Beaudoin (2009) defined a consortium as “a partnership among a number of educational institutions or other similar entities that have joined together to collaboratively provide instruction and other services to students that they might not otherwise be adequately equipped of inclined to do independently” (p. 113). I was excited to see how an Alberta consortia called eCampus Alberta was finding success in a post-secondary setting.
Donovan (2012) shared four strategic directions that eCampus Alberta had taken. First, it provided innovative leadership. Second, it was member focused (serving both learners and post-secondary institutions). Third, it was learner centred. Finally, the consortia could raise awareness for learners to see what the consortia could provide to them.
The question that arose out of what Donovan (2012) had spoke about was whether an e-learning consortia could be effective in a K-12 setting. My district has its own virtual school and is trying to use a variety of e-learning strategies so students can find success. However, many of the courses are basically text that students read online and then answer questions. The learning occurs almost entirely asynchronously. I have heard of other virtual schools in the province that have provided students with a more exciting and engaging way to learn.
The question I have is why are we not seeking out these other schools and tying all virtual schools together in a consortia? Is it because each school district likes being autonomous? I believe that with provincial curriculum providing commonality and e-learning being tied to learning outcomes, the idea of a provincial consortia is possible. I agree that there would be challenges such as mentioned by Donovan (2012) such as not having a culture of collaboration, institutional costs, and choosing which LMS platform to use. I do believe it is time for Alberta Education to step up and take leadership in regards to this possibility, rather than hoping someone else will find success and allow others to tag along with it.
Guiding question: Is a provincial consortia for e-Learning in a K-12 setting possible? What do you believe to be the benefits and challenges of this setting?
Beaudoin, M.F. (2009). Consortia – a viable model and medium for distance education in developing countries. Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 24(2), 113-126.
Donovan, T. (2012). (2012, March 12). eLearning Consortia [Elluminate session]. Retrieved from https://blackboard.ucalgary.ca/webapps/BB-ElluminateLive!-bb_bb60/links/buildRecordingJNLP.jsp?recordingId=1276148834808_1331597228442&course_id=_106438_1&environment=communication&roles=instructor&name=EDER+679.29++eLearning+in+Canada+-+Organization+and+Management&filter=recorded&startDateReq=1330585200000&endDateReq=1333259999999&userName=04226335&user_id=_3698_1