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Exciting Visit to the University of Calgary and the Learning Commons: To Blend, or Not to Blend...
Saturday, November 19, 2005
I visited the University of Calgary this week Tuesday and Wednesday for a couple of talks to the instructors there as well as from nearby places. The people (e.g., Randy Garrison) who brought me there were from the Learning Commons (see Kim, K.-J., Liu, S., & Bonk, C. J. (2005). Online MBA students' perceptions of online learning: Benefits, challenges and suggestions. Internet and Higher Education, 8(4), 335-344, They are perhaps at the forefront of e-learning thinking and training. I found articles on e-learning and blended learning at their Web site. Their president has provided monies for faculty to embed inquiry learning in their college courses. I read through the projects that have been funded and they represent a wide range of areas--business, philosophy, kinesiology, nursing, etc. And they are quite innovative. I was really wondering why they needed me. But they indicated that my talks on blended learning and the perfect e-storm went well.

BJ Eib, who used to work with me at Indiana University was there and kind and gracious enough to organize a dinner on Tuesday night. BJ got more professional development grants when at IU than anyone I have known. And she knew how to deliver high quality programming. She worked in our Center for Excellence in Education (CEE) which showcased educational technologies at IU to the world. Thanks to faculty I work with (who decided to build the Center for Research on Learning and Technology) and various administrative decisions during the past 6-7 years, the CEE no longer exists. It is unfortunate indeed. But that is life in higher education--a life of politics.

Now back to my story...They use quite a range of tools in Calgary including Blackboard, Elluminate, and a low level version of Breeze. Areas they have been pushing e-learning and blended learning there include continuing education, business, kinesiology, educational research, social work, nursing, and engineering. They had a large jump in online courses (from 400 to 900) during the past 2 years since switching from WebCT to Blackboard. They have gone from 60 percent of students having exposure to the CMS to 80 percent. Telehealth also seems to be important there with even some new ventures into video displayed brain surgery over the internet. The use of Clickers for live student polling is also increasingly popular there.

I presented in a great room in the biological sciences building with a large rear screen projection, a sound person, a TV at the back of the room which served as a teleprompter, a prop table, tiered seating, and just a great layout. It was fun to present in there. One of the best rooms to present in ever and perhaps the best one of the year. Unfortunately, my 2 short days there were cold. Next week I travel to the north--to Edmonton--right after finishing Thanksgiving dinner at my moms house in Milwaukee. This will be 2 trips to the province of Alberta in a little over a week and have never been to that province before in my life. How strange! And with visits to Seattle last week and Vancouver 3 weeks ago, I will have been in the northwest 4 times in 1 month and I have not been there in 4 years. How strange is that? Perhaps e-learning is expanding in Canada and the NW just as it is in the UK.
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  posted by Curt Bonk @ 5:40 PM  
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About Me

Name: Curt Bonk
Home: Bloomington, Indiana, United States
About Me: I am a former accountant and CPA and a former educational psychologist. I am now Professor of IST at Indiana University and also adjunct in the School of Informatics. I founded and later sold SurveyShare. As president of CourseShare, LLC, I run around the world training instructors to teach online and give motivational talks about emerging learning technologies. I also write and edit books related to e-learning and blended learning. See bio and vita.

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Click here for information about my recent book, The World is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education.

Visit the Indiana University Home Page of E-Learning Expert Curtis J. Bonk.

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