So, two days ago I brought up the former Diploma in Telelearning and Rural School Teaching that was offered the Faculty of Education at Memorial University of Newfoundland (see Teaching And Learning Online). Specifically I said:
I would go a step further and say that while there are a number of courses and even programs that focus upon distance education or online learning, that none are specifically focused upon K-12 distance education or K-12 online learning. The closest that I can think of, may be a Diploma in Telelearning and Rural School Teaching that was offered by the Faculty of Education at Memorial University of Newfoundland from around 2000-01 until at least 2003-04 – however, a view of the current calendar indicates that the program is no longer on the books (I’ll post another entry last this week that looks at this lost program).
Seeing as this is a new year, I’m trying to keep up with these promises to post follow-up messages – that way I don’t get too far behind. Anyway, what can I saw about this program. Well, it appears that the diploma program came about as the result of external funding obtained by Ken Stevens and Harvey Weir in 1998. A year earlier was when Memorial created the now defunct Centre for Telelearning and Rural Education (link via the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive) and hired Ken Stevens as the New Chair in TeleLearning for Memorial University (note that Ken still maintains an appointment at Memorial, even if the Centre no longer exists). The general purpose and vision of the Centre were described in an article that Ken wrote fo Prospects magazine entitled “The Place of Telelearning in the Development of Rural Schools in Newfoundland and Labrador“.
The diploma program itself required that students complete six courses:
Education 4900: TeleLearning in a Rural School Intranet
Education 4901: Effective Teaching Strategies for Multi-grade/Multi-age Classrooms
Education 4902: Special Needs in the Context of Rural Schools
Education 4903: Leadership Perspectives in Rural Schools
Education 4904: Contemporary Educational Issues in Rural Schools
Education 4905: Resource-based Learning in the Context of Rural Schools
And take another four courses from the following list:
Education 4906: Career Development in the Context of Rural Schools
Education 4907: Curriculum Connections in Multi-grade/Multi-age Classrooms
Education 4908: Rural Schools and Community Relationships
Education 4909: Rural Schools as Community Learning Centres
Education 4910: Curriculum Implementation in All-grade Rural Schools
Education 4911: TeleTeaching in a Virtual Classroom
Education 4912: Student Assessment in the Context of Rural Schools
Education 4916: General Classroom Music
Education 4920-4930: Special Topics in TeleLearning and Rural School Teaching
• Education 4920: Literacy in Small Rural Schools
• Education 4921: The teaching of Art in Small Rural Schools
Students were also responsible for or had the option to take (and I’m not clear on exactly how this worked):
Education 4913: Field-based Experience in a Rural School (TeleLearning) – 3 weeks
Education 4914: Field-based Experience in a Rural School (TeleTeaching) – 6 weeks
Education 4915: Field-based Experience in a Rural School (Multi-grade/Multi-age Classroom) – 9 weeks
I’d like to be able to tell you a little more about each of the courses, but according to the most recent course catalog the only course that is still offered is:
4901 Effective Teaching Strategies for Multi-grade/Multi-age Classrooms begins with a critical examination of traditional approaches to multi-grading. The main focus of the course will be to introduce teachers to the potential of adopting a multi-age approach in small schools which have of necessity grouped children of more than one age group and grade level together for instruction. This course will also examine the implications of implementing a philosophy of multi-age pedagogy in the primary, elementary and intermediate grades (K-9).
Interestingly, the only place that I was able to find all of the original course names is from an ad on page 17 of the December 2000 edition ofthe Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association monthly Bulletin. However, courses with titles like “TeleLearning in a Rural School Intranet,” “TeleTeaching in a Virtual Classroom” and “Special Topics in TeleLearning and Rural School Teaching” – not to mention “Field-based Experience in a Rural School (TeleLearning)” – lead one to envision the kinds of content that I described existing in many of today’s courses about K-12 online learning (see Teacher Education and K-12 Online Learning).
“The Diploma in TeleLearning and Rural School Teaching has recently been internally reviewed in light of lack of enrolment and the resource drain relative to delivery. It has been recommended that this Diploma be discontinued in its present form, but that its content be used both to develop a graduate thrust in this area and to enhance undergraduate program courses where possible.” (p. 10).
Also interesting to note that Memorial still includes the Diploma under its list of programs, but the Faculty of Education does not include it on their list. Personally, I think that it is too bad that this program had to end as I believe that it was ahead of its time.
Update: I have since found that through using the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive I am again able to pull up some of the course descriptions for the Core, Elective, Special Topics, and Field Experience courses. Take a look at the descriptions and I think you’ll find courses like Education 4900, Education 4911, Education 4920-4930, and the Education 4913/4914 field experiences would be quite useful for people interested in teacher education and K-12 online learning today.