NT educators draw on Canadian e-learning success 

Laptop streaming 

She may have spent just one hour by conference call to the E-nablingNT 2008 Road Show, but already Canadian academic Michelle Eady is a role model for the success of e-learning.

Ms Eady currently is studying at the University of Wollongong, but in Canada she is the Distance Program Coordinator of a distance-learning project which has been running for the past five and a half years. The project involves a literacy and numeracy distance learning trial that delivers education to remote Indigenous locations in Ontario Canada through cyber-based learning tools, or e-learning.

The program, entitled “Good Learning Anywhere”, has been a resounding success in Ontario and student numbers have grown from 38 in the first year to the current total of more than 600. A further two vocational training programs using e-learning are about to be rolled out.

Ms Eady recently caught up via video conference with the EnablingNT 2008 Road Show, an annual DET-led initiative showcasing information technology solutions to learning and business.

The Studio Manager of the Interactive Distance Learning (IDL) Studio at Charles Darwin University’s Alice Springs campus, Richard Waring, said Ontario has succeeded in the task that CDU has set itself.

“It’s a good working model for us to aspire to and it demonstrates that what we are trying to do is possible,” he said.

CDU currently has 16 Interactive Distance Learning sites targeting larger population areas within remote locations.

The CDU component is part of a wider system that provides education to 232 mainly Indigenous learning sites throughout Northern Territory schools via the School of the Air Studios, and the Northern Territory Open Education Centre.

“There are more parallels than differences between our system using the REACT platform and the video conferencing system being used in Canada,” Mr Waring said.

Both programs are endeavouring to find solutions in delivering education in English to students whose first language is not English.

“The Canadian model began at a similar starting point to us, having to find solutions to questions such as how to deliver six different courses to 200 people spread throughout often very remote communities,” he said.

But the good news is that because the Canadian e-learning model is three years ahead, the path is mapped out already for the Territory’s e-learning program.