Alberta-North www.alberta-north.ca is a unique collaboration of post-secondary schools working together to provide learning opportunities for adult learners in rural and remote northern communities. The partners involved are Athabasca University www.athabascau.ca, Grande Prairie Regional College http://www.gprc.ab.ca, Keyano College www.keyano.ca, NorQuest College www.norquest.ab.ca, Northern Lakes College www.northernlakescollege.ca, Portage College www.portagecollege.ca and Aurora College www.auroracollege.nt.ca. Through a network of 85 community learning sites http://www.alberta-north.ca/cap-site-locations/, residents have access to more than programs and course, there are learning support services on-site along with technologies, resources, equipment and high speed internet. To learn more about Alberta-North and the services available, visit our web site http://www.alberta-north.ca/about-us/.
In this complex and distributed network of organizations and services, communication and professional development are certainly challenging. Learning support facilitators are at locations dispersed across northern Alberta and throughout the Northwest Territories, so professional development needs to be responsive to busy schedules and distributed locations. Since the northern institutions have adopted Moodle www.moodle.org as their common LMS, and a provincial license pool of Elluminate Live! www.elluminate.com was available through eCampusAlberta www.ecampusalberta.ca, we were quick to use those systems to revitalize our professional development offerings. For the recent launch of our online staff enhancement plan we have posted orientation and training resources on Moodle and are conducting real time activities and discussion by web conferencing to provide additional opportunities for dialogue and sharing. Our plan is to use the online PD to build to our annual Symposium www.alberta-north.ca/symposium, this year hosted by Northern Lakes College in Peace River.
Two new professional development initiatives are on-stream this year for faculty and staff across the north. One is a Professional Learning Series http://scope.bccampus.ca/course/view.php?id=251, a joint initiative with eCampusAlberta www.eccampusalberta.ca and BCcampus www.bccampus.ca that provides monthly web conferences on topics related to online learning and course development. The most recent session was authentic learning and assessment with Doug Hamilton and Sandra Rogers, Royal Roads University www.royalroads.ca. Earlier sessions were on various topics ranging from Canadian copyright consultation with Maureen Baron, CNIE www.cnie-rcie.ca, to course design principles for engagement with Sheila Whitmore , eCampusAlberta www.ecampusalberta.ca. To help bridge the time constraints of synchronous delivery, the sessions are archived on BCcampus’ SCoPE website http://scope.bccampus.ca for anyone who misses the web conference. The second initiative enables faculty and staff of our member organizations to take advantage of the benefit of having a common LMS. We are developing a Moodle Community of Practice to expand and foster sharing of expertise. As this evolves, I will inform you of the results.