Asking the Leaders – Advice for Online Learning in Ontario from 13 Canadian and International Experts

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Find out from 13 Canadian and International Experts

What is the biggest challenge facing online and distance learning today?

  • What is the biggest opportunity that online and distance learning has today?
  • Keeping in mind the biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity for online and distance learning today, what is the one key step that post-secondary education could take to move online learning to the next level?
  • Conversely, what is the one thing to absolutely avoid?
  • Which current or emerging technology has the potential of radically transforming online and distance learning?

Thirteen experts from around the world were asked to reply to these 5 key questions. Here is what they said.

Among the varied responses, the emphasis on teaching and learning, rather than technology, is striking. Quality, cost, faculty training, organizational and sector-wide change are all addressed.

This initial gathering of input from experts was undertaken in 2011, and it is interesting to track how the points around tablets and other mobile devices have come to fruition. One particular point of interest is how a number of the ideas presented in response to question #2 about the biggest opportunity foreshadow Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which had yet to burst onto the education scene. In 2014, another consultation of experts will take place, again looking at challenges and opportunities in the constantly evolving potential and reality of online and distance learning.

Question 1: What is the biggest challenge facing online and distance learning today?

There was a great deal of alignment around the challenge here being quality (Theme 1 of this summary), but there was also a focus on access (Theme 2).  

Theme 1: The Challenge of Mindful, Quality Online Design, Development, Deployment and Delivery of Courses and Programs

“the biggest challenge is how to deliver education in a meaningful and pedagogically appropriate way...”

“Online technologies should be integrated in a continuum of teaching and learning activities”

Several of the respondents, in different ways, focused on the challenge of creating courses that fully leverage technology and social networks while engaging students in meaningful learning. Some refer to this as “the quality” of online courses and others as “appropriate curriculum and pedagogy” for an online course, but their intent is the same: the mindful design of learning experienced by engaged learners, which fully leverages the available technology.

There are many components to this:

  1. Support for Pedagogy and Improved Instruction

    Several respondents pointed to the need for faculty and instructional staff to be engaged in the work of design and delivery through a deep understanding of learning, learning processes, student engagement and instructional design. The call was for more focused faculty training.

    “Lack of pedagogical training for instructors – they have no alternative model of teaching other than the one they were brought up in – i.e. a teacher controlled didactic model. This lack of theory prevents them from redesigning teaching to take advantage of new technologies and also results in their hostility to and fear of technology.”

    “the question of course / program quality continues to be an issue... measures will need to be in place to satisfy those who continue to believe that “real learning” can only take place in classrooms.”

    [There is a need for] “a comprehensive, tiered faculty development program (especially for adjunct faculty) at various points in their instructional careers (beginning, experienced and senior levels)...”

    Others also noted that the model of the classroom, as a basis for understanding teaching, is not the most appropriate starting point for the design of an online learning experience. While the classroom places the instructor at the centre of the action (in most cases), in the online environment, this need not be the case. Instructors can take a different role – coach, mentor, guide, facilitator, and evaluator – and learning can be more “personalized” than in a classroom cohort model. Yet, many courses are simply trying to capture classroom experiences online.

    “We could do better” was the underlying theme of these respondents.

  2. Focusing Less On Technology and More On Learning and Teaching

    Technology changes all the time and there is a danger of “faddism” – the example used by one is 3D TV and the use of 3D in educational simulation. This requires students and institutions to make technology investments for marginal gains in learning and engagement. What is more important is the design of learning as an experience, irrespective of the technology available.

    Indeed, several commented on the short shelf life of technology and the need for caution in embracing “next generation” technologies as a platform when those seeking to use it for design, development and delivery have yet to master the pedagogy of learning for blended and online learning.

    “The major thing that should be avoided is focusing too much on the technology instead of focusing on the pedagogy and continuum of approaches to teaching and learning in both classroom and distance contexts.”

  3. Support for a Team-based Approach to Course Creation Based on Principles of Instructional Design

    Some respondents pointed to their understanding of the problem, which they saw in terms of trying to take what is done in a classroom and make it available online rather than redesigning the experience from first principles of pedagogy. That is, the task of design isn’t one of “conversion”, but is one of creation, taking full account of the intended outcomes.

    Several suggested that a team approach with a faculty member and other subject matter experts who had received some training in pedagogy, a technology advisor who fully understood the potential of the learning platforms and resources available, and an instructional designer makes the ideal team, although not all institutions have access to the required instructional design capacity.

