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Universities | A world that has changed with the pandemic



It’s unanimous, students are back in force this fall on campus and we really feel a post-pandemic frenzy when we talk to various university representatives contacted for this file. People are happy to be together in class, but the fact remains that academia has been forever changed by its forced move online.

“Since September, we really feel that the pandemic is behind us and it is with great happiness that we see that life has been brought back to campus and that is important, because this excitement is essential to a rich university life. says Jean-Christian Pleau, vice-rector for academic life at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM).

However, he notes that the options have multiplied in terms of the types of courses that can be offered. “We now offer around 800 online or hybrid courses in our credit programs, which is much more than in fall 2019 when it was a niche, notes Jean-Christian Pleau. After the pandemic experience, many students wanted to continue offering online courses. »

However, there was no question of just putting a camera in front of a lesson designed to be given in class.

We trained our teachers who wanted to offer online courses to learn the best ways to present the material and to develop teaching exercises for this mode of teaching.

Jean-Christian Pleau, vice-rector for academic life at UQAM

On the other hand, even for in-person classes, the pandemic has left its mark. “It allowed us to experiment with a host of technological tools that can also improve face-to-face teaching,” adds Jean-Christian Pleau. For example, platforms make it possible to share documents, discuss, carry out workshops, do exercises or tests. »


McGill University

Towards guidelines at McGill

At McGill too, we are very excited to see the world of teaching possibilities that the pandemic has allowed us to experience.

“We are all wondering what are the best ways to integrate virtual tools to complement face-to-face lessons and, in fact, we will produce guidelines to guide teachers so that they can offer the best possible experience to their students,” says Chris Buddle, Associate Vice-President Academic and Curriculum at McGill University.

But already, this university has made a clear decision: there is no question of having hybrid classes that mix students in class and others at a distance. “An online course has to be designed differently from an in-person course, so we don’t want to mix the two,” he says. This decision was made with both the student experience and the teaching staff in mind. »


Campus of Laval University, in Quebec

30% of courses are distance learning in Laval

For its part, Laval University had already developed a lot of its online teaching before the pandemic, and this, in different forms. Some courses offer a portion of the sessions in class and others remotely, whether asynchronous or synchronous. Some courses are offered only online, while others mix in-class and online students.

“Even if we were already very advanced in online teaching, the pandemic has allowed us to improve our skills, and techno-pedagogical tools have also developed a lot, so by equipping classes properly, teachers can give quality lessons in different modes,” says Cathia Bergeron, vice-rector for studies and student affairs, responsible for health at Université Laval.

This establishment in Quebec therefore tries to offer flexibility in its teaching methods in order to meet the needs of its different types of clientele. Results ? While 70% of courses, all cycles combined, have a face-to-face component, no less than 30% take place solely at a distance.

It is above all people who already have their initial training, therefore who are generally over 25 years old, who have a job and a family, who seek more online courses because they are easier to get into. their already busy schedule.

Cathia Bergeron, vice-rector for studies and student affairs, responsible for health at Université Laval

This proliferation of possibilities has allowed Université Laval to experience sustained growth in enrolment. Over the past five years, its enrollments have increased by nearly 12%, all cycles and all teaching methods combined. If we look only at those enrolled in full-time undergraduate studies this fall, the increase is more than 13%.

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