Ontario invests in virtual learning at Loyalist College

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SUNDAY, MAY 30, 2021

Province provides increased access to online courses and retraining opportunities

BELLEVILLE – The Ontario government is investing $401,280 to support four innovative virtual learning projects at Loyalist College to help provide students with more choice and access to high-quality postsecondary education and retraining opportunities.

“These projects will help ensure our postsecondary institutions have the tools they need to create great curriculum online,” said Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte. “By increasing virtual course offerings, we’re helping the next generation of workers, innovators, researchers, and leaders develop the skills and training they need to succeed in their careers, when and where they need it most.”

The projects are part of the province’s Virtual Learning Strategy announced last December and  support key priority areas that include creating or adapting digital content, equipping faculty and students with skills and resources to teach and learn online and identifying educational technologies to enhance online courses and programs. Projects include:

  • A collaboration with Fleming College on the creation of an Ontario-specific, open resource on Early Childhood Education and Child Development Practitioner Apprenticeship. This project will make available Ontario practices and regulations for Ontario learners who will become registered early childhood educators and will create ancillary resources to support slide decks, learning activities, assessments and test banks to be used virtually, in-person, or hybrid.
  • The adaptation and creation of an Ontario-specific open resource on Human Resource Management. This project will update the current PressBooks versions to include Canadian contexts, including practices, rules and regulations for Ontario learners. Additionally, this project will create ancillary resources to support slide decks, learning activities, assessments, and test banks.
  • The adaptation of an open resource for use in existing asynchronous online courses focusing on Microsoft Access software, offered by Loyalist through OntarioLearn. The adaptations will coincide with wholesale course revisions to update content to the most current software version.  The adaptation will allow Loyalist to improve accessibility, content relevancy and overall experience while offering significant cost savings to students.
  • The creation of three net new positions within Loyalist’s Centre for the Advancement of Teaching & Learning (CATL) to increase its capacity to develop new digital by design learning opportunities. The positions include an instructional designer, a multimedia developer, and an open education strategist – all dedicated resources that do not currently exist at the CATL.  The positions will help Loyalist realize immediate goals to advance online course and program development and assist in building policy and processes for future enhancements.  This direction will help Loyalist advance an OER (Open Education Resources) strategy, rather than relying on paid textbooks and resources, ultimately benefiting students at Loyalist and across Ontario’s post-secondary education system.

“The Ontario government’s investment in virtual learning will empower Loyalist College to build capacity by supporting faculty who’ve made a dramatic change in program delivery this year,” said Dr. Ann Marie Vaughan, Loyalist College President and CEO. “Through these four projects, this generous funding will enable us to enhance our distance studies programs and hybrid offerings, which are in demand as more people migrate to the beautiful Bay of Quinte region from urban city centres. As a destination college, we’re bringing our vibrant in-class experiences online by incorporating industry cluster-based engagement, simulated applied learning, and meaningful one-to-one interactions.”

The province is investing more than $70 million to implement Ontario’s Virtual Learning Strategy, including $21.4 million announced in the 2021 Ontario Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy. 

“Ensuring that Ontario’s postsecondary institutions offer responsive and flexible digital courses and programs will help students build the skills and competencies they need to be competitive in today’s economy,” said Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “Our Virtual Learning Strategy is aimed at creating a platform that will allow all post-secondary institutions to compete in the new and necessary environment of learning from home.” 

The Ontario government is transforming virtual learning across the province by supporting nearly 400 innovative projects at colleges, universities and Indigenous Institutes.