    [What is needed is] “a course development model that includes a team of subject matter experts and a course maintenance model that not only includes content maintenance, but also integrates experience and data gathered from course offerings over time.”

  4. Formalizing Quality Assurance

    One respondent cautiously noted that Robert Pirsig (author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) made clear that defining quality is a start of the journey to insanity: “that is why quality cannot be defined. If we do define it, we are defining something less than Quality itself”. Nonetheless, seeking to better understand quality in online learning emerges as a theme under this heading.

    This is what the Gates Foundation, which is developing a framework for analyzing the quality of online learning courses, is seeking to do, according to Bill Gates:

    “One step that would help is having course standards that break down all of the various things to be learned into a clear framework and connecting the online material to this framework. Over time I think a large community of contributors and reviewers will develop and allow the online material to be easy to access and a crucial resource for all types of education. There will need to be a number of pilots to see how to take this resource and blend it into the classroom experience. I plan to spend a lot of time on this to see what would help get it to critical mass1.”

    Some of the respondents saw formalizing quality, in terms of peer review and external assessment and validation, as a key step in improving overall quality of online learning and blended learning. They said that rigor was the key: 

    “...there must be attention paid to research based best practices – there are many who are using intuition and personal preferences to make decisions about how to deliver instruction at a distance. This must not happen. Possibly the best way to ensure a rigorous curriculum is to demand visibility. Courses and instruction should be open for review, available for critique, and required to be accountable.” 

    “The challenge is to find the balance between high quality online education and the adoption of new technologies.”

    This suggests the need for a research agenda as it relates to quality around the theme of online learning.

Theme 2: Access to Learning

Whilst this was seen by many as a subset, some saw this as the central challenge. One wrote:

“The biggest challenge for online and distance learning is the challenge the field was developed in the first place to address, which is the provision of access to learning opportunities to those who would not otherwise be able to obtain them. It is a fact that even in a country with as many opportunities as Canada, there are many people who would like to be able to obtain a higher education, but who are unable to because of time, resources or distance. Online and distance learning represents our best, and probably only, solution to this demand.”

There is also a link to the question of costs, quality of design, and access:

“The great expansion of Canada’s educational sector that has enabled a full 69 percent of the population from 25 to 44 years of age to obtain a post-secondary diploma by 20122 is now under increased stress because of the need to reduce federal and provincial budgetary expenditures. This stress extends across the full educational spectrum, from kindergarten to graduate programs, and in all fields. Though some feel distance and online learning will not reduce costs3 , many are looking to new technologies, not only to increase access, but also to reduce the load borne by government. The alternative, as we have already seen, is increased tuition, reduced access and reduced services.

This creates a central issue revolving around the strategic design of distance and online learning. If this is viewed as simply the replication of existing educational design in an online environment, it is unlikely costs will be decreased, which decreases the likelihood that they will support any great degree of increased access at all. It is therefore only through the creation of new delivery models that e-learning will achieve both the primary and secondary goal. The challenge of defining this new delivery model is the central issue of the field, and most discussion and research revolves around it.”

One response was very direct:

“Most analysis of higher education cost projections shows that we are not going to be able to afford to educate our citizens if we do not make significant changes. Distance learning can provide a more cost-effective way of educating students with better outcomes if designed properly. Doing so could have a major impact on education public policy...”

Others put the problem explicitly in terms of enabling those who start their college, university or training at a traditional program, but are unable to complete it and wish to do so – enabling more individuals in the workforce to secure the qualifications they need to sustain employment and move into higher paying jobs.

This social policy dimension is emphasized by one respondent, who also points to the commercial potential of online learning: 

“If we understand the value of online and distance learning in this way – as the creation of the essential service that makes possible a commercial marketplace of enhanced products and services – then it becomes clear that the greatest opportunity for online and distance education today is the possibility of the creation of that marketplace, not only in Canada but globally. There is a clear link between educational attainment and economic activity generally4. Increasing our capacity as an education provider increases markets not only nationally but also globally.

Though the provision of accessible online and distance learning is often depicted as though it were a charity5, it is in fact an efficient and effective economic development strategy. The development of expertise, the growth of target markets, and the preparation of a recipient population all flow from the provision of basic and fundamental learning services and products. The first jurisdiction that successfully leverages its capacity to deliver an effective and low-cost online learning model to its own population will be in a position to offer a wide range of goods and services globally.”

Question 2: What is the biggest opportunity that online and distance learning in general has today?

