(Vermilion, Alta.) When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down in-person classes and derailed many practicums, Lakeland College was pleased to share its virtual practicum simulations with Portage College students. By partnering together, Portage College’s early learning and child care (ELCC) students had the opportunity to complete practicum hours virtually and continue their education.
“Our digital simulations have been a tremendous benefit to our early learning and child care students who choose our online delivery method,” says Janice Aughey, dean of Lakeland’s School of Health, Wellness and Human Services. “We were so pleased to be able to share this amazing program with Portage College to ensure their early learning and child care students receive a virtual practicum experience. It’s more important now than it has ever been that we come together with our Campus Alberta partners to support our students during these difficult times.”
Lakeland’s digital simulations are part of the ELCC diploma’s virtual play program practicum. Developed in 2014, they provide online students with a similar experience to what in-class students receive in the on-site play program practicum, where students take the lead by planning, preparing and implementing a child care program on campus. The virtual practicum includes simulations of child-care spaces, allowing online students the opportunity to virtually engage in a child-care space and make decisions as if they were the director of their own child-care centre.
“The simulation was uploaded with ease due to the cooperation between many people at Lakeland College,” says Patricia Flatla, coordinator of Portage College’s early learning and child care certificate and diploma program and educational assistant certificate and diploma programs. “There was coordination between deans, supervisors, instructors and IT at both colleges in order to make this partnership happen for our students.”
Thirty-seven students in the Portage College ELCC diploma program were given access to the simulation.
“The simulations were very helpful,” says Sanaa Assaf, a Portage College ELCC Diploma student. “They helped us learn to welcome and encourage the children, which will help make them feel safe and in a caring environment. They also demonstrated the importance of caregivers working as a team. I learned many things from these scenarios on how to be a professional caregiver.”
Sharing the virtual simulations is just one way Lakeland and the other Campus Alberta partners have worked together to support students to adapt to the changes to course delivery due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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