Balancing the health and safety of its entire campus community with the learning needs of its students has been the recent focus for Lethbridge College. As of March 18, all classes were moved to alternate online delivery models to ensure students can remain socially distanced to help stop the spread of COVID-19, while also successfully completing their academic terms.
“It has taken an incredible effort and show of faith from our entire campus community – faculty, staff and students – to make this ‘new reality’ a reality,” says Dr. Paula Burns, Lethbridge College President and CEO. “I believe our students are still receiving excellent education through online methods, and they have reached a new level of communication and trust with their instructors. I want to thank our entire campus community for their incredible work during these unprecedented times.”
Students and faculty have been using technology, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Canvas Conference, to remain connected and deliver curriculum. Many instructors have adapted their teaching styles to help students through the transition.
“Students can call me any time on Zoom and we can meet one-on-one,” says Cherie Reitzel, Interior Design Technology and Architectural Animation Technology instructor. “This is so necessary right now. It takes a little more time each day, and yet, I feel unbelievably blessed to have this time with them.”
Within the first week of alternate delivery, several instructors and students have already demonstrated innovation in teaching and learning, including:
- Students in the School of Justice Studies running live mock trials through Zoom.
- Child and Youth Care students developing resources for their practicum sites as a way of meeting placement requirements and demonstrating competencies.
- Early Childhood Education students completing placements through virtual activities.
Others have focused on staying connected through social means, such as students requesting virtual classrooms remain open so that they can socialize together, while Reitzel has taken to writing songs for her students to keep the mood light during stressful times.
“Students need to feel loved and cared for right now,” says Reitzel. “I will do anything I can to care for them, support them, amuse them or make them laugh. I believe learning happens when teachers can give their friendship, trust and time – and these things ultimately supersede any physical infrastructure.”
Lethbridge College has kept student services available both online and on-campus, while taking steps to stop help the spread of COVID-19, such as moving all courses online, having as many employees as possible working from home and asking Residence students who are able to, to move home as soon as possible.
“I now want to shift some of our focus to supporting our broader community,” says Dr. Burns. “The federal government asked post-secondary institutions how they can help, and I indicated that we have both medical supplies and 3D printing capabilities that could be of use during this pandemic. I have also reached out to Alberta Health Services on a local level to see if they have identified any gaps where our people or resources could be of use.”
Lethbridge College is compiling information related to college operations online at lethbridgecollege.ca/COVID-19.