Respondents saw 3 major opportunities: (a) personalizing learning; (b) bringing high quality learning and academics into the workplaces and homes of individual learners; and (c) the growth of a global market.

Theme 1: Personalizing Learning

This term means different things to different people. Some use the term “personalization”, meaning that each person can find an individual route to achieving desired learning outcomes. Others prefer the term “differentiated instruction”, where learners and instructors agree on a preferred route to learning for each learner, given the objectives of the course. This has implications: 

“...teaching has to be redesigned to achieve these goals...”

and

“there is a wonderful increase in the range of learning activities and pedagogies available to instructors and learners, but learner support will transform the work...”

In other contexts, personalization has been taken to refer to when students take courses – to timetable choice. “Anywhere, anytime” is a mantra of some online learning providers (especially with respect to training and work-based learning). This is not the sense in which any of the respondents referred to this topic: all were focused on what was learned and how rather than when.

Theme 2: Making Quality Learning Widely Available

The idea of bringing learning into the homes of those who want to pursue higher education is extended significantly by respondents in 2 distinct ways: (a) by seeking to leverage worldwide , not only local, expertise and (b) by improving quality for all courses, including essential skills and apprenticeship. They say:

“take advantage of the expertise all over the world through video conferencing or curriculum development... students can take courses not offered by their own host institutions, but seen as amongst the best available in the world.”

and

“Learner choice is key – the ability to take advantage of the learning option that best suits you at the time. We are learning that one-size doesn’t fit all, even down to the day of the week... over time, with the accumulation of various types of content, with technology that enables participation and collaboration, with efforts at the program (not just course) level, greater flexibility and access is possible.”

By being flexible and being able to personalize learning, the suggestion from some is that this would make post-secondary education both attractive and possible to many who currently are not engaged in the system.

Theme 3: Growing a Global Market

Opportunities were seen in developing services for a global marketplace. As one respondent noted:

“It is not difficult to reconcile the rapidly expanding commercial e-learning market with the publicly-mandated (and publicly-funded) K-12 and post-secondary system. The former, simply, requires the latter. The existence of a continually expanding global market in online and distance learning products and services depends crucially on a market well-positioned to consume those products, which presupposes a certain level of education to begin with. In essence, education and educational services represent one of the largest examples of the value-add online services distribution model. Just as Skype offers a free basic service to all customers, education providers in general offer a free basic service to all potential learners6.”

This translates, at the institutional level, to opportunities to:

“ ...expand a geographic footprint by extending a national and global reach. The subsequent increase in revenue from higher number of students comes with the added bonus of not having to build larger campuses, [which in turn] lead to lower carbon emissions...”

While there are cautions – programs need to be designed with international students in mind and the curriculum has to have “routes” through it which can be adapted by those from different nations; there is opportunity here. 

Question 3: Keeping in mind the biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity for online and distance learning today, what is the one key step that post-secondary education ought to take to move online learning to the next level? 

The idea behind this question was to ask respondents to focus their knowledge and understanding on the challenges facing online learning.

A wide range of responses were received – one respondent pointed out that, of the 5 questions, “this is by far the most difficult one to answer”, not only because it requires a knowledge and understanding of the current state of the online learning developments, but also because the respondents were asked to “land” on one suggestion.

The major theme of the suggestions focused on the need to link developments to evidence and data – a call for evidence-based decision making. Here is the range of suggestions made from this evidence standpoint:

“Collecting data on outcomes and costs so that jurisdictions can answer the fundamental question, “how much learning for how much cost?”. ....In order to improve what we are doing, we need data on completion rates and learning outcomes... Are these better, worse or the same as those achieved on a traditional campus? Using data to drive improvements is extremely important.”

“...designing online instruction that is tied to appropriate evaluation that is driven by informed research, and allows for differentiated learning (e.g. multiple pathways for students to progress through a single course) and multiple evaluation possibilities...”

“Various learning analytics systems exist worthy of consideration. Using such a system may support evidence based improvements that can lead to substantial gains in student learning, retention and course progression.”

Others suggested that there should be a strategic vision that is bold, compelling and challenging. For example:

“It should be possible to obtain a university-level education, from kindergarten to graduate degree, and be recognized for that achievement, without once ever having to step into a school or attend an in-person class. That is not to say that every student could, would or should learn in this way. There is no end to the number of studies asserting that students are unable to manage their own learning by themselves7 . But such a change in the depiction of the default model of learning support constitutes an essential first step.”

