School of Sport and Recreation
In 2012, the School of Sports and Recreation at Canadore College, with campuses in North Bay and Parry Sound, was featured in a Pocket of Innovation that described how students were offered three options for taking their classes:
- In a face-to-face classroom;
- As live, web-based audioconferences; or
- Through viewing the recorded lectures anywhere and anytime that fit within the schedule for submitting assignments.
Each course was supplemented with resources, communication options, and links to further materials. Students were able to choose from week-to-week whether to attend class face-to-face or over the web, synchronously or asynchronously.
In 2012, each class featured an audio lecture supplemented with PowerPoint slides, and possible integration of YouTube links, interactive whiteboard, case studies and text chat. Testing for in-class and online learners was consistent and both groups had access to their choice of approved options. The tests were available on the Canadore learning management system (LMS), iLearn; students had five days to complete and submit them. Students could also take the test in class.
Revisiting the School of Sports and Recreation in 2014 provided an opportunity to look at the revisions and additions to the course delivery model, and to consider the advantages and challenges of this approach from the point of view of both students and professors.
The School of Sports and Recreation has over 350 students in its four programs, with more than 100 attending online, whether full- or part-time. Recreation and Leisure, Recreation and Therapy, and Strength and Sports Conditioning are diploma programs, with the first two available completely online or in-class and the third in-class or blended, requiring on-campus attendance for about 25% of class time for essential hands-on training and experience.
EcoToursim is a one-year certificate program available in-class and/or online. The lectures are delivered using the distance education platforms provided by Contact North | Contact Nord; the resources, assignments, and other materials are provided online through the LMS.
The courses maintain their optional delivery – with the three choices available to students who can choose any mode for any class. Classes are now offered using video in addition to the previous audio delivery. The students can see the professor and students can be seen in small icons as well. Icons are also available that allow students to ask questions, register agreement and disagreement with statements and questions, and even offer smile faces. All resources and assignments continue to be available online for all students.
Among the enhanced features of the course delivery model in 2014, professors can now turn control of the class over to students, who can offer short lectures and slides. Text chatting is available to all online participants. Guest lecturers can be integrated into courses, making presentations from their offices. Online e-portfolios are available for students to store notes and assignments.
Outcomes and Benefits
The programs have attracted students from across Canada and around the world, benefitting from the option of synchronous or asynchronous attendance made possible through Contact North | Contact Nord’s distance education platforms. Dave de Jourdan, Program Coordinator in the School of Sports and Recreation, commented on the richer learning environment created through intercultural exchange, an unintended consequence of the online delivery.
The objective of offering online learning was to extend access, allowing more students to participate. The success in reaching out nationally and internationally indicates new possibilities for a small college. For example, several students went on a seven-week exchange program in China and were able to follow their course from there.
Many of the students take the courses on an online, part-time basis and work in related fields, but have no formal qualifications. The flexible delivery allows them to continue working while earning credentials.
Professor de Jourdan emphasized how students comment on the quality technical support offered by Contact North | Contact Nord, providing quick and effective service.
Students have become more involved in the teaching, as they do online searches to respond to questions raised. Professor de Jourdan describes the possibilities offered through online teaching as “changing the face of teaching to be more transparent and accountable”, with greater student involvement and flexibility.
Online marking allows for larger classes and provides students with instant results. They get a week in which to register to complete a timed, online quiz. At the end of the week, students can look at their results and see their errors.
Challenges and Enhancements
With the availability of the recorded lectures, it is possible for students to take courses, and complete programs, without participating in a live event – whether online or in-class. Mandatory workshops, which can be attended on campus or online, were introduced to help students feel like they are part of the college to a greater degree and part of a community of learners. These workshops have very flexible timing – available to students in the morning, afternoon, or evening. The students are organized into discussion groups so every student now has the opportunity to talk with classmates. The response to this innovation has been positive, especially from the online students.
The faculty are challenged in keeping up-to-date with the technology. They are often forced to step out of their comfort zones, as Professor de Jourdan says “that is where the students are”. In his words, “this is a healthy shift as people re-evaluate how they teach and are no longer the custodians of knowledge – they are facilitators who stimulate thought and the application of knowledge.”
A further innovation being discussed is the involvement of experts from around the world in delivering courses or specialized lectures.
For Further Information
Dave de Jourdan
School of Sport and Recreation