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College of the Rockies to continue virtual classes during winter semester

A full slate of programs are offered online, blended with face to face learning
With classrooms equipped with specialty broadcast equipment, College of the Rockies faculty members like Kevil Szol, Electrician instructor, are able to create virtual classrooms for their students. (COTR file)

For The Townsman

College of the Rockies has announced their plans for the winter semester, which the college says will look similar to the current semester in terms of online and face to face learning.

Most programs will be delivered through online classes, said COTR in a press release. On-campus learning and face to face classes will continue for programs that require hands-on-learning, delivered under enhanced health and safety protocols as directed by the Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry.

“Our focus remains on ensuring students get the education they need to prepare for their futures, while keeping their health and safety, along with that of our employees, as our priority,” said Paul Vogt, College of the Rockies President and CEO. “This means most students will complete their courses online, with some on-campus learning for programs like health, trades and science labs. Any on-campus classes will take part in small groups, with physical distancing and other public health guidelines in place.”

All of the college’s campuses are open for the winter semester and will continue to operate differently, says the school. Students have access to the library, campus store, enrolment services, some computer labs and quiet study. The gym and weight room will also be available in order to support student health and wellbeing. Services like academic advising and counselling are being delivered virtually.

Masks are recommended for anyone on campus when in common areas and when physical distancing is not possible.

During the current fall semester, 40 per cent of students took part in either face to face or blended face to face and online learning. The college anticipates a similar look for the upcoming semester.

“The College offered its first online course in 1997 and since that time has offered hundreds of classes, and even full programs, online,” said Vogt. “Our faculty are well-prepared to meet the learning needs of our students. In fact, we’ve been getting some wonderful feedback from students this semester.”

Pre-Education student Jillian Newfield voiced her relief at being able to learn while staying safely at home and showed her appreciation for the efforts of her instructors through an email.

“It is evident that the instructors have carefully thought about the students,” she said. “It feels learner-centred. Furthermore, the instructors are using technological platforms to connect with us and to encourage connections between students in learning groups. The online lectures are activity driven and very engaging.”

Gaelle Stadler had hoped to travel from her home in Switzerland for the Adventure Tourism Business Operations program at the College’s Golden campus this fall but had her travel plans put on hold due to the pandemic. Able to take the academic courses online, she was still concerned about missing out on the experiential learning her fellow students were taking part in. Her instructor remedied the situation by providing Gaelle with access to videos and photos from field trips to use as learning tools for assignments.

“He helped me understand the course in a great way, and made me feel part of it,” she said. “Thanks to this instructor, who went through some trouble to make it possible for me to take part in his outdoor classes, I still got to appreciate the Rocky Mountains’ beautiful nature.”