Canada's online learning research has suffered a severe blow. Its premier telelearning network has had its request for renewal funding turned down and will be dismantled in the spring.
The TeleLearning Network of Centres of Excellence groups 60 faculty from 28 Canadian universities. It evaluates new learning models, creates technologies and analyses the cost benefits and social impact of implementation.
It is part of Canada's Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE), a ten-year-old initiative that groups 22 virtual research centres.
TeleLearning's founder Linda Harasim has tendered her resignation over the decision. She criticised the two-tier process that networks have to pass through to renew their seven-year funding.
A panel of international e-learning specialists accepted TeleLearning's proposal. But it was rejected by a second committee of members from a variety of disciplines and sectors. Dr Harasim said that peer-review had been ignored.
Jean-Claude Gavrel, NCE director, said his organisation was shocked over the decision but that the process had to be respected.
Dr Harasim said research that was directly funded by the network would be stopped. TeleLearning is overseeing 32 projects, including Knowledge Forum, a software platform for student and teacher collaboration.