Sri Lanka looks to SFU to help modernization

April 28, 2005, vol. 33, no. 1

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For the next 18 months, eight SFU staff and faculty will be travelling to Sri Lanka to assist the Open University of Sri Lanka to enhance capacity in its distance education modernization project.

The bidding process to secure the U.S. $1.39 million contract saw SFU competing with the top universities and educational consulting firms in the world, including Melbourne University, British Council of the United Kingdom, and Carl Bro International in Denmark.

“There were seven competing bids from six countries and we were the highest-ranked bid,” explains Charles Joyner, director of international programs for continuing studies. “We won because our technical proposal included highly qualified and experienced SFU specialists and our financial package was extremely attractive. We presented a cohesive institutional approach to implementing the project that others couldn't do.”

Working with the staff at Open University of Sri Lanka will be eight SFU specialists, including Joyner, Colin Yerbury, dean of continuing studies, Denis Berube of financial services, Rob McTavish of the center for online distance education, assistant professor Janet McCracken of Surrey's interactive arts and technology program, graduate education student and sessional instructor Kumari Beck and Laura Millar, formerly of distance education. Together they will work to improve the Open University of Sri Lanka's administrative systems, education management systems, course writing, course delivery mechanisms and develop new programs in education technology.

The benefits for SFU, says Joyner, are not only the remuneration but the opportunity for staff to do long-term assignments in a very interesting environment. “It's valuable for staff to learn other methods and to see the conditions and constraints which others face - and their novel approaches to living and learning within those constraints.”

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