Brock University recently received a $75,000 provincial grant to expand its online course offerings.
The money – part of an Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities initiative (MTCU) – will fund the development of Introduction to Human Geography (GEOG 1F90) as a fully online course. As part of a large bank of provincially-funded courses, GEOG 1F90 will be completed and available for students across the province by Sept. 1, 2014.
“This is wonderful news for our students, because they want flexibility in course offerings and this is yet another exciting opportunity,” said Anna Lathrop, Brock’s vice-provost, teaching and learning. “This also extremely helpful for the University because it adds capacity to our growing list of online and blended (hybrid) course offerings. We now have additional funding that will support the infrastructure and human resources required to support this expansion.”
In December, MTCU announced its $4.25-million ‘Ontario Online Initiative’ designed to encourage universities and colleges across the province to offer more online courses and to develop a new Centre of Excellence for online learning.
In this call, MTCU funded 68 of 165 online course proposals from 19 universities across the province. Funding was targeted to support introductory and foundational courses that would be eligible for transfer credit across a number of institutions.
The ministry wants to encourage student mobility, facilitating options for students who may attend one university and wish to take an online course from Brock University on a Letter of Permission (LOP), thereby receiving transfer credit recognition. The ministry has also recently launched a new website designed to connect students with transfer opportunities through the Ontario Council on Articulation and Transfer (ONCAT).
In this round of funding, Brock submitted three course proposals from across three Faculties: Applied Health Science, Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Social Sciences. Given the depth of the application pool and the fact some universities received no funding, Lathrop commented, “I believe Brock University’s research funding proposal (RFP) for three online courses was exceptionally strong. We were most pleased to have one course funded, and anticipate a reapplication for additional course development next year. Our Centre for Pedagogical Innovation team continues to work very closely with those Faculties, Departments and professors who are interested to investigate various forms of course delivery, from face to face, to blended, to online.”
Michael Ripmeester, Chris Fullerton and Catherine Jean Nash in the Department of Geography will teach the new online version of Introduction to Human Geography, which had to be both “scalable” and of interest to students across the province – not just those at Brock.
“This MTCU online course development initiative fits perfectly within Brock’s institutional commitment to pedagogical innovation and experiential learning.,” Lathrop said. “Online and eLearning course development is simply one part of a broad spectrum of teaching and learning possibilities that we continue to prioritize at Brock.”