From virtual worlds to computer-assisted teaching, Memorial University is a pioneer in using internet technology to help deliver high-quality educational programs from afar. Could those same technologies be used to help solve some of the other problems inherent with a geographically spread-out population like Newfoundland and Labradors?
An upcoming Harris Centre Memorial Presents public forum will explore the potential for distance education tools to support community and regional development across the province. The event, called Harnessing the Internet for Regional Development: Creating a Stronger Economy and Society Through E-Learning Technology, will take place from 7:30-9:30 pm, October 13th, at the Delta Hotel and Convention Centre in St. John's.
Part of the faculty of educations 2010 Edge Conference, the event will feature a presentation by Dr. Ann Marie Vaughan, director of Memorials department of distance education and learning technologies. Shell then be joined by Craig Pollett, executive director, Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador, and Kerry Murray, director of economic & social policy, Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, for a panel discussion and an audience question and answer session.
Thanks to a major push by the provincial government, the internet is now available in schools all across Newfoundland and Labrador. Using the existing infrastructure as a base, many of the programs Memorial uses to deliver distance courses could be tailored to support regional development and public policy needs across the province.
Any tool used in the current distance learning environment could be leveraged for wide community use. The learning management system could foster group and team work by connecting municipal councilors from different communities to discuss such issues as regional waste management, by providing information on wind energy to economic development officers, or by allowing discussion on any number of issues. Real-time tools like Elluminate Live! could be used to facilitate interaction between people, says Dr. Vaughan.
One of the major benefits of the technology is its ability to bridge distances, a point that Vaughan emphasizes. Just think about the recent hurricane and the physical disconnection of communities, she says. These systems can foster community connection in times of real need, or as a daily tool.
Using e-learning technologies to support regional development is a cutting-edge concept. At this point, Ms. Vaughan is unaware of any other jurisdiction where it is happening. This is something thats widely discussed in e-learning, but, because of the collaborations we have already developed, in this province, weve got the ability to be truly transformational in extending the concept to daily life, engagement and learning, she says. In other words, Newfoundland and Labrador can be a pioneer in regional development, using the Internet as a tool.
All are invited to attend the event and the reception that will follow. The session will be webcast live. For more information, please visit www.mun.ca/harriscentre