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February 10, 2020

Changing realities

A recent Pulse on VR report on the state of virtual reality in Canada shared that in 2017, the global virtual reality industry generated $6 billion in revenue, representing an 84% increase over the previous year. The report concluded that this trend is likely to continue, and this reality-virtuality continuum now includes mixed (MR), augmented (AR), extended (XR), virtual (VR), and every iteration in between!

Though we aren’t yet living in a totally virtual world, the implications of the virtual are very real. Even major international film festivals including Cannes, Sundance, and TIFF now make room in their lineups for what may become the future of filmmaking. But in the education space, VR is much more than just entertainment.

At Canada’s colleges and institutes VR, AR, MR, and XR experiences and technologies are making up an increasingly large part of programming. Not only do these institutions now offer programs teaching students how to use and develop virtual reality technologies, immersive simulators, and graphics enhancers, but the technologies themselves are also being incorporated into curriculum to enhance regular instruction and research. For example:

  • Lethbridge College appointed its first Applied Research Chair in virtual and augmented reality, working alongside the new Virtual and Augmented Reality one-year certificate to build up the V&AR ecosystem in southern Alberta. The college also hosted its second full-day “Merging Realities” conference held completely virtually.
  • The Virtual Clinical Immersion Centre (CVIC, Centre virtuel d’immersion clinique) at the Cégep de Shawinigan uses virtual reality and immersive simulation to help students develop skills in communication, decision making, clinical judgment, and prioritization, as well as technical skills within a lifelike hospital environment.
  • NAIT is part of the Heroes in Mind, Advocacy and Research Consortium (HiMARC) that is currently conducting a Motion-Assisted, Multi-Model Memory Desensitization an Reconsolidation (3MDR) research study using virtual reality stimuli to treat those suffering from PTSD.
  • In BCIT’s Automotive Service Technician program, students can use mixed reality to view, manipulate, disassemble and reassemble 3D holograms of scanned automotive parts overlapped with real-world settings. The institute also, last year, used virtual reality to deliver an introductory course in railway skills to a small group of Indigenous students living near Prince George.
  • Red Deer College’sVirtual Reality and Co-operative Trades program builds on a collaboration with Montana First Nation to redesign the traditional apprenticeship model and train apprentices before they enter the workplace through virtual reality.
  • A new dose of VR at Seneca College’s King campus gives nursing students a first-hand experience from the perspective of a patient living with dementia to inspire empathy and allows underwater skills students to experience hyperbaric chambers to avoid decompression sickness.
  • Mohawk College’s unique partnership with EON Reality on its new Interactive Digital Centre in AR and VR, gives students the opportunity to learn and help develop new applications with EON experts focusing on key industries such as manufacturing, aerospace defense, energy, and medicine.
  • Students in St Clair College’s Biomedical Engineering Technology program can learn about anatomy and physiology by virtually visiting hospitals and biomedical facilities abroad and taking apart and reassembling skeletons and muscles in VR.
  • At the Collège d’Alma, thanks to the two-year Project 360, nursing students can benefit from 360° immersive teaching videos that give students a new look at the hospital environment, including sounds from machines, movement of medical staff, and less common situations involving patients with mental illness.
  • NorQuest College in Alberta is using a similar VR teaching tool to allow students to see, hear, and engage in medical situations, and even practice administering insulin.
  • Durham College’s brand-new Mixed Reality Capture Studio gives partner organizations access to technical expertise, student talent, and a state-of-the-art motion capture stage to help develop immersive and interactive simulation for both training and performance optimization purposes.

The possibilities of VR in almost all sectors seem unlimited, but training and skills are key to realizing this potential. Colleges and institutes are expanding their role in training and research to help Canada, as a global leader in innovation, harness that potential for the social and economic benefit for all Canadians.

Don’t miss this year’s Leadership Institutes!

Our annual Leadership Institutes draw on the latest management concepts and experience to prepare participants to successfully lead in the college and institute system and contribute to institutional succession planning. This year we have two new options!

New this year:


Don’t miss this opportunity to interact with colleagues from across the country and become part of a networking group to facilitate further engagement and learning!

See you in Montreal!

This year, our 2020 Connection Conference is set to engage and challenge you with diverse keynotes including Bina48, one of the world’s most advanced social robots; a panel including Indigenous Advocate Nikki Fraser and Brookings Institution Senior Fellow John McArthur, and many more! Join us from May 3 to 5 – early bird registration ends on March 15!

On top of the main event, we are also hosting a pre-conference forum for colleges and institutes serving rural, remote, and northern communities that will gather leaders to explore best practices in sustainability of regional campuses and look at how colleges and institutes support the social, cultural and economic development of rural, remote and northern communities!

We can’t wait to see you in Montreal!

New partnerships to reduce sodium use!

We have a new national working group for our Beyond Salt project that will create and test teaching material for college and institute faculty in an effort to create a labour force equipped with the knowledge and skills to reduce sodium levels in food:

  • On creating new teaching materials: Assiniboine Community College, George Brown College, Holland College, La Cité, North Island College, Nova Scotia Community College, and Saskatchewan Polytechnic; and,
  • On testing materials: George Brown College, La Cité, North Island College and Nova Scotia Community College.

The results and products of this two-year pan-Canadian initiative will be available to all CICan members, for incorporation in courses and programs related to food production and preparation.

Beyond Salt is a new project funded by Health Canada, to gather, develop, and share teaching materials related to sodium reduction with the goal of creating a healthier future for Canadians!

New institutional partnerships in Tunisia

We are happy to announce new partners for our Education for Employment program in Tunisia! The first-round call for partnerships was for competency-based co-constructed licensing programs; short-term training programs; technical and pedagogical teacher training; entrepreneurship; and partnerships between colleges, institutes, and businesses:

  • In Béja, a consortium including Cégep Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Collège Communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick will specialize in agricultural machinery maintenance.
  • In Kef, Cégep de Matane and Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Ȋles will specialize in ecotourism.
  • In Kébili, Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Ȋles and Cégep de Matanewill also specialization in ecotourism.

Congratulations to the selected institutions! A second call for proposals is open until February 14.

Eureka! Moment

Did you know that the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT), in partnership with the BC Ministry of Advanced Education, has the opportunity to partner with Indigenous communities to offer community-based assessment services for prospective learners interested in completing post-secondary credentials? The in-community services include a summary of possible educational priorities for the community, individual education plans for each prospective learner, and the experiential learning necessary for each learner to either begin or return to their educational journey.


The Government of the Northwest Territories announced that Andy Bevan will take on the role of president of Aurora College in addition to his current role as associate deputy minister.

Coast Mountain College announced the appointment of Justin Kohlman as the college’s new president. Kohlman has been a part of Coast Mountain’s leadership team since 2015.


WFCP Awards of Excellence

Nominations for the WFCP Awards of Excellence are open until February 28.

Student Art Showcase

Students can submit their artwork to the 2020 Art Showcase until March 20.

Send Us Your News

One of our main goals at Colleges and Institutes Canada is to champion and share the innovations and awesomeness of our members. You can help! We want to hear about your new applied research, industry and community partnerships, international education, important financial investments and more. Add to your media mailing lists! We’ll share member institution News Releases and other upcoming announcements online and with our national media contacts based in Ottawa.