The most terrible words in the English language are, “I am from the government and here to help.”
The Feds and Post-Secondary Education in Canada
My question in the title is answered by many as follows: “Do nothing,” not only because, as Ronald Reagan has suggested, governments can lay the kiss of death on anything they touch, but also because in Canada higher education is in the Responsibility rests with the provinces, which jealously protect their forces in this area.
However, you may have noticed that now is not a normal time (whenever it has been). While at least the Canadian federal government is more or less able to print money (and has done so quite generously, if you forgive the pun), many of our provinces are in poor financial shape and will be in even worse shape after Covid -19. This inevitably means that some provinces will start cutting public spending, including their budgets for post-secondary education.
In addition, universities and colleges have lost large revenues to the loss of international tuition fees, and it may take at least another year for those revenues to return to their previous levels.
So we have at least three federal government ministries interested in what happens in post-secondary education:
So can we see how the federal government can really help the post-secondary sector without angering the provinces? Here are my thoughts.
Facilitating economic development by developing the knowledge and skills needed in the digital age
- The economy will be very different in the years to come. It has already changed (see RBC report People wanted) before Covid-19, but Covid-19 will accelerate changes, especially towards a digital economy.
- As the RBC report found, neither employers nor educational institutions are ready for this change. There is a need for people with high levels of “transversal” intellectual skills that will enable them to adapt and change as the workplace changes.
- However, the higher education system still focuses on teaching methods from the industrial age. Most instructors are not trained in modern teaching methods that focus on skill development and most were completely unprepared to switch to online or blended learning. However, without changes in teaching methods and methods, we will not develop enough people with the high level skills required in an increasingly automated economy. Covid-19 has shown that there are best practices for online and blended learning and that most instructors are unaware of or trained in these best practices
- Then the way we teach needs to be changed to find graduates who will strengthen Canada’s economic development. This requires massive efforts to retrain both PhD students (the new HE workforce) and all existing university and college educators.
- There are systemic barriers to this change: The priority of research over teaching at universities; an increasing number of contractual part-time teachers at universities and colleges; academic freedom that makes the implementation of coercive measures impossible; and in some provinces (and possibly all post-Covid-19) provincial funding for post-secondary education is being cut, leaving little flexibility to find the extra time needed to train instructors on the job
How can the federal government help?
- The main need is a systematic and comprehensive retraining of the trainers. The federal government could provide funding to support such training, including financing the “buy-out” of a teacher from class for the equivalent of a semester to attend training courses and to replace that teacher with an additional or contracted instructor for that semester. It would also cover the additional cost of training contracts or part-time workers who are not currently paid for the time they spend on training.
- Most Canadian institutions have teaching, learning, and technology staff who know what training is required. Some institutions already offer training in the form of online courses for online teaching. For example, but these are optional and sporadic, and there is often insufficient time and resources to focus on the broader subject of a more appropriate pedagogy for skill development.
- The federal funds would be distributed to the provinces, which would be responsible for issuing contracts with the institutions to ensure that the funds are used as intended. These resources could be of a limited nature (over five years) to set up systematic training systems, but thereafter such regular training should be integrated into the regular operating budgets of the institutions.
- There is also a need for high quality Open Education Resources (OER) that can be used by teachers and students and that can be shared by all Canadian institutions. These would be particularly valuable for joint courses in the first and second year. At the moment, these materials are usually produced by individual faculties working alone within an institution, and as a result, the quality is often poor. The materials are also mainly in English. There is a particular shortage of high quality Francophone OER. There is also a lack of high quality videos and simulations in STEM subjects. It should be possible to work with provincial articulation committees to create a high quality, widely accepted and flexible OER using a team approach when there is a central funding pool. Since this has to be cross-provincial, funding could come from national networks such as Universities Canada and Colleges and Institutes Canada. This funding should take place annually or regularly so that the stock of high quality OERs is maintained.
- After all, there are huge shifts in post-secondary education due to Covid-19. Institutions, state governments and the federal government need good data on what is happening. Currently, a mainly volunteer group of researchers is the Canadian Association for Digital Learninghas pursued online and digital learning in Canadian post-secondary education for the past four years. Although the surveys cover all provinces and territories, it is funded primarily by the Ontario provincial government. The total budget is less than $ 175,000 per year and is meager depending on funding from provinces across the country. Regular and guaranteed funding of just under $ 250,000 per year is required to work effectively. Since this is a national project that covers both Anglophone and Francophone institutions, it would run much more efficiently if it had guaranteed federal funding for at least three years instead of asking the provinces for relatively small sums of money each year.
What would it cost?
Training of teachers in modern teaching methods
The aim would be for every trainer to receive at least basic training in modern teaching methods within five years. With a workforce of approximately 200,000 employees and a training semester at a cost of USD 5,000 per instructor, we see a total of approximately USD 1 billion over a period of five years, although USD 100 million per year over a period of five years is a large contribution to solve the problem.
A national program for quality OER
For OER, I estimate that about $ 20 million a year (for both universities and colleges) would go a long way towards providing high quality OER for post-secondary education in Canada.
Tracking the transition to digital learning
The CDLRA would pursue the transition to digital learning at an annual cost of $ 250,000.
Spread over 1.5 years at around 1.5 billion US dollars. You don’t have to go through the WE Foundation – just send me the check. I will make sure it is spent properly – scandal free.
Note: We are not the author of this content. For the Authentic and complete version,
Check its Original Source