Moving learning and teaching online
At Canada’s post-secondary institutions, online learning options are rapidly expanding. The Canadian Digital Learning Research Association’s latest report gives us a comprehensive look at the state of online learning in Canada, and highlights that 76% of institutions offer some form of online learning, and that interest in a wide range of alternative credentials continues to grow. In the current global context, this data is more relevant than ever and quickly changing.
In a previous issue of Perspectives, we shared the online, distance, and blended learning approaches that colleges and institutes have championed in almost every subject area. With such a strong history in online and blended learning methods, colleges and institutes all across the country were able to respond to distancing measures associated with COVID-19 incredibly quickly.
Within a week, Collège communautaire de Nouveau-Brunswick shared that it had converted 85 of its programs to online formats allowing 2,000 students to continue learning despite campus closures; in just four days, College of the North Atlantic implemented an extensive Academic Programs Continuity Plan to move 181 of 205 programs online; and at St Lawrence College classes are being delivered through a combination of online and digital simulations and collaborations until August, to name just a few. And now, as many colleges and institutes are working through the finer points of transitioning their regular programming online, still more are moving to train and support students, faculty, and community partners in unique online ways:
- BCIT has created an online, self-directed fast-track education course to help frontline registered nurses and healthcare providers acquire the focused knowledge they need to provide support to patients with COVID-19.
- Algonquin College is launching a series of free virtual training opportunities ranging in length from two to four days to support the local business community. Courses include Business Analysis in an Agile Environment, Project Management, and Change Management.
- As a way of saying thank you to community members for doing their part to limit the spread of COVID-19, Canadore College is offering modules from six general education courses free online on topics ranging from astronomy to film and world culture.
- The Centre for Teaching, Learning, and Innovation at Lethbridge College is offering its first, freely available open course on facilitating online learning for instructors, aiming to address challenges of online student retention and satisfaction and offer practical strategies for online classrooms.
- Collège La Cité, in collaboration with a local radio station and the newspaper Le Droit is offering a series of free public webinars on subjects like business, health, and family, and has developed a resources website designed for students adapting to distance learning during this time.
- Collège de Rosemont, in Montreal, quickly formed a new partnership with Insertech, a local tech company, to ensure that students have the equipment they need to successfully continue their studies at home.
- Elsewhere in Quebec, many institutions have taken advantage of funding through the government’s Programme d’actions concertées pour le maintien en emploi (Unified actions to maintain employment) plan to ensure that businesses are able to successfully rebound once COVID-19 measures are lifted:
- The Collège de Maisonneuve shared that it is improved online course offerings through the program, developing short training opportunities in online project management and team coordination, human resources, and managing a culture of diversity in the workplace.
- While the Cégep de Rimouski is offering 35 new training opportunities for businesses including strategies in remote working, file-sharing and online communications and language improvement classes.
While studying and working online can open up access to education beyond geographical barriers, it may also pose challenges to maintaining mental health for students, staff, and faculty as many face additional personal, academic, and financial stresses. The Government of Canada has launched a new online Wellness Together Canada platform providing free online resources, tools, apps and connections to trained volunteers and qualified mental health professionals. Be sure to take advantage of these great resources.
Continuing business and advocacy during COVID-19
As we all continue to work together to support each other and those most vulnerable in our communities, we are pleased to share clarification from the federal government on a few recent advocacy wins that benefit students:
- For students and employers: during our weekly COVID-19 webinar, Employment and Skills Development Canada (ESDC) shared changes made to the Student Work Placement Program (SWPP) to assist students and employers during the COVID-19 outbreak.
- For summer jobs: the federal government announced temporary changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program that will help employers hire summer staff and help create up to 70,000 jobs for youth between 15 and 30 years of age.
- For college and institute research grants: NSERC, CIHR, and SSHRC are looking to rapidly mobilize support and expertise related to COVID-19. Grants of up to $75,000 for one-year projects are being made available on expedited timelines through the College and Community Innovation program.
- For international students: Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has extended online delivery exemptions for Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) eligibility for international students. We continue to ask for flexibility should the situation not improve and students remain unable to travel to Canada for reasons beyond their control.
Don’t forget that our COVID-19 webpage gathers all of our most recent updates, including advocacy with the federal government and freely available teaching and learning resources. Be sure to check in often! Join our weekly webinar series for updates on our efforts in Ottawa and to share amongst yourselves how the situation is evolving in your various regions and what approaches you are taking to tackle the challenges. Join us every Friday!
Postponement of Leadership Institutes
Given the continuing concerns over COVID-19, and in keeping with the recommendations of public health officials to avoid large gatherings and limit non-essential travel, we have made the difficult decision to postpone this year’s summer Leadership Institutes to June 2021. Registered participants have been contacted and are eligible for a full refund or transfer of registration fees to summer 2021.
Leadership Institutes scheduled to take place in November 2020 will continue as planned unless otherwise noted. Our primary concern has been, and will always remain, the health and well-being of our members, participants, and partners.
Help identify challenges posed by COVID-19
As the COVID-19 crisis is affecting the way we work and learn in an unprecedented manner, take a few minutes to help identify current challenges and assess the future impacts of the crisis on teaching and learning.
Statistics Canada is looking to hear from post-secondary students how the current crisis has affected their studies and financial situation, including concerns about their academic future, and the financial strain of paying for tuition, rent and other expenses as a result of the pandemic. Share your perspectives with Statistics Canada.
The United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNESCO also want to know how each of you are feeling repercussions of the crisis. Help technical and vocational education and training (TVET) providers, policymakers, and social partners develop quick, practical, and innovative solutions to identify and address challenges faced by training institutions in order to better prepare for potential negative impact of the crisis. Share what responses are urgently needed to address the crisis and its impacts.
New innovation opportunities to bring researchers together
Researchers across the country are coming together to fight COVID-19 and collaborating to bring their expertise and ideas to their fullest potential. Through the College and Community Innovation program, NSERC, CIHR, and SSHRC are rapidly mobilizing college and institute expertise with new funding opportunities.
Canadian scientists and research partners have also launched two unique platforms designed to maximize innovation potential:
- The new CanCOVID platform, as mandated by Canada’s Chief Science Officer, Dr Mona Nemer, will expedite communication and collaboration between the scientific, healthcare and policy communities during the COVID-19 crisis; and,
- Put together by a group of Canadian researchers, students, activists and web developers, COVID-19 Resources Canada is a central hub designed to help those involved in COVID-19 research and development in Canada to locate human resources, expertise, equipment, and information in a timely manner.
Visit both to help Canadians maximize their innovation potential.
Did you know that the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology has launched a new program with Film Training Manitoba as a creative new way to sustain learning through online platforms during COVID-19? The web-based ACTION! Program offers 30 MITT students or alumni from carpentry, hairstyling, and culinary arts a free tuition credit towards FTM’s online courses and opens participants up to a variety of new and exciting employment opportunities!
The Centre technologique en aérospatiale (CTA) at the Cégep Édouard-Montpetit announced the appointment of Francis Archambault as the centre’s new director general. With 25 years of experience in management and business development in the aerospace sector, Archambault joined CTA in 2019 and took on his new role earlier this month.
The Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec announced the reappointment of Liza Frulla as the institute’s director general. In the position since 2015, Frulla’s mandate has been renewed for an additional five years.
Cégep Garneau announced the appointment of Caroline Boulay to the position of Director of Continuing Education. With 20 years of experience at Cégep Garneau, Boulay will take on her new role effective May 6.
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