Queen’s receives funding to redevelop online courses

Ontario students will now have access to University-level courses through Ontario Online, a new publicly-funded government program.

The program is set to open in 2015 with 60 flagship courses. Queen’s received part of $8.5 million to develop 13 of the 60 courses, available exclusively online.

Approximately 19 Ontario universities applied to offer courses through the program. Online learning specialists from across Canada then evaluated the applications before recipients were chosen.

Courses taken through the program will be transferrable to all participating universities.

“There was a very clear rubric on how the applications would be evaluated, which included examining quality issues that we care deeply about,” said Brenda Ravenscroft, associate dean of teaching and learning for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Applicants answered questions regarding what kind of interactions students would have with their professors and TAs, how administrators would ensure that students were engaged with the material and how students would be supported.

“That prompted us to do a good review of how we already support our students, and we’ve enhanced some of that,” Ravenscroft said.

She said a lot of student support comes out of the faculty office, where there are student advisors available to offer assistance to students.

“We have also enhanced the technology support that students need in online courses, and we’re working very closely with the library and the Learning Commons to make sure that the kind of services they offer … are available to students who are fully online.”

Ravenscroft said that the money received from Ontario Online would be spent on developing new online courses and enhancing existing courses offered through Queen’s, as part of correspondence and blended learning programs.

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