“Learning” has always been a core service for the NVision team, from design and delivery of workshops and academic courses to specialized facilitation and coaching projects. We’re most excited about an exciting new approach to learning, and its application in rural and remote communities right across Canada. Through our online learning platform, we can deliver learning events and programs effectively and inexpensively to regions of Canada where cost, weather, or distance have made conventional training unaffordable. It’s sometimes knows as “e-learning”; the “e” stands for electronic, effective, essential, everywhere, everyday and engaging (just to name a few!)
So What IS “Online learning”?
Online learning turns your computer into a classroom, and lets you learn at work, at home, with colleagues – without having to leave your community. Courses can last an hour or a month. While each course is different, designed to meet the needs of specific learners, most have a few things in common.
- Participants work at their own speed, on their own schedule, at the time and place that works best for them.
- The full group of learners meets online once or twice every week to discuss the course content, hear special presentations, and work on special assignments.
- All the usual elements of a course – the manual, assignments, tests, quizzes, and even a final exam, are completed online.
- An instructor and a technical support person are available to help participants before and during the course.
Our Greatest Hit
Our online courses have included everything from training for Boards of Directors to technical instruction on how to set up a community radio station. Our biggest project to date has been the design, adaptation and delivery of more than forty credit courses for Nunavut’s Municipal Training Organization, in partnership with Nunavut Arctic College.
The challenge was huge. Our virtual classroom consisted of twenty-five isolated communities in three different time zones across Nunavut. The range of topics to be covered was enormous – from high-level management of human resources, budgeting and business communication, right down to the technical side of surveying lots. And of course, some of the courses were to be delivered in Inuktitut. These are exactly the challenges that make online learning such an effective alternative to regular classroom-based teaching.
We began with an initial pilot project, adapting five core courses with proven content and redesigning them for online delivery, augmenting the technical and training expertise of our team with best practices in online learning from around the world.
Response was overwhelmingly positive. Participants loved the flexibility and the opportunity to complete courses and earn credits without leaving their communities; our facilitators were able to create real, vibrant communities of learners; and our clients were able to reach a wider group of learners at a fraction of the cost. The initiative has been so successful that online learning has over the last two years, become our client’s preferred method for delivering professional development.
Building on that experience, we adapted another 30 courses, and continue to provide them to learners in hamlets across the north, using trained subject matter experts as instructors, and introducing new techniques with each delivery. Courses are now supported by downloadable podcasts; a dedicated YouTube channel; online forums and chat areas for group assignments, problem solving, and discussions; and a special introductory course in online learning, available to all participants.
The Bottom Line
This project illustrates our approach to online learning; the incorporation of best practices in adult learning, the use of breakthrough technology, reliance on leading subject matter experts, and joyful creativity. Our goal is to create exceptional online learning experiences. But the final judge of our success, of course, is the learner. So let’s give the final word to one of our program participants, whose feedback on the experience says it all.