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Delivering your continued education

19 Aug 2015

By Tanya Balian

The options for acquiring knowledge and new skills have grown exponentially in recent years, largely due to technology. Students now enjoy tremendous choice in education and methods of learning.

If it has been a while since you have been a student, then choosing a course and method of study could be a significant challenge.

Sheridan’s faculty of Continuing and Professional Studies (FCAPS) courses are offered in multiple ways to benefit our diverse students. Some are On Campus while some are Online. And in some cases, they are offered On Campus and Online, so students have a choice.

An increasing number of courses are Blended, meaning they are partially On Campus and partially Online. Let’s explore all three to help clarify your options.


On Campus

Think back. Good or bad, you remember going to school. Your learning was likely influenced by the school, your fellow students and – most prominently – by your teachers.

“Education is continually evolving and being reimagined in a way that is meant to improve student experience,” says Michael Cassidy, Associate Dean, FCAPS. “The Khan Academy phenomenon, Salman Khan’s book ‘The One World School House: Education Reimagined and the research of prominent thought leaders on methods of education, have influenced education as a whole, regardless of where the learning happens – online or in the traditional classroom setting.”

On Campus courses at FCAPS usually run weekly for 12 to 14 sessions at the Trafalgar Campus in Oakville, the Hazel McCallion Campus in Mississauga and the Davis Campus in Brampton, Ontario. Although time management is a challenge for the many FCAPS students who work, have a family, or both – On Campus remains the most popular method of study. During the fall 2014, winter 2015 and spring 2015 terms, 62% of FCAPS enrolment was On Campus.

“I like knowing that my Mondays are booked and I can put that time aside for learning. Trying to find the time at home and motivate myself to study online, without other people to interact with, is not what I’m looking for right now. I look forward to heading out and going to class,” says Mary Poverelli, FCAPS Student.

 

Blended

Blended learning leverages two methods of study by combining on campus and online learning – essentially a hybrid of two common methods of educational delivery. This newer course delivery method is commonly called Blended or Hybrid.

The number of students taking advantage of the Blended method of study is low compared to Online and On Campus, which account for almost 99% of the enrolment in FCAPS. 

“We receive a lot of calls and emails about Blended and how it works. As soon as we explain what it is, students understand the benefits and how it can help them balance life and learning,” says Cheryl Snyder, Associate Dean, Operations and Data Management, FCAPS.

Students learn online through self-paced assignments due by a certain date, and then they meet with fellow students on campus – in person or through web video conferencing – to participate in discussions, forums and additional learning activities.

Blended courses combine multiple delivery methods. At Sheridan, this means that students participate in face-to-face on campus classes with an instructor and other students for part of the course. Other portions of the course involve students logging onto Sheridan’s Learning Management System, called SLATE, to access learning resources including online video, reading material, quizzes, self-assessments, assignments and online collaboration.

“There’s a shift in education to improve the student experience and create opportunities to learn more through interaction,” says Blair Kettle, Manager of Learning Solutions, Design and Development, FCAPS. “We’re on a path that will offer students an experience and learning that’s as equally rich through online delivery as it would be in classroom delivery.”

 

New Blends

“We offer 44 Blended courses and as we launch more, the impact on enrolment will be evident. Most of our new Blended courses fill up quickly and are growing in popularity,” says Snyder.

Six of the required courses in the new Accounting Practitioner Certificate are only offered in Blended format, including Accounting Theory and Practice 1.

"We’ve committed to making the Accounting Practitioner program highly interactive. We’ve weaved in a simulation-based company that we introduce at the beginning of the program through a series of videos. Students get to interact ‘in role’ with AVC, start developing their soft skills and understand what their role is in the overall business,” says Janice Hanna, Program Manager, Finance and Accounting, FCAPS.

Watch the video about the new Accounting Practitioner Certificate.

 

On Campus programs that have proven to be popular are gradually transitioning to the new Blended method of delivery.

“We are moving away from traditional classes for our Business Analysis courses, to classes without lectures. Our students will learn on their own and then come to class to participate in simulation, role play and case studies,” says Navpreet Singh, Program Manager, Business Management, FCAPS.

Due to the popularity of the program and the student requests for learning options, Singh says that many of the courses in the Business Analysis program like Software Testing and Business Case Development, are offered in all three methods of delivery – On Campus, Online and Blended.  

Explore all of the Blended courses offered by FCAPS.

 

Flipped

Sheridan is also beginning to use an instructional strategy called Flipped Classroom or Flipped Learning. It is used in On Campus, Online and Blended approaches to course delivery. In the Flipped Classroom, the traditional teacher-centric educational arrangement is reversed, by delivering instructional content outside the classroom.

“New concepts and tools are experienced at home such as video tutorials. You consume them on your own and then come to class for clarification. You come together in the classroom to validate and enact your learning,” says Kettle.

In the Flipped Classroom, activities like homework are moved from home – to the classroom – in order to provide an opportunity for guidance and extra help from the instructor. 

“This instructional strategy is using the instructor’s time for higher value than presenting material.” Kettle adds “through the Flipped Classroom we’re providing an opportunity for constructive feedback and trying to actualize theory and practice.”

The concept of the Flipped Classroom may sound familiar. It is akin to a Law student reading up on relevant court cases, or an English student reading a novel on their own time – before the scheduled lecture on that topic. With that analogy in mind, you can imagine how the Flipped learning strategy is already used in classrooms.

 

Online

With Online or E-Learning, students can study at the most suitable time for them. They can keep their flexibility and effectively balance family, full-time work and other responsibilities.

“I usually do my online course after I’ve put the kids to bed. The house is quiet and I can really concentrate on learning and having some ‘me’ time,” says Joff Wong, FCAPS student.

Some FCAPS students only take courses online. “I took HR Administration because it was very convenient. I wasn’t confined to a classroom. You know three hours is a long time,” shares Alyssa Bellisario, FCAPS Student.

“The best part of online classes are the online discussions. With a screen in front of me, I feel more safe and comfortable to voice my opinion. If I was in class I would be a lot quieter because there’s not as much time to think and collect my thoughts. I don’t have to worry about hearing the tone of my voice or being judged,” she shares.

Technology has enabled new types of learning and improved learning options for students, breaking down geographic, financial and personal barriers.

“Some people view online learning as a lesser educational experience instructional learning than in class, but it is not the case,” says Kettle. “Online learning has improved at both the student experience and student learning levels. Students want concrete, real world knowledge they can apply immediately in the workplace. That can be provided in any modality, whether in class or online. We just need to consider the technology, approach or medium when we are creating our courses.”

Regardless of delivery mode, education in North America has moved towards enriching the understanding of ideas and focusing on the development of soft skills ­– creativity, leadership and problem solving – which require critical thinking skills.

“We want to move the pendulum to a place where the instructor’s time is to engage students and stimulate their critical thinking. To enable students to take the knowledge they’ve acquired from an article or video and apply it. The students should leave classes being able to do something – rather than just know something,” says Kettle.

 

Next Steps

When you have not been in school for a while, it can be challenging to decide which path and method of study will help you learn – and help you become more successful – without too much disruption to your work and family life.

The FCAPS staff are available to answer questions about courses, programs, and methods of learning. Feel free to contact our staff in person, by phone or email.