Volume 95, Issue 19

Wednesday, October 3, 2001
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Code worries campus groups

Like porn, university now online

UCC forum sheds light on Islam

A beginners guide to university bigwigs

UWO meds get Tory bucks

United Way starts strong

Like porn, university now online

By Joel Brown
Gazette Staff

Thirteen universities from across Canada are trying to prove to students there is more to the Internet than porn, Star Trek and urban myths.

Canadian Virtual University is an online "shopping mall" where students can pick online and distance studies courses from a pool of schools across Canada.

The school, founded in Feb. 2000 with only six participating schools, was born out of a need for more flexibility for students, said the university's executive director Vicky Busch.

She said adult learners expressed the most interest in the school's ability to offer an education that can fit busy schedules. "It's really appreciated by working adults who want to do a course while the kids have gone to bed or when they are on their summer vacations."

Participating universities include Cape Breton, Brandon, Manitoba, and Victoria, and the only Ontario school, Laurentian. Western was given the chance to join CVU, but chose not to.

Interest has been expressed by a great number of undergraduate students looking to avoid the hassles of schedule conflicts and administrative paperwork run-arounds, Busch said.

"Because partner universities accept each other's courses for transfer credit, students have much more flexibility when it comes to selecting what, where and when they want to learn," Busch said.

CVU and the 13 partner universities contend schools need to be cut-throat to attract students, she added.

"Because of the nature of distance and online learning, the nature of competition has changed," she said. "Having five different versions of the same course for online delivery really doesn't make sense."

Busch cautioned that CVU itself does not yet offer degree programs, only a selection of courses.

Kris MacLeod, Western's co-ordinator of distance studies, said Western did investigate the possibility of joining CVU but felt it was too early to commit its resources to such a venture.

"The idea of being part of a consortium does interest us, but with the number of formal and informal projects out there, we didn't want to throw our future into anything just yet," he said.

Carole Farber, a media, information and technoculture professor and former director of Western's distance studies program, investigates online learning in her classes and began teaching Internet-focused courses in 1989.

"An aspect of CVU that I'm particularly pleased with is its mandate to collaborate research – that's something that would benefit us all," she said.

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