Glen Murray is Ontario's Best Choice for Technology and Education

by Dan Verhaeghe

Glen Murray, the former Research and Innovation Minister of Ontario, and the MPP for Toronto Centre, is the first to announce that he is running for premier.

Ontario currently is in a state of prorogue as Dalton McGuinty recently resigned after nearly nine years in office.

Technological change is rampant and the present times continue to be exceptionally interesting, so perhaps Dalton McGunity’s choice to suspend parliament is wise. It is also a minority government and nothing is really getting done. The official word is that McGuinty prorogued to avoid "opposition shenanigans," according to the CBC.

Glen Murray announced his resignation Saturday from his post as Minister of Training for Colleges and Universities. He was also a speaker at Xtreme Labs’ five-year anniversary party on Thursday. Xtreme Labs is a mobile development company that recently received funding from former Facebook VP Chamath Palihapitiya.

Murray's sparkling resume, aside from his ministerial positions, includes human rights activist achievements, as well as being the  mayor of Winnipeg from 1998 to 2004.

At Murray’s Liberal leadership announcement in a room above the old Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, he called Ontario’s education institutions world class and some of the best in the English-speaking world. The combination of educated talent allows Ontario, and particularly Toronto, to be one of the world’s greatest places to launch a startup alongside other giants like London and Silicon Valley, Murray says.

Ontario has recently made many strides on the tech education front. It includes the opening of the Quantum-Nano Centre after seven years of development at the University of Waterloo, Cisco’s opening of an incubation centre last week, and the University of Waterloo launching a new location for its campus in Stratford. The campus has two interesting new programs: Master of Digital Experience Innovation and the Global Business and Digital Arts program.

Murray is apparently taking an even more progressive stance on education. His position is that in order to lower tuition costs, e-learning must be relied on more.

But is having more than half of your university education online a good thing? That obviously depends on the program.

Some things are better learned in a classroom setting. Other things are better accessed via computers. The most important thing is having teacher assistant and professor support.

That is a current problem with e-learning as educators facilitating might not even be in the province. Still, lots of university students cut class anyway, though, and rely on the lecture notes online. Some prefer more online classes to in-person ones.

The question is, do we really believe technology is making the world a better place?

Many don't, and that will be the test of Murray’s incredibly ambitious mandate. He is a master planner, having won the President’s Award from the Canadian Institute of Planners, so I would not put being able to put a solid innovation plan for Ontario past him. We must remember that if we don’t use science and technology to innovate, we will get blown away by other regions, provinces, and nations anyhow.

Apple has been said to be slowly revolutionizing education, according to ReadWriteWeb. Over 2,500 high schools are now using iBooks instead of textbooks.

“In my 15 years of reporting on higher education, colleges and universities have come to remind me of other American content industries that have been disrupted in the last decade: newspapers and magazines, music, and book publishing,” said Jeff Selingo, a futurist and author says. “In many ways, colleges and universities are following the same playbook.”

Education is heading down a dangerous road in North America and Glen Murray has ideas on how to shape it towards the needs of today's workforce. If that doesn't happen, less people will go to school because it will be less relevant to do so.

The people of Ontario will need to put their traditional viewpoints aside and vote for what’s best for our province. It does not help the Liberals mishandled education recently as McGuinty admits. Justin Trudeau, in the running for the Federal Liberal Leadership race, echoed similar sentiments about putting ideologies aside.

The current stalemate is simply not good for anyone and the Liberals are trying to show Canadians that they would be the better choice to continue governing in Ontario.

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Dan Verhaeghe

Dan Verhaeghe

Dan Verhaeghe focuses on marketing, mobile, major technology players, entertainment, and new media. Dan has a dozen years of online experience that dates back to the turn of the millennium where he dominated a now non-existent online RPG game for a couple of years at the age of 15. He would eventually become a Toronto Blue Jays blogger who earned his way into Toronto's CP24 studios six years... more

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