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Algonquin College embraces the digital age of learning

Discovery Reports

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 October, 2012, 4:30pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 October, 2012, 4:31pm

Professional learning is a lifelong journey that begins with a progressive mindset. Algonquin College embraces this challenge of the digital age with its mission to be "the connected college" of the world.

"Connectedness is at the heart of Algonquin's commitment to applied education and training," says Joy McKinnon, vice-president for business development at Algonquin College. "Applied learning connects students to peers, professional contacts and the broader community. Experiential and technologically advanced, it gives learners hands-on exposure to the subjects they are passionate about and links them to career opportunities."

Algonquin is renowned globally for the quality of its post-secondary education, apprenticeship, continuing education, international programmes and corporate learning services. A Canadian leader in the use of open educational resources, it offers online and mobile learning modes aside from the traditional campus experience to meet the needs of the digital generation. With professors stepping up as learning guides, it provides relevant education and enables students to navigate real-world situations with life skills that employers seek.

Algonquin has developed 44 new programmes across multiple industries in partnership with Ontario's business community. It is distinguished for its graduate certificate programmes in international business, human resources and marketing management and a suite of career-oriented hospitality and tourism programmes. About 70 per cent of all academic programmes provide internship and apprenticeship opportunities.

As part of a rapidly expanding media and design curriculum, Algonquin's game development programme is among the largest in Ontario. Its language institute is the largest second-language training facility in eastern Ontario, serving 3,600 overseas students every academic year.

With interdisciplinary programmes covering all aspects of construction - from building design to construction practices and building maintenance, Algonquin hosts Ontario's centre for excellence in the trade. Opened last September, the Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence (ACCE) is an industry hub with more than 600 new construction spaces.

Jointly financed by the government and the local business community, ACCE spans 190,000 sq ft and accommodates 2,500 full-time students. With a platinum-grade sustainability certification, ACCE is state-of-the-art in green design and construction where the next generation can shape the future of public spaces. Algonquin offers a four-year course on building science and a green architecture graduate certificate programme.

Committed to becoming the leading digital college by 2017, Algonquin is investing about HK$87 million towards retrofitting general-purpose classrooms into laboratories, simulation facilities and similar hands-on learning environments. Algonquin recognises that the future of education will be immersive, highly personalised and no longer bound by time and space. It is thus using connectivity to increase student, faculty and staff access to new delivery modalities, online textbooks, learning management systems, captured lessons and digital curricula.

"This kind of technologically enhanced experiential knowledge fuels economic growth and community prosperity," McKinnon says.

Algonquin helps implement the Canadian government's Student Partners Programme designed to enhance learning opportunities for foreign students in Canada. With the mainland fast emerging as Canada's top source of international students, Algonquin is highly engaged with Chinese students.

About 22 per cent of Algonquin's international students are from the mainland, mainly taking up business and hospitality courses. Students attending the School of Hospitality and Tourism gain hands-on experience at state-of-the-art production kitchens and demonstration laboratories, aside from applying their skills at Algonquin's full-service travel agency and restaurant on campus.

A strong partnership with Jiangsu Maritime Institute (JMI) in Nanjing enables Algonquin to deliver its three-year advanced business administration special programme on materials and operations management, directly on the mainland. Algonquin has continuing exchanges with JMI, Suzhou Institute of Commerce and Technology and the Liaoning Forestry Vocation-Technical College. These partnerships broaden the base of Chinese students receiving Canadian education credentials at more affordable entry points.

With laddering options at Algonquin, students who complete a diploma programme may acquire post-graduate work permits in Canada or pursue degree and graduate certificates. Permanent residency is available for graduates of Canadian schools following a year of work experience.

Algonquin is keen on expanding the scope of its Corporate Training Centre in Asia. With relevant professional workshops and certificate programmes that meet Asian firms' training and development needs, it aims to take Asian business and workers to their next level.