The TeleEducation NB Programme Development Fund: Using distance education to promote economic development
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The initial TeleEducation New Brunswick Programme Development Fund (PDF) was a provincial economic development initiative that supported proposals for the design of online distance education courses and programs. It provided 50% funding to participating provincial companies, institutions, and organizations up to a maximum of $75,000. From 1993 to 1998, $4.4 million funding was distributed, with participants themselves contributing $7.1 million to the projects. The program supported 132 projects, creating 168 distance education courses. The PDF has provided NB institutions and companies with a gateway to the new advanced training technologies industry. As a significant component of the province's economic development strategy, the PDF has played a major role in positioning New Brunswick as a world leader in this increasingly important business sector. Participation has been strong from private companies, the community colleges, and the universities. Provincial organizations and K-12 schools also participated. There were 75 English-language (57%), 53 French-language (40%), and four bilingual projects (4%). The project holders were surveyed twice during the project and participants were interviewed. They identified development and delivery issues as being their most significant source of problems in the early period, but marketing was identified as the major problem area as the projects matured. A small number identified difficulties in evaluating their work. Seventeen specific recommendations were developed. Financial, planning and marketing advice from the participants is provided.