The committee framed their deliberations in terms of short, medium and long-term perspectives.
In the short term, three units (Business, Biology and Psychology) have been identified where the use of "electronic overflow rooms" or pre-recorded lectures has the potential to lead to cost or space savings in very large first-year courses or in courses where the physical infrastructure or teaching cohort does not allow for increased enrolments.
It is hoped that pilot projects will take place in all three units in September 2009.
It will be important to ensure that these pilots involve appropriately detailed consideration of the resulting learning experience and that we have in place clear and equitable policies covering access by students to physical versus virtual teaching, as well as clear policies on intellectual property and calculation of the role of faculty time in teaching in this way.
Some initial outlays may also be required to cover physical infrastructure and staff support.
In the medium term, there is a need to foster a culture of innovation in the use of technologies by means of the appropriate incentives to faculty members and units, including the allocation of time, technical support, a consistent electronic infrastructure, and a mapping of initiatives onto an overarching philosophy of teaching and learning.
In addition, development of teaching materials will give rise to significant issues of intellectual property and dissemination which will require consideration.
It will also be crucial to spend time discussing issues of virtualization with students.
In the longer term, the increasing pervasiveness of media and communication technologies is leading to the development of a series of new learning environments including student-driven social networking environments and peer learning communities (Facebook, wikis, student sharing of materials) and virtual worlds (Second Life).
Many of these environments replace physical presence with virtual, and a number are student-driven rather than teacher-centred. As such, they will challenge our existing conceptions of the top-down model of teaching and learning.
As well, as the demographics of Canada shift in the next two decades, with an aging population, increasing competition for faculty members, and a shift to the GTA, it will be important for Queen's to consider the role that technology might play in enhancing our current models of teaching based on continuous physical presence of students and faculty on the Queen's campus and regularly scheduled classes and assignments.
In all of these considerations, the committee reiterates the importance of tying all discussions of virtualization to our core values of teaching and learning and the centrality of interaction between teachers and learners, whether this be physical or virtual. Since this is a vast research area with many disparate projects and perspectives, it will be important as well for there to be better sharing and dissemination of what is learned across the campus and better coordination of incentives and initiatives.Back to Top
The committee considered a wide range of issues, including initiatives at Queen's and elsewhere, teaching and learning principles and practice, questions of implementation, intellectual property, training, and mentoring in support of innovation.
The committee recommends that this report be considered by the Principal, Vice-Principals and Deans, both on its own and in relation to the reports of related committees such as Enrolment and Space. In particular, if there is support for the pilot projects described above, some limited resources would need to be found if these were to take place by next September. Finally, it is important that the University community have the opportunity to comment on the way forward proposed here.