by Barbara Black
who holds the Daniel Langlois Chair in Digital Image and Sound at Concordia,
has written an essay and sent it to La Presse and Le Soleil proposing
a virtual university for Quebec.
The computer-based institution would not grant degrees or diplomas, but
would be a means of sharing and generating ideas on the Internet, through
training tools, the exchange of research, and a digital library. CREPUQ,
the organization of Quebec universities, has been working on a related
project since 1996.
The development of the UVQ (Université virtuel du Québec)
would help Quebecs universities achieve more coherence and substantially
reinforce the services it provides to students, teachers, researchers
and society at large, he writes.
Quebec should not be left behind in this rapidly growing field, he continues.
While the United States is the undisputed leader, seven Canadian universities
created a virtual university last fall, and European and Japanese universities
are working on similar projects.
Fischer says there would be many benefits to such an initiative: stronger
links among researchers, teachers and students; opening Quebec universities
to the worlds diversity and promoting Quebecs universities
abroad; access to information and new technology; addressing Quebecs
growing educational needs; and increasing co-operation among the universities,
particularly those outside city centres. Its also in line with the
governments current emphasis on information technology.
The new pan-Canadian project Fischer refers to is CVU/UVC, a partnership
involving Athabasca, Brandon, Royal Roads and Laurentian Universities,
University College of Cape Breton, the University of Victoria, British
Columbia Open University, the University of Manitoba, and Télé-université
du Québec. For more information, please consult their Web site,
Fischer gave three guiding principles for those planning such network.
First, computerized learning shouldnt be expected to replace professors,
but should support learning and reinforce students motivation. Second,
we should be open to the constant refinement and development of cyberpedagogy.
Finally, we should keep in mind the true values of education, and not
focus exclusively on the short-term needs of business and industry.
Fischer recommends a site developed in London by Martin Freeth called
the NESTA Future Learning Lab as a particularly good source of inspiration.
NESTA is the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts.
The Web site is http://www.nesta.org.uk/flash.html.