By Jensen, Randy on September 8, 2020.
Lethbridge College students, faculty and staff will begin a new academic year this fall unlike any other in the 63-year history of the college. However, the college is using a variety of techniques to help ensure instructors are equipped to deliver the high-quality education students expect from the college.
When classes resume this month, academic and trades programs will be offered in a flexible learning environment, meaning some courses will be offered online through a variety of technologies, while some others – such as labs and experiential learning opportunities – will take place on-campus, incorporating new physical distancing and safety protocols.
To help instructors adapt to these changes, the team at the college’s Centre for Teaching, Learning and Innovation (CTLI) has been working with the college’s teaching community to help them navigate these uncharted waters. Their work began when the COVID-19 pandemic first forced a shift to alternative delivery models in March and has continued ever since.
“We have spent the summer teaming up with departments across the college, such as Student Affairs, IT and Web Services, to build tools and resources, adjust services, troubleshoot systems and processes and test out new software so both faculty and students have the support they need for a successful learning experience in the fall,” says Jaclyn Doherty, Dean of the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Innovation, in a news release. “We know we won’t always get it perfect, but we’ll do our best to meet them where they are at, when they need it the most.”
To help faculty and instructors deal with the technological demands of the new teaching environment, CTLI has filled its learninginnovation.ca website with resources for faculty members. The CTLI team has also put together tech tool kits that include video cameras, tripods and microphones for recording lectures; Go-Pro cameras so instructors in programs such as trades or Environmental Science can offer students a first-person point of view of hands-on techniques; and iPad and Surface tablets. The team has also converted private breakout rooms in the learning commons into teaching studios where instructors can capture lessons using a variety of technologies.
In addition to technical tools and support, CTLI is also providing courses and workshops to support Lethbridge College instructors, including the Universal Design for Learning micro-credential, and the free and open Facilitating Online Learning course that was accessed by more than a 1,000 people across Canada. CTLI has also developed teaching and learning tool kits, back-to-school workshops and an intensive two-week orientation for new Lethbridge College instructors.
“The resources provided for instructors by CTLI have been incredible,” says Kris Hodgson-Bright, Digital Communications and Media instructor. “The sessions for online and blended course design have created some exciting and innovative ways to deliver content where students are interacting and presenting back to the class, as well as using other active learning strategies that will keep the conversations going. They’ve also helped me to become more familiar with Zoom and ways to teach classes synchronously or asynchronously, to ensure students can work through content in the style that suits them best.”
Many trades programs began the new academic year the last week of August, while most other programs begin classes this week.
CTLI works collaboratively to provide a broad range of services and offers support to faculty and students from all academic centres and programs. CTLI supports excellence in teaching and learning through special initiatives like a digital collection of resources, supporting research into teaching and learning, and maintaining the college’s learning management system.