Overview of the Strategic Mandate Agreement Proposals of Ontario’s Public Colleges and Universities: Online Learning Set to Expand and Become a Core function
"Lifelong learning is like Venice; each island is beautiful, but the real wonder stands in the bridges."
- Walter Kugemann, MENON Network
In this quote, replace "lifelong learning" with "the postsecondary education sector" and it provides a succinct outline of the fundamental challenge facing every postsecondary sector – to nourish and enable innovation and development in institutions while at the same time strengthening and leveraging the connections between them.
In the context of the current economic downturn, this challenge is particularly acute for Ontario's postsecondary sector. The Government of Ontario has asked postsecondary educators to imagine new ways to meet the educational quality, flexibility and access needs of Ontarians.
In response to what the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities has outlined as a need for increasing capacity, affordability, and access through collaboration, technology, and innovation, for new and flexible approaches to learning and teaching, and for a renewed focus on productivity and sustainability, each college and university has submitted a proposed strategic mandate agreement comprising a differentiated mandate statement, an institutional vision, and three priority objectives.
Online courses and programs and the use of technology for learning are integral parts of the visions and objectives put forward by the institutions. Institutional collaboration, facilitation of credit transfer, the creation of programs and institutes focused on institutional, regional, and provincial strengths and development, and pedagogies more focused on experience, research, and entrepreneurship emerge as key themes of these proposals.
As Ontario’s distance education and training network, Contact North | Contact Nord is particularly interested in the visions put forward in these documents of a postsecondary education system in which online, hybrid, and technology-enhanced learning are fully integrated. They usher in what will undoubtedly be a dynamic and fruitful sector wide conversation.
Contact North | Contact Nord is contributing to this public dialogue through this non-exhaustive analysis of the institutions’ proposed priority objectives to highlight what we see as the key patterns related to educational access, flexibility, student success, and university and college cooperation – and the central role to be played by technology in the future of postsecondary education in Ontario.
The picture that emerges is full of promise.