In light of Carleton University announcing its fall term will be conducted online, the Sprott School of Business is striving to ensure that students continue to receive the best possible education.

While this isn’t perhaps what most students expected for September, Sprott will continue to make the student experience its main priority in these changing times.

And, there are benefits to online learning that can’t be ignored.

“The main pro of online learning and the switch we’re making is the opportunity for flexibility,” David Hornsby, the associate vice-president of teaching and learning at Carleton University, said. “One of the things we’ve heard for many years now is that students desire a chance to engage with their learning in flexible ways.”

“Lots of students face all sorts of different challenges – they need to work, they have challenging home environments, or they have other demands on their time other than just going to university and attending classes.”

Picture of Shannon Butler

Shannon Butler has long been an advocate for online teaching and learning, and has been recognized for her innovation with a Professional Achievement Award and an Excellence in Teaching with Technology Award from Carleton University.

The faculty at Sprott are also eager to help students see the benefits in this shift and help them make the most of it.

“If people are hesitant feeling that they’re not going to get the same level of education, they will,” Shannon Butler, an accounting instructor at Sprott, said. “And, they will have more flexibility with it.”

“It’s a really good opportunity to allow students to learn at their own pace, to go over the content again and again, and not only have the one shot in class.”

Shannon has been an advocate for virtual teaching and learning – while incorporating it since she started teaching– from the time she completed her Master of Education by studying predominantly online. Shannon has been recognized for her teaching innovation with a 2018 Carleton University Professional Achievement Award and Carleton’s Excellence in Teaching with Technology Award in 2016.

“My education gave me the freedom to do the other things in my life that I needed to do, but still get a really good education. I didn’t feel like it was any less of an education than when I did my undergrad in person; it was almost more engaging because in the online environment you have so many different aspects rather than just meeting face-to-face.”

Picture of Robert Helal in front of his 'working from home' setup

Robert Helal, an award-winning instructor and an adjunct research professor at the Sprott School of Business, believes that students will gain invaluable skills as they make their way through the fall term online.

For Robert Helal, an award-winning instructor and adjunct research professor at Sprott, the main benefit is that students will grow more comfortable with working in the online world.

“You need to be able to do things online.”

He went on to explain that in the business world you can’t get by unless you’re comfortable with communicating online and that is something which can’t usually be taught in a classroom. “You learn by doing. You have to practice, and flex that muscle.”

“I liken it to The Karate Kid and the whole ‘wax on wax off’ concept,” he added. “You don’t necessarily know you’re learning something, until you have to apply it. Then you realize how much you’ve mastered it.”

“That only comes from doing it.”

Another soft skill he believes students are going to learn through this process and change is resilience.

“You have to be resilient and be able to balance with the change. That just makes you stronger. That’s life in the business world. It’s a soft skill that we tell you about but can’t show you. This situation is hands on – it’s the real deal.”

While Shannon and Robert had varying teaching styles for online classes this summer, they both received a positive reception from the students, which goes to show the range of methods and techniques that can work to engage and educate students in the online world.

Shannon recorded short videos of herself and provided students with all the course material online, and then set up two hours each week to interact with them all.

“To not lose out on that student/instructor relationship where we can interact with one another, I have an hour at the beginning of the week and an hour at the end of the week, as sort of touch points.”

She uses the start of the week to “cheer them on and get them going on the week” while the end serves as a recap.

Robert, on the other hand, opted for synchronous learning but instead of lecturing to them he made his classes rather interactive. He kept them involved, constantly asked questions and started discussions, and made sure they didn’t feel like they were watching TV.

Now they, like all faculty and instructors at Sprott, are heeding the lessons they learned from experience and are working with the school’s management team to prepare for the fall.

Thursday, June 11, 2020 in ,
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