Blended learning brings NAIT students back to campus

Most post-secondary classes in Alberta have moved to online learning, but for some students, a virtual education is not enough. For instance, auto body students at NAIT returned to the classroom this week.

“[It’s been challenging] trying to work in the shop with your mask on, wearing your safety glasses and everything. It’s always fogging up and all that, it’s kind of tough,” auto body student Hateem Ibrahim said.

“It’s pretty good,” another student Ameen Ari said. “The only thing is it’s pretty hot.”

Auto body students typically already wear protective equipment, but with COVID-19, more has been needed.

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“It’s been required that when they are at NAIT they also wear the face shields and unfortunately it can be a little bit tough to get your voice across through the mask and the face shield,” NAIT auto body technician instructor Ryan Pomedli said.

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To be heard, instructors turned to technology.

“So what we’ve got is the voice amplifier and basically all I have to do is turn it on and then speak into the microphone and I can project my voice to the entire class,” Pomedli said.

A socially distanced room full of post-secondary students is not a common sight these days.

‘We’re seeing roughly 62 per cent less people on all our campuses combined from years previous,” NAIT Media Relations Specialist Nicole Graham said.

What to expect at Alberta post-secondary campuses in a pandemic

What to expect at Alberta post-secondary campuses in a pandemic

While a majority of post-secondary classes are being taken online, programs that do require hands-on learning are going back to campus.

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“Of our degree, diploma and certificate programs, 59 per cent of them are being delivered in a blended format,” Graham said.

“Forty-one per cent of them are being delivered virtually online.”

NAIT says 27 of 28 apprentice programs are blended, where theory learning in done online, and the rest in person.

“It’s vital that the students come in. The hands-on is absolutely critical for them. It’s like learning how to drive a car from a book and never actually getting behind the wheel,” Pomedli said.

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While instructors say the added personal protective equipment is manageable, there are some drawbacks.

“The only thing that makes it a little bit more of a struggle for us is not being able to read facial expressions with the students to see if they are little bit confused on something or even which student it is,” Pomedli said.

“We’ve has to put nametags on their coveralls.”

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