By Nada Henein
NAIT’s fall 2020 semester marked a historic four months that saw a fully-online semester within the JR Shaw School of Business and a two-thirds reduction of total on-campus traffic.
For the winter 2021 semester, NAIT as a whole has reduced the number of students and staff on campus from roughly 21,000 per week last winter to 7,400.
The business school has a history of offering online courses, so the transition to online learning was familiar.
Dennis Sheppard, dean of the school of business said that thanks to their past experience with online teaching, the school of business was able to create an outline for the professors to follow.
“The content has not changed, but the way the professors interact with and assess students is very different,” said Sheppard.
Professors have taken advantage of revising their courses, some of which have taken the opportunity to use online calling methods to bring in more speakers from out of Edmonton. This has offered a change of experiences for the students to learn from.
Courses can come in two variations: synchronous and asynchronous.
Professors using the synchronous style of teaching have a better response from students who prefer the approach of hands-on teaching. Asynchronous has shown to be more of a beneficial learning style for students to do more on their own.
Students say that both methods work very well and some prefer the asynchronous learning style due to the ability to be able to work their jobs, earning a living while not missing out on anything.
Students also enjoy being able to look ahead at their learning curriculum. Some students said they enjoy synchronous learning just as much because of the set schedule created for them and the ability to interact with the teacher and students and be able to ask questions.
The school of business has been able to adapt and develop its processes to support students throughout the pandemic, but these changes will be temporary.
“Let’s focus on connection, not perfection,” said Sheppard.
Once the pandemic is over, they do not plan on keeping everything online since the interaction is very important in any learning environment.
Sheppard credits instructors, the moodle support team and the teaching services team for aiding the school in making sure the student experience is the best they can receive.