Friday, March 20, 2020
NSCAD and universities worldwide are quickly revising their education plans and delivery methods to respond to the spread of the COVID 19 pandemic. Canadian universities are following federal and provincial public health guidelines for these revisions with a focus on the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and the broader community.
No one could have imagined the sudden and critical need for social distancing and how disruptive and unsettling it would be for our students. Despite the many challenges, we are pleased to say that all classes in the Winter 2020 semester are now resumed and faculty have engaged students on how their course will proceed.
Online or e-learning is an excellent learning platform, used by three-quarters of Canadian universities for the past ten years. E-learning is growing globally, and has been demonstrated to offer substantial benefits – not only in terms of flexibility, convenience and access, but also in achieving learning outcomes and allowing for social and experiential learning.
NSCAD’s Centre for Teaching and Learning provides technology-enabled instruction support to our faculty and has been working intensively with them to transition all NSCAD courses to remote delivery methods.
Our incoming Dean, Martine Durier-Copp, is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC )-supported researcher in digital learning, and has 20 years of experience in online delivery. She has been working with the Centre for Teaching and Learning, as well as with individual faculty members, to design highly-effective remote delivery approaches, which will allow our students to successfully complete their academic terms.
We recognize that aspects of courses requiring practical applications cannot be completely delivered through an online platform and, in this respect, faculty members are working with their students to find optimal, practical solutions.
We look forward to the continuation of our term through this advanced and effective delivery model to enable NSCAD students to successfully continue their studies.
Beyond academic needs, we’re also working with the Students’ Union (SUNCAD) to provide assistance to students facing food insecurity, and we are helping those whose housing situation is affected by the crisis through the support of our community here in Nova Scotia.
We also encourage all NSCAD students to take advantage of the technology available to them in charting their remote learning experience. A tool often utilized by faculty and staff at the university is Microsoft Teams, which streamlines the process for organizing online group meetings, discussions, and document storage. These tools could prove quite beneficial for students during this time.
Simple instructions for installing the Teams App and joining a Teams Meeting have been provided by NSCAD staff at https://services.nscad.ca/teams.html and https://services.nscad.ca/create-meeting.html.
At every opportunity, NSCAD students’ resilience is on display throughout this period of uncertainty. Their concern for each another and the community is the cornerstone of the empathy needed to succeed in arts, craft and design. It’s also helping all of us get through this challenging situation.
Dr. Aoife Mac Namara
Dr. Ann-Barbara Graff
Vice-President (Academic and Research)