As we cannot list all the many distance education programmer, nor mention all the aspects of distance education in Canada, we have selected some examples of available options. Our focus here is on post- secondary institutions (in Canada there are thirty universities which cater to distance learners) rather than on the many colleges and institutions which offer adult basic education and vocational training.
From a feminist perspective, one of the most exciting recent developments in distance education has been the proliferation of women's studies courses. The following courses, for example, as well as many others are available: Women in the Modern World (Acadia U.); History of Women in North America: 1830 to the Present (Acadia U. and Simon Fraser U.); Women and Work (Athabasca U.); Issues in Women's Health (Athabasca U.); Perspectives on Women: An Introduction to Women's Studies (Simon Fraser U.); History of Women and the Women's Movement (Laurentian U.); Sociology of Women (U. of New Brunswick); Women and Education (U. of Saskatchewan). At Memorial University in Newfoundland, a women's studies distance education program was started in 1986 and uses a multimedia approach including videotapes, readings, and teleconferencing.
In addition to the specific development of women's studies courses, many course authors are now including sections on women in the more traditional course content. At our home university (Simon Fraser), for example, Social Issues in Education includes a unit entitled "Standing on the Sidelines: Sexism and Inequality." Another course, Minorities and the Criminal Justice System, is organized into three parts, the longest of which is 'Women and the Criminal Justice System." (Women, though not a minority in terms of population, are very much a minority in the criminal justice system on both sides of the law.) Feminists in most parts of the world have challenged educators to transform curriculum so as to include all of humanity in course content and to rid existing course materials of androcentric bias. We are still a long way from the ideal state but within the distance education profession there is momentum toward achieving it. At the very least traditionalists can no longer expect to use "He-Man" language with impunity.
One reason for advances in curriculum choices for distance learners is the number of women involved professionally in distance education. They include researchers, course designers, course authors, counsellors, tutors, and administrators, as well as all the women who answer students' questions, distribute course materials and so on. Contrary to stereotype, women have also been in the vanguard of the uses of technology in distance education, and in the Atlantic Provinces women have been particularly strong in this regard. In 1982 Mount Saint Vincent University (Canada's first women's university) began its Distance University Education by Television program (DUET) which uses one-way video-conferencing to deliver university classroom courses to home study students. This system has allowed the Mount to reach an expanded student population in an instructional and cost-effective way. At Memorial University in Newfoundland, the divisions of Extension and Educational Technology have produced a videotape on women in the oil industry as part of an awareness and education program on women's concerns about the petroleum industry in their province. At the Université de Moncton, New Brunswick, women have played a vital role in the development of teleconferencing techniques for the delivery of distance education courses. Following the lead of the Atlantic provinces, women in distance education throughout Canada are taking initiatives in increasing access to learning through technological innovation.