Contributed by Brent McIntosh and Terri Bateman, North Island College
Who we are:
Terri Bateman Blackboard support and Instructional Design
Brent McIntosh Faculty Distributed Learning Facilitator
North Island College (NIC) has roughly 2600 students enrolled in credit courses and a large and growing School of Continuing Education. We have four campuses in: Port Hardy, Campbell River, the Comox Valley and Port Alberni and a Learning Centre in Ucluelet. We also offer programming in-community at locations from Ahousaht to Bella Coola. Recently, we have had a number of changes in senior leadership. We have a new president and the academic and student services deanships have been combined into one office.
Given our geography and dispersed population, distance learning has always played a large role at NIC. We offer Interactive Television classes between physical locations. We use Blackboard Learn as our LMS to provide Distance and Blended opportunities to local students and those in more remote locations. We have recently added the Content and Community Module to BB Learn to allow, among other things, the easy creation of student e-portfolios. We are also experimenting with the Lync 2013 video conference system. At the moment we haven’t used Lync for much more than a few meetings and some faculty development workshops, but we see considerable promise in the system.
Like every other institution in public post-secondary in BC we are operating under serious budget restraint. Our new projects tend to be patched together from one-time-only funding, although we have been able to put together good distance experiences for students. Our biggest challenge, along with an aging demographic, is in providing cost effective training and educational opportunities in our smaller communities.