Société de formation à distance des commissions scolaires du Québec

After the Ministry of Education ended their direct involvement in distance education, and the school boards became responsible for this function, the school boards supported the creation of the Société de formation à distance des commissions scolaires du Québec (SOFAD). At present, SOFAD has 27 online courses, which correspond to the programmes of the Ministry of Education, on its e-learning portal – eduSOFAD. Of these 27 courses, 21 are in French and 6 are in English, while 23 of them are considered general education and the other 4 are in vocational education (and are in French only).

A group of these courses are directly related to the ministerial programme of study in Accounting and Secretarial Studies (e.g., communication bilingue or bilingual communication; outils de télécommunication or telecommunication tools; recherche d’information or researching information; and réunions d’affaires or business meetings. This Accounting and Secretarial Studies programme is based on a new framework for developing vocational education programmes that calls for the participation of experts from the workplace and the field of education. The programme of study was developed in terms of competencies, expressed as objectives and divided into modules. Various factors were kept in mind in developing the programme, such as training needs, the job situation, purposes, goals, and strategies and means used to attain objectives. The programme of study lists the competencies that are the minimum requirements for a Diploma of Vocational Studies. It also provides the basis for organising courses, planning teaching strategies, and designing instructional and evaluation materials.

qc-vignette One of the authors of these vocational education online courses at SOFAD is also a tutor in one of the school boards that offer the pedagogical support to the students for these courses. She underlines the importance and usefulness of the communication resources. Students are able to e-mail her, and she will respond within 24 hours. Students can also phone during her two periods of availability or leave a message if she is in the classroom. She also uses the students’ online course planners to write comments about

the student’ assignments, which she feels is another useful communication tool. With these varies ways to interact and provide support to the students, she enjoys working in these online courses very much.

The courses are entirely self-paced, asynchronous course. The courses provide the students with all the material, assignments, tools, and resources (e.g., a planner, a learning log, a self-evaluation activity) needed to complete the objectives independently. The material is presented in a multimedia environment that allows interaction, immediate explanations, and feedback. During the online learning, students can check their progress through several methods that are part of the course structure. The time allowed to finish a course can vary based on the school board, but is generally fixed at about six months. There is a required final examination that is supervised at the local level to complete the course.