Meeting learners where they are

Mohawk offers a range of high-quality, flexible program options

Through innovations in teaching and learning and a priority placed on learner choice, Mohawk College is changing the landscape of its program offerings.

Learners have individual needs, depending on their educational and employment background and goals. A range of credentials, from micro-credentials, continuing and professional education courses, certificates and programs, to more traditional post-secondary diplomas, advanced diplomas, degrees and post-graduate certificates, provides options to suit any learner.

Today, the life cycle of learning is broad and continuous. Mohawk’s new Digital Learning Strategy and its growing delivery options will ensure the college meets all types of learners where they are, says Janet Shuh, Dean of Continuing Education and Academic Development.

“Whether it’s a student coming directly from high school into a diploma or degree program or a mid-career professional seeking upskilling, reskilling or coskilling through a short-cycle micro-credential, we offer an agile, flexible and comprehensive credential landscape across the life cycle of learning.”

Optimal flexibility

Mohawk recognizes that learners have demanding schedules and different learning styles. Some prefer the experience of in-person learning, while others want or require fully online curriculum delivery. Still others prefer a hybrid approach.

A new HyFlex academic delivery modality provides choice of how a learner wants to learn and where. Mohawk has equipped its first three classrooms to offer all three modalities in a course or program at once: face to face (on campus), synchronous (live real-time) online, and asynchronous (at the learner’s own pace) online.

A learner can choose one modality throughout the credential’s duration or choose different ones each day or week to suit their work and personal schedules.

“This requires more equipped classrooms and some training for faculty in moderating delivery in this way. Faculty may also need to re-think how hands-on activities and assessments are administered in a HyFlex environment.”

HyFlex uses classroom technology, such as Zoom rooms, tracking cameras, high-quality speakers, and large monitors to facilitate interaction between faculty, students learning virtually, and those face-to-face in the classroom.

This delivery modality also leverages the college’s robust Learning Management System (LMS) to provide an asynchronous (at their own time) learning experience for students who prefer or need to learn outside of scheduled class times.

About six Mohawk programs – including Civil Engineering Technology – Transportation and Urban and Regional Planning – Geographic Information Systems (GIS) – are delivered in high-flex mode, says Shuh, but that will grow.

This innovative teaching approach enables out-of-region and out-of-province students to enroll in programs that have traditionally been in-person. That is proving to be popular.

With minimal promotion, Urban and Regional Planning – Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has already attracted 24 registrants in the new online intake for the current fall 2022 semester, in addition to the 27 students in the traditional in-person intake.

Many of these students were from areas far outside of Mohawk College’s geographic catchment.

Micro-credentials: short-burst learning

A growing field of learning is micro-credentials that deliver learning in shorter durations than traditional post-secondary programs, often in less than 12 weeks. The college works with industry partners to identify, develop and implement micro-credentials that meet employer needs.

“They are short-burst, targeted learning programs to meet specific training and skills needs. They are delivered in flexible delivery modes to suit the needs of our learners.”

They are often delivered online, but may involve experiential on-campus learning components. Many are developed asynchronously (no live classes) so learners can learn when and how they want.

Some micro-credentials are one-off, while others are designed in “stacks” that combine into a larger credential and digital badges that can be added to a LinkedIn profile or curriculum vitae. For the stacked micro-credentials, students are awarded a “milestone” badge to show stacked program completion.

Mohawk College offers stacked credentials that have been built by industry, including IBM, as well as those that have been designed, developed and delivered directly by the college in human services, technology, manufacturing, business and other areas of specialization.

“The engagement of industry ensures micro-credentials deliver highly targeted and relevant skills training that meet the emerging and future needs of the workforce,” says Shuh.

A great example is a new 3D Visualization for the Built Environment micro-credential that develops skills in building information modelling (BIM), 3D rendering tools, GIS and CAD techniques, digital twins and virtual reality/3D printing applications for design, presentation, construction and ongoing operations and maintenance of buildings and spaces.

“Our industry partner worked closely with us to identify key competencies needed in the building field and to develop the curriculum needed to support those in-demand skills in construction and trades, city planning, facilities management and architecture,” says Shuh.

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, 3D models and VR/AR is the next step in the architectural, engineering and construction industry,” says Tage Crooks, lead developer of the micro-credential and a zoning examiner with the City of Mississauga.

“Interest groups, politicians, residents and other stakeholders do not want to read page after page of policy on a particular development - they want to know how that development will impact their lives through the visualization of the project. Mohawk’s new micro-credential in 3D visualization is a game-changer in teaching industry professionals how to create stunning 3D models to convey design intent for their projects in the real world,” says Crooks, who is a part-time professor with the Urban and Regional Planning Technician – GIS program and one of the expert facilitators for the new micro-credential.

Strategic digital direction

On the other end of the spectrum, Mohawk College offers two standalone degrees in Digital Health and Business Administration (Trades Management). A Bachelor of Analytics and Data Management (Honours) will launch in fall 2023.

The college intends to develop more career-ready degrees over the coming years, says Shuh.

All program development will be guided by a new Digital Learning Strategy that accounts for all the shifts and pivots that came out of the pandemic.

“We know that the needs and wants of students have changed. While some students still want the traditional on campus learning experience, others have a desire for more flexible learning options,” says Shuh.

“A critical outcome of the Digital Learning Strategy is to create more flexible program delivery options to meet current, and future, students’ learning preferences and life circumstances. A great example is the redesign of the diploma in Business for an optional fully online delivery while still offering the on-campus version.”