Long distance learning

By Brian Arkinstall

An interim agreement between the University of Calgary and Medicine Hat College will enable Medicine Hat nursing students to take their U of C post-diploma degree at home. Students previously took three years at mhc then a year at the University of Lethbridge to get their Baccalaureate of Nursing.

"I’m pleased the U of C is able to serve a broader range of Alberta students in their own backyards," said U of C President Terry White. "Our partnership with Medicine Hat College reflects a new reality in post- secondary education involving innovative partnerships and collaborations to meet the needs of our students and our communities."

Negotiations for the agreement began in May, but the agreement was signed last week.

"We did an in-depth appraisal of their [mhc] undergraduate program, and gave them prior learning assessment credit for nine of the 20 half-courses they would normally have to take to do a post-diploma degree," said Associate Professor of Nursing Kathy Oberle. "The agreement that we have is that students who are currently in the program at Medicine Hat will complete their diploma at Medicine Hat, and then will immediately apply at the U of C for our post-diploma degree. But rather than having to take 20 half course equivalents, they will have to take 11."

Unique to the new program is a significant change in the current nursing post-diploma degree program itself.

"Normally our students in the post-diploma degree program take it by a modified distance arrangement where their presence is required on campus for certain lengths of time to do labs and such," said Oberle. "The rest is mostly hard copy, but in the future that will be on the web."

Students can take the required courses in the existing U of C format until fall 1999; after that all courses will be on the web.

"If the students choose not to take their post-diploma courses in Medicine Hat, they can take them directly from the U of C," said Oberle. "Effective Fall ’99, there will be no face-to-face teaching happening in those courses, [at U of C] it will be all by web, and if they take the web courses, they have to pay extra fees."

This interim program is in effect until 2002 when all the students who have completed their diploma, or are currently in the diploma program through the current mhc curriculum, will have had the opportunity to take their post-diploma degree by this route. At that point, the program will cede to a new program currently being negotiated.

"We hope we will be able to negotiate an agreement whereby the students in mhc coming in, in fall 1999, will come directly into the U of C’s curriculum," said Oberle. "They will be on the Medicine Hat Campus for the full four years, but they will pay tuition to the U of C for part of that time. The U of C will award the degree, it will be the U of C’s curriculum, and we will supervise it. But it will be taught on the Medicine Hat campus."

Negotiations for the new collaborative program have just begun but are expected to proceed quickly.

"The two curriculums are quite similar," said Oberle. "Negotiations mainly involve working out how the students are enroled, and when they pay tuition to the U of C and when they pay it to mhc. We hope to have that all up and running so students coming in Fall ’99, will know that they are U of C students, and that they will end up with a U of C degree."

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