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[Institutional Report] Northwest Community College

Contributed by David Try, Northwest Community College
Up here in the wilds of Canada’s north, a few of us decided that we were professionally and personally interested in extending the physical classroom(s) out to all NWCC campuses, as well as, individual offices and homes (i.e. Telegraph Creek).  Kind of like having your first child, ignorance is so bliss!!
Rather than competing in a ever-increasing online PSE world, we decided that live instruction, first using video conferencing then internet broadcast, would enable us to deliver PSE within our full catchment area, the entire north west corner of BC, including Haida Gwaii. As well, in considering any ‘pure’ online model, realistically, NWCC would need to consider that many other BC (and Canadian) PSE institutions have mature online courses and rich internal support infrastructures and staff resources –  instructional developers, Wiki specialists, etc – that NWCC simply does not have.
Using Adobe Connect, (with thanks to BC Campus), NWCC has been broadcasting weekly ‘live’ lectures.   Students choose between attending classes visa their computer / internet during which they can interact with instructors via chat windows or the computer’s microphone.  As I ‘broadcast’ the course from Terrace, students can also attend ‘Face-to-Face’ (F2F).  Lectures are recorded for students unable to attend at the schedule time.
Each course makes extensive use of D2L (NWCC’s LMS), for weekly quizzes, discussion / blogs / forums, submitting assignments, and including a virtual space for conducting certain group work.
It seems to be working!  Remote students are taking courses and succeeding.
Next year we’ll expand the business online presence (my program area) by a couple more courses (our planned course offerings are on BC Connect) and are planning on switching to VIDYEO as our broadcast software, replacing Adobe Connect.
We’ve sure got a long way to go, but as both a rural and northern college, many of us see this as a critical element in remaining relevant and competitive within the PSE sphere.