UPEI, Holland College accelerate online teaching in wake of COVID-19

UPEI and Holland College are working to get more classes online so students can continue their education while at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both schools already offer classes online, and were looking to expand in that direction, but COVID-19 has forced them to speed up their plans.

"We thought we were a step and a half ahead of the curve, turns out the virus caught up to us and surpassed us, so now we're kind of running behind a bit," said Holland College president Sandy MacDonald.

"We knew our business model had to change regardless, and the virus has just accelerated that process."

MacDonald said they are trying to ensure students can learn key competencies that will make them successful in the workforce. He said courses that are driven by skills competency will be the hardest to deliver online.

University of Prince Edward Island

"It'll probably be our trades and technology area and a couple of our health programs that will be the most challenging."

'Have some patience'

In a news release issued Tuesday, the province said Premier Dennis King and UPEI president Alaa Abd-El-Aziz have spoken about the impacts COVID-19 has had on the university community, and that Abd-El-Aziz said the university will be flexible with students to ensure their needs are met.

UPEI librarian Donald Moses said online learning will be familiar to many students and faculty. Almost half of the 200 or so online courses the university is offering this summer were already available online, he said.

You shouldn't see too much of a deterioration in the interaction between instructors and students' — Sandy MacDonald, Holland College

"This is nothing new," he said in an interview with CBC's Island Morning.

"We've been moving resources online for years now, so we would have 300,000-plus ebooks available, thousands and thousands of journals would be available online. We'd have over 50,000 streaming media resources."

Brian McInnis

MacDonald said Holland College has been making sure its instructors have the proper technology and internet bandwidth to deliver the courses online and ensure the professors are accessible to the students.

"You shouldn't see too much of a deterioration in the interaction between instructors and students," he said.

He said it won't be perfect, at least in the beginning, but is asking students to "have some patience, be clear and put forth any problems you might have as quickly as you can so we can address them as quickly as we can."

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