This past Thursday Howard Griffith (MB Ed, Web Based Learning) was the presenter and Web-Based Courses were the topic…sounds interesting and unfortunately I was not available to make it to class. So in lieu of attending the presentation I have been doing my homework and doing some reading about Web-Based Courses, and specifically about the program and the courses offered here in Manitoba to students. The MB Government’s Education website has proved to be very valuable and you can read all about Web-Based Courses here in MB @ http://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/dl/wbc/index.html.
Web-Based Courses seem to me to be a natural progression in education from traditional Distance Ed learning courses, where students were sent a large package of course materials via snail mail and were required to send all assignments in via snail mail. In today’s digital age it makes sense to me that Distance Ed learning be done through the use of the internet, as it is so much quicker and resources for help are far more accessible.
I believe that Web-Based Courses are an excellent opportunity for students in a small rural or northern school where subjects that they are interested in may not always be offered, or are never offered due to limited numbers of students interested in the subject or to not having a teacher available with the necessary background knowledge/training to teach the course. This way these students can still have numerous options available to them and select courses that they need for their post-secondary education or for their own interest.
Manitoba is currently offering a variety of courses that are Web-Based to students from Grade 9-12. There are more courses available in each grade, with the most amount of choice at the Grade 12 level. While browsing through the list of courses while in Blackboard Learning System that is utilized for these courses, it caught my attention that Phys-Ed is offered to both the Grade 11 & 12’s. This may seem strange to some people, as most people would think it absolutely necessary for phys-ed to be taught in a gymnasium, however I find it interesting. The curriculum at this level is designed to encourage healthy lifestyle practices and students are responsible for a designated amount of activity hours outside of class. The implementation of the Grade 11 & 12 PE/HE curriculum has been said to be difficult for some schools, as space can be an issue when timetabling. A Web-Based Course could be the solution for some schools. I began to do some searching in the area of online phys-ed courses and discovered that in places in the US it has been offered this way for a few years. An interesting article on the topic can be located @ http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/02/education/02gym.html?pagewanted=all
I think that Web-Based Courses provide a lot of potential for education and for students. And they are certainly a great way to provide opportunities to students who may not otherwise have the opportunity to take a specific course. I also think that they provide great opportunities for some schools as Web-Based Courses could provide solutions for certain difficulties that are reality for a lot of schools.