Online learning to be ‘big part’ of college business

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to more online work and e-learning due to lockdowns, but that online work and e-learning culture remains after COVID restrictions have been lifted.

Colin Kirkwood, Sault College vice president of operations, noted the trend while delivering the college’s 2021-22 annual report to the institution’s board of governors at its meeting held Thursday evening.

Sault College began beefing up its e-learning courses and programs in 2017, the pandemic dramatically increasing online learning.

“In the past five years there’s been tremendous growth in e-learning. I can’t say that we predicted it but in the pandemic a lot of people were displaced from their jobs and we were positioned very well to help those individuals get retrained in a very short time frame, right around that same time the government came out with what’s called microcredentials.”

Kirkwood said there are over 30,000 registrations in Sault College microcredential courses.

“It’s not big business for us but certainly in the future there is anticipation that this type of short duration training will become a bigger part of our business,” Kirkwood said.  

In keeping with that new trend, the Sault College board of governors approved two new Ontario College Graduate Certificate programs Thursday, aimed at teaching students how to design and deliver online courses and programs and give them the technical skills they need to present them.

The board approved:

  • E Learning Training and Development (one year)
  • E Learning Design and Development (two years)

The one-year program – a base year – will serve the interests of Canadian students with an optional third semester that will consist of a co-op placement.

The addition of a second year to the graduate certificate program is to retain international students and boost their chances of success in the Canadian labour force.

The second year will include a Canadian context, including items such as Canadian law – spread over the two years of the program.

The second year will also include a full-semester work placement. 

“It is a requirement that we bring in the Canadian context and that’s the 30 per cent Canadian content and context threaded throughout the program,” said Jennifer Mosley, Sault College E Learning program manager, addressing the board.

“The rationale for these programs is evident. We’re seeing more businesses wanting to deliver more online training experiences more so than face to face delivery. As such, businesses are needing experts who have the skill sets and knowledge of an instructional designer as well as an e-learning developer with a vast set of technical skills.”

The board also approved a two year Project Management Canadian Context program.

Graduates in that program will be trained for careers as project analysts, coordinators, leaders, managers, officers and schedule analysts

There are 4,040 active Project Manager job postings in Ontario.

Of those postings, 2,691 are for full-time employment.

There are five active Project Manager job postings within 100 kilometres of Sault Ste. Marie.

It is projected that through 2027, the global project management-oriented labour force is expected to grow by 22 million new jobs.

As of May 2022, it is estimated that there are 59,000 jobs available for those with program management training in the fields of human resources, education, employment and skills development, hospitals and health care, government agencies and for profit and not for profit agencies.  

“The beauty of these programs is that students will be introduced to two fascinating industries,” Mosley said.

Also included in Kirkwood’s report was another major milestone for the college.

“We’re very pleased we received approval for our Bachelor of Science in Nursing program from the government in March 2022. We’ll have our first cohort of Sault College Bachelor of Science in Nursing students coming into the college in the fall of 2022. It’s the first true degree program that Sault College has had,” Kirkwood said.