By Wendy Terry
originally published May/June 2011
Just as there are in-class courses to attend in the summer, there are DE (distance education) courses too. These can be print-based courses (correspondence) or online courses, which could include audio or video conferencing with the teacher and/or fellow students.
Through DE, you can earn high school, college or university credits. Although many online courses are offered during the fall, winter or spring semesters, some are offered on a continuous or monthly intake basis so that you could take a course in the summer sitting on your balcony, or down on the beach.
Independent Learning Centre - Continuous intake
High School Credits
The Independent Learning Centre (ILC) is designated by the Ontario Ministry of Education to offer high school credit courses online and in print. Since ILC has continuous intake and a flexible schedule, you can start as soon as you register, and you can go as fast or as slowly as you want. If you have to deal with a family or work crisis, you don’t have to drop out and start all over again. You can earn your whole high school diploma this way.
The ILC is also the only provider of the GED test in Ontario, a way to get high school equivalency. Adults who successfully write the GED test will be granted a high school equivalency certificate. GED stands for General Educational Development.
English as a Second Language
ILC also offers ESL courses, credit and non-credit online. For these courses you need a volunteer tutor. Perhaps someone, who has been helping you informally, may be willing to help you work your way through one of these courses. Call 416-484-2704 or go to www.ilc.org.
Community Colleges - Monthly intake
The Durham College Continuing Education Course Calendar is clearly organized to show monthly intake DE courses. In the DE section, beside the course title, a large box with the letters MI makes it quite clear that this is a monthly intake course.
Durham also offers free sessions on how to navigate your virtual classroom when you register for an online course. For technophobes like myself this makes the thought of doing an online course less intimidating.
Durham also lists Fast Track courses offered in co-operation with Education-To-Go, a project of the Centre for Distance Education. These courses start every Wednesday. Each course runs for six weeks and consists of twelve lessons. For more information about Durham College call 905-721-2000, ext 2667 or 1-888-627-1191 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Durham’s online courses are offered through OntarioLearn , a consortium of 22 Ontario Colleges. See www.ontariolearn.com. On this website, click on Course Inventory, and you w ill see the courses are organized by monthly start dates, for example, click on June 1, 2011 or Aug 1, and you get the courses starting that month.
I found other helpful information in the other college continuing education calendars. The Humber College calendar has a section titled Online Learning at Humber; here there is a very clear chart of system requirements and hardware peripherals for online courses in both Windows and MacIntosh platforms. Since Humber College is part of the OntarioLearn consortium, I expect these are standard requirements for online courses.
There is no separate section for courses offered by DE; the regular courses are coded C for correspondence or W for Web under Location.
Humber also has an online quiz: “Is Online Learning for Me?” Its purpose is to help students figure out if they will be successful as online students. It would be a good idea to take this quiz if you have never taken a DE course before. Check it out at onlinelearning.humber.ca/selfevaluation.
The Seneca College Part Time Studies calendar notes DE courses that have monthly intake and run through the summer months in an easy to understand chart beside each course offered by the Distributed Learning Centre. Similarly, Centennial College notes in a line under each course in the DE section of the calendar if it has monthly intake. George Brown and Sheridan also offer courses by DE and list those in separate DE sections, though most are listed as semester-based.
If you need to do academic upgrading courses in math, science or English before you undertake a college course, you can also do these online. These have continuous intake and run through the summer months. See www.acedistancedelivery.ca
Universities- Continuous Intake
To take a university credit course in class or online you have to be admitted to a program, unlike the colleges which have open admissions. If you just want to take one course, not towards a degree, you can apply as a “non-degree student.”
That being said, the School of Continuing Studies at the University of Toronto and the G.Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson have open admissions for most courses. The School of Continuing Studies is a member of elearnnetwork.ca.
DE courses are offered by many universities across Canada. To find other university courses, online go to www.cauce-aepuc.ca. For example, Athabasca University is located in Alberta and offers university courses on a continuous intake basis. Though online, some are class-based; this means you go at the pace of the class and thus have a common start date. Other courses are listed as Independent which means you can start as soon as you are admitted and go at your own pace. Athabasca is part of the Canadian Virtual University, a group of Canadian universities who offer complete degrees on line.
The G.Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson does not have a print calendar, but the courses listed on its website indicate clearly whether they are in-class or on-line. Most seem to be term based, though a few have terms starting in late June.
Most universities offer online courses. (See also the Brock University story about it's Adult Education online program.)
If you want the convenience of online learning this summer, you have more choice than ever.