Such a change represents a transition in outlook from that of scarcity of educational services and resources to that of abundance. It represents a change of outlook from one where education is an essential service that much be provided to all persons, to one where the role of the public provider is overwhelmingly one of support and recognition for an individual’s own educational attainment. It represents an end to a centrally-defined determination of how an education can be obtained, to one that offers choices, resources and assessment. The Canadian educational system is already moving in this direction8. The current proposal represents an alignment of resources around the terminus.”

Outlining a successful change process, one respondent suggested:

“Radical change is needed in all post-secondary education systems, and this change is unlikely to come from the institutions themselves. On the other hand, change has to come from within, rather than be imposed from outside. So whatever the government does, it needs to be both bold yet at least not be so off-putting that it provokes strong institutional resistance. What I think it needs to do is provide inspiration, a concrete vision for learning in the 21st century built around the intelligent use of technology for teaching and learning, but present this vision as a topic for discussion and development through the key stakeholders. We are talking about a 10-year process here, but real change in higher education will not come quickly without it being disastrous.”

Finally, another looked at possibilities, gaps and the need for leadership:

“As we open up learning, and allow people to grab or view learning objects from Berkeley, UBC, York, the U of T, or MIT, we need to create mechanisms to assess and endorse what they are doing. We need credentialing systems for independent lifelong learners. Increasingly, learning will be self-paced or guided. What Western Governors University (WGU) is doing with competency assessments and mentoring through online contents is one way for this to happen. But we do need more such models as well as more leadership in this space. I think that informal learning is increasingly becoming the norm. Nontraditional is, in a way, becoming traditional.”

Others were less bold, focusing more on the need for decision making to be collaborative:

“All stakeholders in the educational community should be involved in the planning and managing [of] the growth of online learning. Certainly, teachers must be involved, as must administrators, politicians and tax payers. Even vendors should play a minor role.”

And there were several comments about the need for adequate resourcing:

“ensure adequate financial and educational support for design of online courses and the professional development of facilitators.“

Seeing common themes here is difficult, but a key insight comes from one respondent who thinks that jurisdictions needs to re-think learning in a radical, collaborative way that changes the nature of teaching and learning along the lines outlined above. The implication is that distance education and online learning should be integrated into teaching and learning, not treated separately.

Question 4: Conversely, what is the one thing to absolutely avoid?

In keeping with the comments reviewed to date, the key message here is very direct: “avoid focusing too much on the technology instead of focusing on the pedagogy and continuum of approaches to teaching and learning”. While others expressed this sentiment in different ways, it is the dominant response.

Perhaps one respondent in particular highlights a key message which cuts across all of the responses to the questions in saying:

“One of the great strengths, not only of the Canadian educational system, but also systems that fare equally well in international testing, is the generally decentralized nature of the system. Educators and school boards in places like Canada and Finland have a high degree of latitude in how they manage learning and support9. Respect for excellence and equity are key to their success10.”

Question 5: What current or emerging technology has the potential of radically transforming online and distance learning?

Two themes emerged here.

Theme 1: Don’t be preoccupied with the technology

There were some cautions associated with the response to this question, with several respondents repeating the suggestion that jurisdictions should “avoid focusing too much on the technology instead of focusing on the pedagogy and continuum of approaches to teaching and learning.”

Nonetheless, some observations were made: 

  • Make use of technologies that reduce the role of the professor and give more emphasis to the learner. “Far too few distance programs really take advantage of instructional software by integrating it into the design of courses. Social media sites are almost irrelevant... Modern day instructional software allows students to get individualized feedback, for example, on homework problems and quizzes – this is where we need more emphasis.”
  • “The answer is not a single technology, but rather a set of technologies that (ironically) help us bring back some of the higher quality engagement possibilities than can exist in face to face environments. For instance, some of the low cost, high-quality web conferencing options that exist today hold tremendous promise.”

Theme 2: If you want to lead, focus on mobile learning

One dominant response was to focus on mobile learning. One respondent provided an overview of the changing technological offerings and suggests their potential:

“As predicted in the early days of online learning11, the personal access device, or ‘pad’, is proving to be transformative. Apple’s release of the iPad in 2010, combined with this year’s release of the iPad 2, has resulted in what might be called a tablet boom. In addition to the iPad, Motorola is shipping Xoom and Samsung is producing the GalaxyTab, both run on Google’s Android operating system. Amazon continues to produce the Kindle, while Barnes and Noble distributes the Nook. The leading Canadian tablet is RIM’s Playbook.

