After 10 years, eCampusAlberta now offers more than 70 programs and 800 online courses through 16 post-secondary institutions to reach students all over the province.
The consortium, represented by two institutions in Central Alberta in Olds College and Red Deer College, was created in 2002 as a non-profit society.
On Wednesday, the society celebrated 10 years with a webcast video-conference of the 16 institutions and remarks from Stephen Khan, minister of Enterprise and Advanced Education.
“We want to make sure every student has an opportunity to come to post-secondary education,” said Joel Ward, Red Deer College president.
“If you’re qualified we’ll take you, if you’re not qualified we’ll find a way to get you qualified, then we’ll take you, and if you don’t have money, we’ll find a way to get you the scholarships and bursaries to ensure you have access to post-secondary.
“Now we’re saying if you live too far away from a community where there is a post-secondary institution, we can help you there, too.”
About 1,000 people have registered with the Red Deer eCampusAlberta version, which offers programs such as educational assistant certificate, early learning and child care diploma, pharmacy technician certificate and virtual assistant certificate.
“What’s most important for eCampusAlberta is it’s an opportunity for learners all over the province, who might not have access to a post-secondary institution, to have the same quality experience they would if they were on campus,” said Ward.
“And the ability to collaborate with other students taking the same course and the ability to stay close to home.”
Learning through eCampusAlberta is all done online and Alice McNair, Red Deer College dean of Learning Resources, said it is very different than coming to class.
“I think it’s compensated for by having really rich curriculum and great learning activities as a way to engage the student,” said McNair.
“It’s different and it is more difficult, but it’s not insurmountable. In many ways, online learning is helping us be better teachers in the classroom.”
Last year, eCampusAlberta received more than 18,000 course registrations and since it’s inception in 2002, there have been more than 76,000 course registrations.
The society services students from more than 480 Alberta communities.
Other member institutions include Grande Prairie Regional College, Grant MacEwan University, Lethbridge College, Medicine Hat College and Southern Alberta Institute of Technology Polytechnic.
Ward said people who don’t live near a post-secondary institution are less likely to get a post-secondary education.
“We all know a post-secondary education leads to better jobs, higher income and a better quality of life,” said Ward.