Valerie Irvine and Irwin DeVries are working on a project documenting the history of open education in Canada. If you have run into Irwin in the last few months, chances are you’ve seen him lugging around some video equipment and maybe even tapping you on the shoulder to get a clip on the role you have played in the history of open education and edtech in Canada.
One of the areas where I am hoping to contribute to the project is around the role of educational radio in Canada. While radio courses have a very long and deep history, I find they often get forgotten when the history of edtech and open education comes up.
My personal perspective isn’t historically deep, considering the roots of radio education stretch back to the 20’s in Canada. I only goes back 20 years to the work I did in the mid 90’s at CKMO radio, a campus/community radio station located at Camosun College in Victoria BC. By the time I began working on radio courses there, educational radio was at the end of its run as a robust delivery platform for open courses. Funding for one of the pillars of educational radio stations in Canada, CJRT in Toronto, had just been pulled by the then Conservative government in Ontario, and CKUA in Edmonton was also under severe financial strain.*
However, as shallow as my perspective may be, I know when something doesn’t look quite right, like the Wikipedia article on the Open College in Toronto (link leads to old version of the page). When I looked at the article this morning, the first sentence popped out at me:
That is a pretty bold statement considering that, even with my short term 20 year horizon to draw on, I can name at least 2 other radio-based university-credit distance education providers in CKUA in Edmonton and CKMO in Victoria. Both offered open courses on the air and both were accredited; CKUA through Athabasca University and CKMO through Camosun College. CKUA in Edmonton is often credited with being the first radio station to program educational content, starting in 1927.
So, I hit edit and made a change to Wikipedia to fix what, I think, is an inaccurate statement. The first line of the article now reads:
Now when people read about the history of Open College, they will see that they were not the only ones doing this. As important as Open College was, there were others doing formal radio based educational programming in Canada.
Update: Grant Potter, also lover of radio and quick on the draw with finding cool stuff on the web, shared this video about the early history of CKUA.
*An aside: CKUA and Athabasca offered up one of the finest explorations of music I’ve ever heard with the fantastic radio course Ragtime to Rolling Stones which, if you listened to it on CKUA in the early 90’s was free to hear. But if you try to access it via the web today….well.)