Bringing “in class” online
A lot has changed since mid-March.
In response to COVID-19, SAIT had to rethink program delivery to help prevent the spread. How could our applied, hands-on education model translate to a digital experience for students?
Instructors across all programs rose to the challenge, finding unique ways to bring the in-class experience online.
Step inside our digital classrooms for a look at a new way of learning.
Building skills for the future
For School of Business instructor Jaci Lyndon, moving classes online meant adapting a lesson for her Business Leadership class.
As one of this year’s Cisco e-Learning Chairs and having researched best practices in both experiential learning and e-learning, Lyndon worked with an app company to create an at-home competition inspired by the Amazing Race.
Using the app and breakout rooms in Zoom, teams of Business Administration students worked together to complete challenges while developing leadership skills in communication, conflict management, influencing and decision making.
It also allowed students to see what’s possible using digital tools — a skill essential to the future workforce.
“The pandemic has blown this style of learning and working wide open,” says Lyndon. “It’s great if we can expose students to that while they’re at SAIT.”
Lyndon is most proud of her students’ willingness to try new things in the face of uncertainty.
“They know that I’m doing new things too, and that we’re in it together.”
Fostering community, even when apart
While employees and students in Calgary prepared for a transition to online delivery, SAIT instructors on the other side of the world were making plans of their own.
Retail Management Instructor Leanne Walper and Logistics Management Instructor Monica Rovers — both of whom teach SAIT-developed curriculum at the United Arab Emirates’ Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) in Dubai — signed up for more than 20 professional development courses in online instruction to ensure they were equipped to offer an engaging digital experience.
“I think of myself as being the students’ online DJ,” says Walper. “I have to plan for every moment, know what’s coming next and use the tools available to help students get in their learning groove.”
Bolstered by their new technical knowledge, Walper and Rovers set their sights on maintaining a sense of community within classes. Starting each lesson with a video greeting, exchanging personal goals and anecdotes, and sharing photos of when the students were all together has helped foster connectedness and positivity in an otherwise challenging time.
Rovers, who has moved back to Calgary but is still teaching her students remotely, shares photos of sunrises and snowfalls to kick off her 6 am classes (4 pm in Dubai).
“Though we are on opposite sides of the world, we are closely connected with the help of technology,” says Rovers.
She also notes an unexpected benefit of online learning.
“Some of the quieter students in the physical class are participating more online — perhaps because they have time to think and respond in writing.”
Hands-on done differently
For many programs at SAIT, learning is doing. So how does it work when students no longer have access to industrial labs, kitchens or equipment to practice their craft?
For Radio, Television and Broadcast News student Brody Langager, it came down to the ingenuity of faculty. Instructors Laura Knop-Wright, Lisa MacDonald, Richard Stroobant and Shane McQueen found accessible tech solutions for projects, helping Langager and his classmates master the techniques they’ll need in their field.
“We’re using our phones to get the news footage we need and Open Broadcaster Software and Microsoft Teams for interviews,” says Langager.
NewsFile — the weekly news, sports, weather and features program produced by second year students — is also carrying on despite physical distancing, with students contributing content remotely.
In a tasty twist, Baking and Pastry Arts Instructor Victoria German is using YouTube to teach the intricacies of cake decorating for her Wedding Cakes course.
Students can tune in and follow along step by step to create beautiful decorative flowers.
Take the next step
Despite what’s happening in the world, don’t press the pause button on your career. Take the plunge and explore all the options available to you here at SAIT — enroll now for the spring and fall semesters.
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