Eight new online skills training programs launch

TVOntario announced the eight successful applicants for its Lifelong Learning Challenge Fund. The fund, financially supported by the Government of Ontario, is investing $5 million to develop online skills training programs, matched by project contributions of $4.9 million. The fund was set up as an incentive for both employees and employers to increase the level of skills training in Ontario and fill critical gaps in the job market.

An independent panel of experts chaired by former University of Toronto president Robert Prichard selected the eight successful projects from 34 applications.

In designing the fund, TVOntario has done a commendable job of applying what has been learned about the critical success factors for the use of learning technologies by small-and medium-sized companies:
•The partners know their markets well, and their projects address well-defined learner needs.
•The projects address issues of learner access and provide for learner support.
•The learning links to a certification or accreditation process.
•Each project has plans for sustaining activities after the fund ends in March 2003.
•Emphasis was given to projects that push the envelope through innovation in pedagogy or technology.
•Consideration has been given to the transferability of knowledge gained from the projects.
•What is most encouraging for knowledge building is the emphasis on evaluation. All projects incorporate their own evaluation plans. In addition, TVOntario has committed another $500,000 to evaluate the effectiveness of the projects, and promote and market them across the province.

Here are the eight projects, all to be delivered online:

Degree Completion Program for Registered Nurses: A 12-course nursing program offered through the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences at Brock University in St. Catharines. The courses will be Web-CT based, using both synchronous and asynchronous formats. Each course will conduct virtual seminars and provide features such as chat rooms. Online tutorials for anatomy and physiology will be developed with Lewiston, N.Y.-based educational software supplier Tangent Scientific using products such as A.D.A.M. A key innovation will be imbedded self-evaluations, which will generate student specific feedback and suggested remedial strategies. Clinical placements will be conducted at a distance through the use of digital video mini-cams.

E-commerce for Small Business: This 12-module course on will be offered through the Michael G. DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University in Hamilton in partnership with Bell Canada and IBM Canada. The course will provide small-business owners and senior managers with the tools and skills to transact business over the Internet. Students will prepare e-commerce plans for their firms. Additional reference materials will be made available in booklet or “courseware” form and on CD-ROM. The goal is to develop a distinguished speaker series with TVO on electronic commerce, linked to course delivery.

Electronic Engine Control Skills Training: Designed for professional automotive technicians and apprentices, this course will be offered through the School of Transportation at Centennial College. The course will use an Internet-based computer simulation that can be stand-alone, or used in a facilitated collaborative online learning environment (Learning Portal). Instructors will interact with students through the Learning Portal. The goal of the project is to support a variety of learning styles: learn by doing, tutorial, guidance, freeplay and collaborative learning.

In Good Hands: A 12-hour online training course in safe food handling offered in English and French through the Thunder Bay District Health Unit. Training that is currently being delivered face-to-face will be converted into Internet-based modules. The course will be piloted with about 100 Mr. Sub employees in 10 locations across Northern Ontario. The courses will be Web-based with online chat rooms and tutorial support via e-mail and phone. Contact North’s network of local learning centres will deliver tutorials via videoconference, and deploy laptops for local support. Learners may also access Community Access Points (CAPs).

Online Electronics Training: This program designed for part-time students, offers training for service technicians in the fields of consumer, commercial and industrial electronics. George Brown College will be enhancing online components of the 23-module electronics course currently delivered by CD-ROM. This project (Phase II) will develop Internet-based learner support in the form of an enhanced Web site with chat-rooms, tutorials and real-time support. Additional new curriculum will be developed in industrial automation.

Online Welding Training: Collège Boréal in Sudbury will be offering 32 learning units on welding in both French and English. The training is intended for small business customer service and sales representatives, as well as welding instructors seeking additional training. The project will be adapting and expanding upon Air Liquide Canada employee training currently available on the company intranet. The project will be structured around individual learning plans linked to personalized learning components and activities.

Blueprint Reading for Construction Tradespersons: This program in blueprint reading will consist of 200 hours of Internet courseware offered by the Civil/Architectural Technology Division of Fanshawe College in London. Online courses will be developed for specific types of construction, with employer partners assisting in the design of the course units related to their type of construction. Training centres run by the Labourers International Union of North America will provide learners with instructor support, Internet access and discussion groups. Fanshawe College will support independent self-study with e-mail support from instructors, weekly instructor phone discussions and a telephone help desk.

Workplace Skills in the Automotive Parts Manufacturing Industry: Four online courses will be offered through Georgian College in Barrie to develop skills in the automotive parts manufacturing industry. Content will cover skills in project management, quality management, machine operation and leadership. Subject matter experts from Ontario automotive parts associations and companies will guide the design. The format will be asynchronous interaction with subject matter experts, and small group peer interactions. The project intends to devise a system that will help learners become aware of their preferred learning style and focus on learning material that supports that style.

For more information on TVO’s Lifelong Learning Challenge Fund contact Sarah Irwin, Business Development, TVO, (416) 484-2882 or [email protected].

Lyndsay Green is an expert in technology-based learning and the principal with Lyndsay Green & Associates, consultants in applications of learning technologies. She can be reached at 416-966-0794 or [email protected].

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