Using video-conferencing in a blended learning environment

Olds College’s Continuing Education Department successfully delivered a groundbreaking horticulture program to three First Nations bands using the video conferencing capabilities of the Community Learning Campus’ Bell e-Learning Centre.

By using video conferencing and other technologies to provide a blended learning opportunity through distance delivery, Peter Johnston-Berresford and Olds College are our latest Champions of Technology.

For more information on the program they offered please read the following Olds College Media Release:

Harnessing the video conferencing capabilities of the Community Learning Campus’ Bell e-Learning Centre, Olds College’s Continuing Education Department successfully delivered a groundbreaking horticulture program to three First Nations bands this fall.

Beginning in early April, Peter Johnston-Berresford and key horticulture staff from the School of Environment began working on specialized training for the Paul, Ermineskin Cree and Alexis Nakota Sioux First Nation Band to support Organic Greenhouse and Field Fruit and Vegetable Production ventures they were embarking on. Specifically, introductory training was needed for band members working in the production operation. Training began in June and wrapped up in early September.

“At the time of the course each site had a single high tunnel greenhouse set up with a small field plot growing various crops and they were erecting 10 additional high tunnels,” says Johnson-Beresford, Olds College Co-ordinator, Production Horticulture Programs and Greenhouse Manager for the School of Environment. “The course was instructed from a video-conferencing classroom with the three bands ands attending via video conference from each of their 3 sites.”

Teaching 60 students in total, Johnston-Berresford varied training days from two to four days per week with the students working in the greenhouse/field the non training days of the week. The total course comprised 23 full days (6 hours per day) of training with 21 by video conference and 2 hands-on lab days at Olds College. In the process, the School of Environment donated 40 boxes of agriculture and horticulture textbooks valued in the thousands of dollars.

On two of Video-conference training days Johnston-Berresford instructed while on holidays from the Akwasasne Reserve in Ontario using their classroom and connecting with the three sites in Alberta as well as Olds College’s. Johnston-Berresford, acting as lead instructor, was supported with additional instruction from Ken Fry (OFFICIAL TITLE) and Chris Fulkerth (OFFICIAL TITLE).

All students received written course material plus digital versions of the course material, additional resources and an extensive list of relevant resources on the internet. Feedback from both the students and the three bands was very positive.

“We are currently discussing possible additional training in the future,” says Johnston-Berresford. “I’m hoping to visit the bands in the future, possibly with some second-year students, and keep the channels between the First nations Bands and Olds College wide open.”

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