July 16th, 2020
At Parkland College, we are preparing to deliver classes in the fall of 2020 through Blended Learning. We are coordinating with post-secondary institutions across Saskatchewan on this hybrid approach to education.
What is Blended Learning anyway?
Blended Learning refers to a mix of online instruction, face-to-face classes, experiential learning, and alternative delivery methods.
Online instruction may occur through a combination of synchronous (occurring at the same time) and asynchronous (not occurring at the same time) delivery methods. This may include scheduled video conferencing, live webcasts, and recorded lectures, modules, assignments, and other exercises accessible when it is convenient for you.
Face-to-face classes may be required for programs with substantial hands-on learning components which are not easily replicated in a virtual environment. In-person classes may also be scheduled if student enrollment and classroom sizes meet physical distancing requirements. As well, programs may be divided into cohorts with separate class schedules to allow students to attend face-to-face classes.
Experiential learning provides learners with opportunities to apply their knowledge and practice their skills in real-life situations, such as a clinical placement in a health care facility or work placement with a local company.
Alternative delivery methods, such as paper packages including instructions and assignments, may be considered where required.
How will this affect my program?
Each program will be affected differently, based on a number of factors:
- necessity of face-to-face instruction (e.g. hands-on labs and shop time required to complete a program);
- needs of students (e.g. lack of Internet access/unreliable connections off-campus);
- availability of space at our campuses;
- physical distancing guidelines and building capacity limits; and
- any other restrictions imposed by the government as the pandemic evolves.
Some programs are delivered online more easily than others. Program planning is underway, and specific guidelines will be communicated with students as the fall term approaches.
Why is the College using Blended Learning rather than all-online or exclusively face-to-face instruction?
Blended Learning gives us the flexibility to deliver programs while managing risks associated with COVID-19. Our top priority is to protect the health and safety of students and staff. In the event of a resurgence of the virus in our region or province, we will be better positioned to transition to online-only instruction. But we recognize that many of our programs contain a substantial amount of in-person and hands-on learning, so we want to ensure students receive the highest quality education possible given the current circumstances.
A second reason for moving to Blended Learning is that you will likely experience blended working environments in the workforce. Many organizations are highly digital and it is imperative that our graduates are comfortable with technology. Also, many employers support employee development by providing access to training which can be delivered in face-to-face, blended, or fully online modalities. It is important that you have the skills to learn in all of these environments.
A third reason is that employers typically desire graduates with practical work experience, which is gained through experiential learning. Parkland offers experiential learning opportunities in a number of programs and is working to expand this to other programs.
Parkland College will continue to adhere to public health guidelines as delivered by the Government of Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Officer. Again, our priority, at all levels of the education system, is the health and safety of students and staff. We are prepared to adjust our plan and timelines at any point as the pandemic evolves.