The Island's French language post-secondary college is working to make its content more accessible to students online, to better support distance learning in both rural parts of P.E.I. and areas of the world where students might not have reliable Internet access.
Collège de l'Île's plans for the fall require students to learn from home as much as possible, with in-person attendance restricted to programs that require hands-on learning.
Donald DesRoches, president of Collège de l'Île, says work has been underway since May to get course curriculum online so that it is available to students anytime.
"The idea is to reduce the amount of time that's actually the teacher teaching the content," said DesRoches, who said a new learning content management system has been implemented, in collaboration with college staff. This way, students won't be as dependent upon high-quality bandwidth to access course materials.
"There will be a lot of content on the website that the students will be able to have access to, to learn the content and ask questions of the teachers and of other students in the classroom. So the idea is to reduce the complications of the rural internet issue in Prince Edward Island and in the countries that we're recruiting from."
DesRoches said overall, enrolment at the college is up. About 100 students are registered this year, but due to the restrictions around physical distancing and the inability of some international students to come to Canada, they are expecting about 40 to start in September — compared to 30 last fall.
Enrolment growing, despite global health pandemic
"This year had the highest number of international recruits in the history of college, at around 80 in the spring," said DesRoches.
Many of the students are coming from Cameroon and Morocco.
"Then we had COVID be declared and as a result, that's had significant impacts on the number of students that will be arriving in Charlottetown and Wellington, our two campuses."
Of the international students who have been accepted to Collège de l'Île, about half have decided to defer their studies for a year, and the rest are going to start their program remotely, with the goal of attending in person as soon as possible. At the latest, that would be in September of 2021, said DesRoches, which is why enhancing what's available online was vital.
Under new federal guidelines, international students are permitted to count up to 50 per cent of coursework done outside Canada toward the completion of their program at a Canadian post-secondary institution.
DesRoches said many of the college's orientation activities have been moved online as well, and the work that's been done in recent months to get curriculum materials online will mean that most coursework can continue in the event of a second wave of COVID-19.
More P.E.I. news