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Queen’s receives $1.5 million funding for 28 online courses 

 Queen's submitted 56 proposals for funding, and were successful for 28 of them.
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Queen’s has received $1.5 million from the Government of Ontario’s online course funding program to develop and redesign online courses.

The money will fund the creation and improvement of 28 online courses offered to Queen’s students across several faculties.

Over the last three years, Queen’s has received a total of $3.1 million from the Ontario Online Learning Consortium (OOLC), formerly known as Ontario Online Initiative. Queen’s leads the province’s universities in funding with 21 per cent of total provincial funding across three years.

Twenty-two universities in the province were invited to submit course proposals for the 2016 competition, including Queen’s.

“Queen’s proposed courses like everybody else, and ours were just more successful than other people’s,” Vice Provost (Teaching and Learning) Jill Scott said.

This year, Queen’s submitted 56 proposals, 14 of which were for Arts and Science. Queen’s received funding for 28 of the proposed course developments, totaling 32 per cent of the provincial funding available.

Graphics by Ashley Quan

“The whole idea from the government’s perspective was to really kickstart online learning for the province,” Scott said.

The Ontario Online Learning Consortium, a database designed to make online courses and programs easily accessible to students, was formed in 2015 by Ontario universities and colleges.

The organization launched the eCampusOntario portal in September 2015. The portal is a database for thousands of Ontario colleges and universities to access online courses, learning support modules and information on credit transfers, according to the Council of Ontario Universities website.

Scott said 13,000 courses are currently available through the database, with 271 receiving funding through this online initiative.

“I think [what] the government really wanted to do was put a spotlight on quality, because online learning is going to be a key part of how people learn. We need to ensure that there is evidence-based instructional design,” she said.

The proposed courses at Queen’s include entirely new courses, courses transitioning to an online format and existing online courses undergoing substantial redesigns.

The courses that received funding include “Sustainability and the Environment”  “Cognitive Psychology” and “First Nations Playwrights”, according to the Queen’s Gazette.

The remaining proposed courses that didn’t receive funding will be left to the faculties, who will determine whether they’ll develop the courses independently or not.

“Our faculties are moving very quickly to build new online learning opportunities for students, but you know each one of those courses to develop is really expensive,” Scott said.

Each course chosen for funding from the Ontario government will receive $56,000 to be used toward instructional design, web development and videography.

Scott said students continue to ask for flexibility in their courses, whether on campus or at a distance.

“A Queen’s degree is so great that you should be able to get a Queen’s degree, even if you can’t come to Queen’s,” Scott said.

The newly-funded courses will be available for students for the upcoming 2016-2017 academic year.

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