Sunday, April 5, 2009

Tuition commission report

Just read this report

Levin, B. (2009). Commission on tuition fees and accessibility to post-secondary education in Manitoba. Government, Manitoba: Manitoba Advanced Education and Literacy. Retrieved April 5, 2009, from

Looking for any mentions of online learning or distributed education policy. Conspicuously absent!

The entire report seems to be predicated on the unchallenged assumption that higher education can only be accomplished face to face in a major urban center. This assumption is being very successfully challenged in many jurisdictions world-wide and online learning is steadily improving to the point where it may be superior to bricks and mortar education for many purposes.

There is talk of increasing access by providing better, housing, daycare, better access to student loans, minimum wage increases etc but nothing about online eduction.

The forced relocation of Manitoba people to major urban centers for higher education has disproportionate costs for those in rural communities that aren't factored into this report. Rural communities are deprived of social and economic contributors. Hard to coach a the local hockey team or serve on the local board if you no longer live in the community. Similarly, people who move to a major urban center are deprived of their family and community social supports.

Increasing access to online higher education will take some improvement to the online education infrastructure including improvements to rural broad band access. But this is being done for other public initiatives such as Telehealth where an increasing number of medical support services are being delivered by various online mechanisms.

Increased rural broadband would improve not only access to higher education but would also support rural economic activity generally. As the world moves into the much touted information economy age more people are earning their living online. Potentially, this is just as possible from your desk in rural Manitoba as it is from anywhere.

Not even mentioning online learning in this report indicates a very specific agenda has been chosen, one that supports the status quo industrial education system that exists in Manitoba.

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