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The Learning Communities Project: Bringing distance education to Alberta's remote work camps and rural areas. Patrick Fahy & Nancy Steel Athabasca University CNIE Conference, Banff 29 April, 2008 Banff Park Lodge. Origin of the Learning Communities Project.

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The Learning Communities Project: Bringing distance education to Alberta's remote work camps and rural areas

Patrick Fahy & Nancy Steel

Athabasca University

CNIE Conference, Banff

29 April, 2008

Banff Park Lodge


Origin of the learning communities project
Origin of the Learning Communities Project education to Alberta's remote work camps and rural areas

  • Athabasca University model: open and distance university offerings on various “lines”

  • DE model: reduce barriers for remote, rural communities, camp residents, due to work, personal realities

  • Project funded by a donation from Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNQ), in-kind from AU.

    • Develop people, wants competitive advantage.

    • Do well while doing good.


Project objectives
Project objectives education to Alberta's remote work camps and rural areas

  • To transform the workplace and communities.

  • To address personal goals with respect to career change, advancement.

  • To find new ways of creating learning communities in rural and remote areas.

  • (For corporate sponsors): To address problems attracting and retaining skilled workforce

  • To identify and promote viable offerings from Alberta institutions


Project principles
Project principles education to Alberta's remote work camps and rural areas

  • Focus on 4 targeted audiences: camp workers, northern and rural residents, aboriginals

    - Initial focus on CNQ’s Horizon construction site workforce

  • Develop partnerships to provide access to range of target groups, based on ongoing assessment of needs, interests, and preferences

    - Offerings must offer “distance” access

  • Communities contribute access, time, expertise, and material support


What is distance education
What is distance education? education to Alberta's remote work camps and rural areas

Same time Different time

synchronousasynchronous

Same Place 1 2

Site-bound

Different Place 3 4

Site-independent


Communities of present lcp interest
Communities of present LCP interest education to Alberta's remote work camps and rural areas

  • Horizon site (mobile workers)

  • Wood Buffalo region (Fort Chipewyan and Fort MacKay)

  • Cold Lake (town and CFB Cold Lake)

  • Three Hills

  • Wabasca

  • Fort St. John, B.C.


Numbers of horizon site workers
Numbers of Horizon site workers education to Alberta's remote work camps and rural areas

Total workers on site = 19,720

  • 1,108 CNQ employees

  • 18,612 contract workers

  • 2,176 Female

  • 17,544 Male


Characteristics of horizon site workers
Characteristics of Horizon site workers education to Alberta's remote work camps and rural areas

  • Worksite 70 Km north Ft. McMurray – often a 2 hour drive

  • Residence lodges (5)

  • Largely construction workers

  • Work long shifts, outdoors, overtime, “mobile”

  • Often find free time boring


Lcp activities on site
LCP activities on site education to Alberta's remote work camps and rural areas

  • Project “launches” at 5 camps

    • Set-up in lobby areas

    • Materials on hand, staff available to answer questions and take requests for detailed information

    • Researcher present to record nature of inquiries & requests

  • Speaker series

    • “Eating for Health”

    • “Life Balance”

  • MBA Sessions

    • The AU MBA program


  • Findings learning preferences expressed
    Findings: Learning preferences expressed education to Alberta's remote work camps and rural areas

    • 36% Business, Finance & Management

      • MBA

      • Project Management

      • Business Administration, Accounting, and HR

  • 34 %Trades & Engineering

    • Blue Seal

    • Health & Safety

    • Red Seal

    • APEGGA courses or exam preparation


  • Finding learning interests expressed
    Finding: Learning interests expressed education to Alberta's remote work camps and rural areas

    • Others:

      • Computer applications, including Microsoft Office

      • English as a Second Language

      • Foreign Languages – Spanish, Italian, French

      • Academic upgrading, or grad 12 equivalency

      • General interest: fitness, guitar, flight training, martial arts


    Responses to inquiries
    Responses to inquiries education to Alberta's remote work camps and rural areas

    • Inquiries from events or other forwarded to AU Advising for a timely response.

    • Research team follows up re customer / student satisfaction, intentions.


    Issues and challenges
    Issues and challenges education to Alberta's remote work camps and rural areas

    • Communication on-site is complicated – no common link

    • Organizing events time-consuming and complex – procedures and people constantly changing

    • Audience is shift / mobile workers; may be temporary foreign workers

    • Computer/internet access not always available to or used by all

    • Potential students often not familiar with, or actually skeptical about, distance education


    Research products to date
    Research products to date education to Alberta's remote work camps and rural areas

    • Seven Occasional Reports

    • Interim Report 1

    • Literature annotations

    • Paper submitted to peer reviewed journal

      “Post-Secondary Learning Priorities of Workers in an Oil Sands Camp in Northern Alberta” (In review)

    • Baseline study

      “Programming Available and Requested in Remote Areas of Alberta” (In progress)


    Next steps
    Next steps education to Alberta's remote work camps and rural areas

    • Continue regular information and speaker sessions at the Horizon site

      • Population will soon change once into production

  • Intensify research into learning interests in other identified communities outside the oilsands

  • Continue Occasional Reports (formative evaluation)

  • Continue to produce papers for peer-reviewed journals (dissemination)

  • Continue to evaluate project operations (1 more interim report, final report at project end)


  • For more information
    For more information … education to Alberta's remote work camps and rural areas

    • Website: http://www.athabascau.ca/lc/

    • Email: [email protected]


    Thank you
    Thank you education to Alberta's remote work camps and rural areas

    • Pat Fahy ([email protected])

      • 866-514-6234

    • Nancy Steel ([email protected])

      • 866-569-8051


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