Thanks to a tip from OLDaily, I note that Australia’s Flexible Learning Framework just announced funding for 147 projects values at a total of $5.3 million. This averages $36,000 per project. This is exactly the type of grassroots, action research type projects that we need in Canada. The money per project or overall, given the strategic importance of the initiative is not large. But $36,000 provides an incentive such that innovation doesn’t have to come out the time and quality of life of the few overworked innovators and early adopters. Further the money can be used to hire and train hundreds of research assistants to help them become effective produsers of e-learning practice and research processes. I hope the Australians have funded a small amount to pull together the results (both good and bad) from all the projects.
The Framework also was not driven solely by the interests of early adopters and researchers, but rather reflected 6 strategic themes –
1. Rural and remote 2. Primary industries 3. Indigenous 4. Health and community services 5. Trainees and apprentices 6. Upskilling of existing workers and RPL (recognition of prior learning).
My Alberta provincial Department of Education has funded a similar program(24 high schools) with a mandate to use technology to enhance students engagement, especially amongst high risk students. I am working on RFP to do an overall evaluation of this program.
This one province project is great for K12 education, but what is saddest in Canada, is that their is no strategy to meet the critical skills shortages developing in the country, with effective e-learning strategies or pilots to meet any of the 6 issues addressed by the Australians. I believe that e-learning’s most powerful affordance is the capacity to meet both formal and informal learning needs of lifelong learners. Hopefully, the Australians will educate enough lifelong learners and as a constant net importer of global skills, many of them will end up living in Canada! sigh………