“The impact has been immediate, widespread and game-changing. As one small example, the e-textbook market, which was 1.5 percent of the overall market a year ago, has doubled this year and will reach 25 percent of the market within 5 years12. Far more than simply an e-book reader, the iPad already supports hundreds of educational applications, ranging from games to communication apps to organizers to math and music. It is not possible to measure how much learning is taking place using these new platforms, as the bulk of it is informal. It is, however, hard to believe it is anything but substantial.

“The arrival of pad computing is also significant in that it represents the first significant realignment of the technology infrastructure in 10 years. Through 1995 to 2010, most computer users lived and worked in an environment dominated by the Mac and the PC, the desktop and the laptop. In this environment, operating systems manage system communication and storage, and applications are loaded and installed locally, using (and dependent on) the operating system for most user interface and functionality.”

Learner control was emphasized in 2 comments:

“It is not only the technology, but also the devices that have given new meaning to mobile learning – it is the learner on the move accessing learning wherever they are that has the potential of changing the future of online education. How we incorporate and engage with these new technologies in an educational manner has the potential of changing the future of online education.”

“My vote goes to mobile technologies, because they replicate the technologies that people will be using outside education.”

However, there is always a note of caution:

“Emerging technologies should not be expected to radically transform education and training. New tools must be incorporated into a plan that is based on the principles of effective teaching and learning. To assume an emerging technology or an existing technology will transform education is to assume that distance education will somehow be better, or more effective, or a replacement – distance education should not be labeled as the force that radically transforms education – to assume this will doom distance education to failure. Certainly, distance education will be a disruptive technology, but as we know, this is not bad. Rather, Christensen’s theory of disruptive technologies provides an explanation of the role distance education is playing in the evolution of teaching and learning.”

It may be well to consider the famous comment by Nils Bohr, physicist, who said “prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.”

Listening to the Experts

This group of experts did not focus on technology in a way that many writers and authorities do. While some saw a need to make smarter use of technology, the thrust here is to focus on quality improvements in pedagogy.

Overall, these Canadian and international experts saw the need to leverage existing assets, improve all forms of instruction and use technology wherever it was an appropriate means to enable learning, encourage engagement and achieve learning outcomes required for a course or program.

Appendix One: List of Respondents (in alphabetical order)

Dr. Tony Bates is the author of 11 books, including Technology, e-Learning and Distance Education, Managing Technological Change: Strategies for College and Universities Leaders, Effective Teaching with Technology in Higher Education and National Strategies for e-Learning, published by UNESCO. His latest book, Managing Technology in Higher Education: Strategies for Transforming Teaching and Learning is due to be published in May 2011. He is on the editorial board of 6 journals specializing in distance education and educational technology. He has worked as a consultant in over 40 countries. Clients include the World Bank, OECD, UNESCO, national ministries of education, and several U.S. state higher education commissions.

Dr. Curtis Bonk, the author of the Handbook of Blended Learning: Global Perspectives, Local Designs (2006), Empowering Online Learning: 100+ Activities for Reading, Reflecting, Displaying, and Doing (2008), and The World is Open: How Web Technology is Revolutionizing Education (2009). He is now Professor of Instructional Systems Technology at Indiana University and adjunct in the School of Informatics. Professor Bonk was a Senior Research Fellow with the Advanced Distributed Learning Lab within the Department of Defense.

Dr. Tom Carey is a Professor of Management Sciences in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Waterloo, currently on leave to lead collaborative projects to enhance teaching and learning across higher education institutions and systems in Canada and the U.S. as a Visiting Professor at San Diego State University and Visiting Senior Scholar in the Chancellor’s Office of the California State University. He is also Principal Investigator for the FACCTS program for collaborative course transformation teams in the California community colleges, based at San Diego State and funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Dr. Diana Oblinger is co-author of What Business Wants from Higher Education. She is co-editor of 7 books: The Learning Revolution, The Future Compatible Campus, Renewing Administration, E is for Everything, Best Practices in Student Services, Educating the Net Generation, and Learning Spaces. She is president and CEO of EDUCAUSE, formerly served as EDUCAUSE vice president responsible for the association’s teaching and learning activities and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. Dr. Oblinger is a former Executive Director of Higher Education for Microsoft and IBM Director of the Institute for Academic Technology.

