PETERBOROUGH – The Ontario government is transforming virtual learning across the province by supporting nearly 400 innovative projects at colleges, universities and Indigenous Institutes. Locally, Trent University and Fleming College will receive over $2 million towards 11 innovative virtual learning projects to help provide students with more choice and access to high-quality postsecondary education and retraining opportunities.
“These exciting projects will help people develop in-demand skills by providing access to innovative educational technologies and better position them in the workforce,” said Laurie Scott, MPP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock.
“People’s lives are busy; working full time and raising families. They don’t always have the time to enroll in part-time courses in person to sharpen their skills or knowledge,” MPP Dave Smith said. “In our rapidly changing economy, access to these online resources will support workers in their professional development and growth,” MPP Smith added.
The 11 projects are part of the province’s Virtual Learning Strategy announced last December and support key priority areas that include creating or adapting digital content, equipping faculty and students with skills and resources to teach and learn online and identifying educational technologies to support online courses and programs. Some of the programs include:
- Fleming College, in collaboration with other educational institutions, is creating a series of eight micro-credential courses in the field of Virtual Reality. Working with subject matter experts, industry partners and employers, this micro-credential series will prepare learners with the high-demand skills and competencies employers are looking for in the industry.
- Trent University is creating and developing a micro-credential course in nursing leadership to help nursing students prepare for a leadership role in the healthcare environment.
Trent University will receive $916,992 for their program development and Fleming College will receive $1,100,908 for a collective total of $2,017,830. This is part of the Ontario government’s investment of more than $70 million to implement Ontario’s Virtual Learning Strategy, including $21.4 million announced in the 2021 Ontario Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy.
“These projects will build on and advance the skills and capacity of students and faculty at Trent through multi-media channels, such as virtual lab sessions, career development, and knowledge communication skills,” says Dr. Cathy Bruce, vice president of Research and Innovation at Trent. “The projects that are being led at Trent University contribute to the training of knowledgeable and highly qualified personnel that will in turn support post-pandemic economy recovery.”
“Ensuring that Ontario’s postsecondary institutions offer responsive and flexible digital courses and programs will help students build the skills and competencies they need to be competitive in today’s economy,” said Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “Our Virtual Learning Strategy is aimed at creating a platform that will allow all post-secondary institutions to compete in the new and necessary environment of learning from home.”
Last month, Fleming College started accepting applications for Ontario’s new accelerated training program for Personal Support Workers, this includes both Peterborough and Lindsay Fleming College campuses.
“Our historic plan to build a modern long-term care system, in which residents receive 4 hours of direct quality care per day, requires strategic investments; investments that guarantee results for the seniors that deserve it,” MPP Dave Smith said. “Years of neglect cannot be fixed overnight, but today’s announcement is another concrete series of steps in creating a system that puts care at its centre,” MPP Smith added.
“This tuition-free accelerated program is another example of how our government is working to build a 21st century long-term care system and train more people to deliver the care our seniors deserve,” said Laurie Scott, MPP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock.
“As many aspects of our lives and learning have transitioned to online over the past year, we have had to adapt quickly. The investment from the Ontario government will help Fleming dedicate more resources towards virtual learning to prepare for a future of hybrid delivery and provide more options for students,” said Fleming President Maureen Adamson. “Also, at a time when there’s a demand for personal support workers in our communities, Fleming is happy to contribute its expertise in health care training to offer the accelerated PSW program.”
The program is part of the Ontario government’s $115 million investment to train up to 8,200 new personal support workers; as part of the governments’ overall strategy to hire 27,000 new nurses, personal support workers and allied health professionals within the next few years.
The Accelerated PSW Training Program is a tuition-free opportunity for 6,000 new students and is expected to only take 6 months to complete, rather than the typical 8 months. After three months of coursework and experiential learning in a clinical setting, students will complete the final three months in paid onsite training in a long-term, home or community care setting.
The province is also offering tuition assistance to in-process PSW students who started the program at one of Ontario’s publicly-assisted colleges in January 2021. These students will be eligible to receive a $2,000 grant to help complete their studies, as well as a stipend to complete their clinical placement as part of their training.