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Olds College decides how classes will resume

Either way, quality of instruction will be high: OC president
mvt Stuart Cullum-3
Olds College president Stuart Cullum says starting this fall, programming at Olds College will be a mixture of online and in-person instruction "with proper social distancing," depending on the program. Doug Collie/MVP Staff

OLDS — In order to protect students and staff from COVID-19, some Olds College courses will be held online and in-person this fall, president Stuart Cullum says.

“We’re going to offer our programming in a variety of formats,” he said during an interview.

Cullum said some programming will be delivered largely online, with some components delivered face-to-face on campus “with proper social distancing" and “various parameters in place.”

Other programs will be delivered face-to-face, also with proper protocols in place.

“We’ve reviewed it on a program-by-program basis and based on that work that’s happened with our deans and our faculty, we’ve determined which programs sort of fit within which one of those modes,” Cullum said.

“And of course our hope is that — our plan is — that we’ll be back face-to-face on all programs in January, but we’re confident that the way in which we will be delivering programming in the fall will still be strong.

“It’ll be different and we look forward to having all of our students back in the spring time.”

Cullum said administrative staff and faculty members undertook an exhaustive review of each program to make sure they got it right.

“Every single program went through an evaluation because we recognized we just couldn’t do a carte blanche sort of thing; we needed to really look at each program, dependent on their needs, and that’s how we came to those decisions,” he said.

Over the past few months, several students in North America have complained that online programming deprives them of the college experience, including being in the classroom and socializing with fellow students on campus.

Cullum didn’t buy that thought.

“It’s different, no doubt. But I mean, the learning experience will be strong,” he said. “There still will be engagement with our faculty. There still will be lots of different ways in which they will generate that college experience.

“We recognize that it will be different, but it will still be good. And it’ll be good learning, quality learning, and they’ll achieve what they’re here to achieve, which is ultimately, you know, credentialing.”

During a funding announcement at Olds College on July 10, Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides praised facility staff for the work they’ve done to figure out how to make college education work in an era of COVID-19.

“I want to take a moment to recognize and thank and provide my heartfelt appreciation to board chair Leona Staples, all faculty and all students and all members of staff and administration for the incredible job that you have done in responding to the pandemic and moving your programming online and helping to ensure our students are able to complete their programs with very limited interruption,” said Nicolaides.