Stephen Downes works for the National Research Council of Canada, where he has served as a Senior Researcher affiliated with the Learning and Collaborative Technologies Group, Institute for Information Technology. Downes specializes in the fields of online learning, new media, pedagogy and philosophy. Downes is the publisher of the daily newsletter, OLDaily, which is distributed by web, e-mail and RSS to thousands of subscribers around the world. He has published numerous articles both online and in print, including The Future of Online Learning (1998), Learning Objects (2000), Resource Profiles (2003), and E-Learning 2.0 (2005).

Lars Kullerud is the President of the University of the Arctic (UArctic). His academic background is in Precambrian Geology and Isotope Geochemistry, development of geostatistical methods for petroleum resource assessments, as well as assessments of the Arctic environment. Lars has authored or co-authored several publications in environmental sciences and geosciences, on both a regional and international level.

Dan Holland pioneered and is a former Chair of OntarioLearn. He is currently the Dean of the Schools of Business and Management Studies, Biosciences and the Centre for Justice Studies at Loyalist College.

Dr. Jennifer Jenson is Associate Professor of Pedagogy and Technology in the Faculty of Education at York University. She is currently co-editor of Loading: The Journal of the Canadian Game Studies Association and president of the Canadian Game Studies Association. She has published widely on education, technology, gender, design and development of digital games, and technology policy. She is co-editor of Worlds in Play: International Perspectives on Digital Game Research with Suzanne de Castell and lead author of Policy Unplugged with Chloe Brushwood Rose and Brian Lewis.

Dr. Grace Lynch is an international scholar and expert on the application of emerging technologies and applications in education.

Dr. Stephen Murgatroyd is Chief Innovation Officer at Contact North | Contact Nord. He was the team leader of the world’s first online executive MBA in 1993 as the first Executive Director of the Centre for Innovative Management of Athabasca University. He has undertaken evaluations of programs and in 2000, Dr. Murgatroyd was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in e-learning from Athabasca University in recognition of work in this field.

Judy Roberts is an experienced consultant in the field of online learning. She developed the series Lifelong Learning on the Information Highway/L’apprentissage à vie sur l’inforoute and co-edited Why the Information Highway? Lessons from Open and Distance Education. Her work has taken her to countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Guyana, Bermuda, the West Indies, Venezuela, Brunei, India, Singapore, Norway, Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom and France. She has acted as the senior staff member of projects such as telemedicine in Newfoundland and Labrador, Telemedicine for Ontario in Toronto, and many other leading edge and innovative projects.

Dr. Michael Simonson is a professor of Instructional Technology & Distance Education at Nova Southeastern University, editor of the Quarterly Review of Distance Education and Distance Learning Journal. Dr. Simonson has written/co-written 4 books in the areas of instructional technology and distance education. He currently also holds the position as the CEO of Technology Research and Evaluation.

Dr. Carol A. Twigg is President and CEO of the National Center for Academic Transformation and an international expert in using information technology to transform teaching and learning in higher education. She initiated the IMS Global Learning Consortium, which is establishing interoperable technical standards for online education and training.

Footnotes

[2] HRSDC. 2012. Educational Attainment.   http://www4.hrsdc.gc.ca/.3ndic.1t.4r@-eng.jsp?iid=29

[3] Tony Bates. 2011. Strategic Thinking about E-Learning. http://www.tonybates.ca/2010/06/11/strategic-thinking-about-e-learning /

[5] OECD. 2007. Giving Knowledge For Free. http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/35/7/38654317.pdf

[6] Osterwalder and Pigneur. 2007. Business Model Ontology. http://www.slideshare.net/stevendiebold/business-model-ontology.

[7] Guri-Rosenblit, and Gros. 2011. E-Learning: Confusing Terminology, Research Gaps and Inherent Challenges http://www.jofde.ca/index.php/jde/article/view/729/1206

[8] Downes. 2008. Options and Opportunities. http://www.downes.ca/post/44259

[9] OECD. 2004. Raising the quality of educational performance at school. http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/17/8/29472036.pdf

[10] Pasi Sahlberg. 2009. The Finnish Model: Excellence Through Equity and Autonomy http://www.strategie.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/Paris_Presentation_14_Dec_09.pdf   

[11] Downes. 1998. The Future of Online Learning. http://www.downes.ca/future/

[12] IDC. 2011. Nearly 18 Million Media Tablets Shipped in 2010 with Apple Capturing 83% Share; eReader Shipments Quadrupled to More Than 12 Million, http://www.idc.com/about/viewpressrelease.jsp?containerId=prUS22737611