October 22nd, 2020

Alberta colleges helping students achieve success during COVID-19 pandemic


By Jensen, Randy on May 13, 2020.

Greg Bobinec

Lethbridge Herald

gbobinec@lethbridgeherald.com

Alberta’s colleges have played an important role in ensuring the success of their students, even in the face of exceptional circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Servicing all regions of the province, Alberta’s 11 Comprehensive Community Colleges (CCCs) have shown adaptability, innovation and care to make sure students were able to finish their programs on time, getting job-ready students in place to contribute to Alberta’s economic recovery.

“It took an incredible effort and show of faith from our entire campus community – faculty, staff and students – to make this ‘new reality’ a reality,” says Paula Burns, Lethbridge College president and CEO, in a release. “Our students are still receiving excellent education through online methods and they have reached a new level of communication and trust with their instructors.”

Alberta’s colleges took steps to ensure students met educational outcomes, had access to technology, had needed supports in place and were engaged in their learning, even with instruction moving out of the classroom and labs onto online platforms in March.

Alberta’s colleges immediately recognized the gap for many students that were faced with inaccessibility to technology and took steps to make sure all students had what they needed to meet their course outcomes. Portage College worked with the local Frog Lake First Nation to provide new laptops and printers for band members enrolled in studies. NorQuest College made similar efforts to ensure the critical tools needed got into the hands of students by providing over 300 laptops. Northern Lakes College also provided devices with preloaded course materials for students at home, and other colleges such as Medicine Hat College were able to keep computer labs open while maintaining social distancing and cleaning protocols.

Meeting learning outcomes was the top priority for all of Alberta’s colleges, and when classes moved online, faculty and staff found creative and innovative solutions to replicate the results provided by hands-on programs, practicum experiences and industry placements.

Lethbridge College Child and Youth Care students created resources for their practicum placement sites to meet the course requirements. Portage College Hairstyling students trained at home while working on mannequins. Lakeland College Human Services students learned through online simulations in place of on-site child-care practicums, and then the college opened up the technology to all Portage students registered in Human Services programs.

Along with meeting educational outcomes, Alberta’s colleges led the way to ensure student services were maintained in this new environment. Red Deer College and other institutions quickly transitioned library, learning supports and health and wellness resources to online platforms to make sure students had the tools they needed to succeed.

While undergoing never-experienced before circumstances, Alberta’s CCCs are ensuring they are remaining active and relevant to meet the needs of learners and the provincial economy.

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