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Funding boosts the virtual classroom

By: Heidi Ulrichsen - Sudbury Northern Life

 | Dec 18, 2013 - 3:00 PM |
The city's post-secondary institutions received $2.4 million in funding from the province Dec. 18 to boost the virtual classroom. From left are Collège Boréal president Pierre Riopel, Cambrian College interim president Sonia Del Missier, Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci and Laurentian University vice-president Robert Kerr. Photo by Heidi Ulrichsen.

The city's post-secondary institutions received $2.4 million in funding from the province Dec. 18 to boost the virtual classroom. From left are Collège Boréal president Pierre Riopel, Cambrian College interim president Sonia Del Missier, Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci and Laurentian University vice-president Robert Kerr. Photo by Heidi Ulrichsen.

$2.4M for local post-secondary institutions

The virtual classroom at local post-secondary institutions is receiving a boost from more than $2.4 million in grants from the province.

The funding, which was announced at a Dec. 18 press conference at Cambrian College's eDome, includes about $1.5 million from the Productivity and Innovation Fund.

This money will be shared amongst Cambrian College ($421,000), Laurentian University ($477,350), the Northern Ontario School of Medicine ($142,000) and Collège Boréal ($500,000).

Cambrian will also receive $909,000 from the College Financial Health and Sustainability Grant.

Sonia Del Missier, interim president at Cambrian College, said some of the funds will go towards “back-end” technology to improve its curriculum development and review software.

It'll also go towards improving classrooms technology to allow students to attend classes virtually over the Internet.

“We do know if we want to increase access, we really need to expand our whole virtual delivery capacity, just to reach out to people who for whatever reason can't make it to campus,” Del Missier said.

Boréal president Pierre Riopel said its chunk of the funds will also go towards improving technology for those who cannot attend classes in person.

“Just in terms of technology, there's so many different ways of learning, and also making post-secondary education accessible,” he said.

“We have some students who are in very small and isolated communities. If we're able to use the Internet or webinars to allow accessibility, that would be one element.

“We're really looking at flex learning, or different ways of training people. It doesn't have to be a very traditional and conventional teaching method.”

Laurentian vice-president and provost Robert Kerr said the university will use the money to upgrade the Internet platform it uses to make classroom materials accessible to students.

He said the software has applications such as online chatrooms so students can interact with peers and their professor about course work. Laurentian will also use some of the money to train employees on using the software upgrades, Kerr said.

“I think it's fantastic,” Kerr said. “It's always the challenge to find the funds to move forwards, because software, when you use it on this sort of scale, it's very expensive.”

The Northern Ontario School of Medicine did not have a representative on hand at the press conference to explain what it's doing with its share of the funds.

Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci, who made the funding announcement, said the investments demonstrate the province's commitment to transforming its higher education system.

“By enhancing the quality of the learning environment available to our students, we are helping them succeed, we are helping our post-secondary institutions to succeed, we are opening the door for prosperous careers and strengthening our province's economic advantage.”

@heidi_ulrichsen
Heidi Ulrichsen

Heidi Ulrichsen

Staff Writer

@heidi_ulrichsen

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