by Paul Bacsich, 13 May 2006
The small but (we feel) select community of e-university analysts round the world were pleased to see recently that the long-expected study of Canadian e-university "changes" has appeared. This is a twin study of two interesting situations: the absorption of the British Columbia Open University (BCOU) component of the former Open Learning Agency by the new Thompson Rivers University (TRU) and the merger of tbe Tele-Universite de Quebec into the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). The study was commissioned by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) from Dominique Abrioux, who is President Emeritus of Athabasca University and and Professor at their Centre for Distance Education.
It is believed that COL is interested in supporting such case studies since many of the smaller countries of the Commonwealth cannot afford to make mistakes in their development of e-learning, and may be able to learn some lessons from the difficulties that several larger countries have had with their e-universities (Canada and the UK in particular).
The report is well summarised, so I will leave readers to read the summary and then form their own conclusions on the main report [PDF, 0.4 MB]. While there have been a number of postings and lots of gossip about the BCOU situation, that surrounding the Tele-Universite de Quebec is much less known, to the English-speaking community at least.
Readers should not go away with the conclusion that this paper gives the last word on Canadian e-university "situations". There are still many aspects of the closure of TechBC and its absorption into the Surrey Campus of Simon Fraser University that could merit study - little material has appeared in public except an impassioned analysis from a former student.