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Overview of the OLTC Program

Bishop’s University has become adept at working in conditions of disruption to deliver authentic, healthy, and supportive learning environments that are student-centred. In the last three years, and in light of the ongoing impact of COVID-19, the Online Learning and Technology Consultants (OLTC) program helped faculty at BU to enhance capacities in the development of resiliency skills and transformative learning, with a focus on Equity, Diversity and Decolonization (EDID), Inclusive High-Impact Practices (HIPs), and critical reflective practice, all the while harnessing educational technology, OERs (open educational resources), and a healthy dose of critical hope.

The OLTC program goals are threefold: 

  1. Assist faculty members in their adaptation to new teaching contexts  
  2. Provide students with transformative work-integrated learning (WIL) experiences and future-facing skill development 
  3. Help reimagine a 21st-century classroom with students as key collaborators.

The OLTC Program uses a Student-as-Partners (SaP) model of collaboration to offer unique employment and applied learning opportunities for undergraduate students. Students are provided with immersive training in pedagogy and educational technology to work as consultants with faculty and teaching staff to redesign courses for online, in-person, and hybrid delivery. 

The Program

Professors sign up to receive OLTC support and are paired with a student working group (SWG). Students are, for the most part, pursuing degrees in the same division within which they were assigned. During the first meeting with the faculty member, the SWG conducts a needs assessment with the professor during a one-hour session. The SWG then works on solutions and recommendations to answer the professor’s concerns and ensures that recommendations are aligned with the learning objectives of the course. In three to four working days, the SWG delivers a list of recommendations, suggestions, tips, tutorials, and similar resources that correspond to the specificities of the professor’s course, teaching style, and desired classroom experience. The professor and SWG then engage in regular meetings as they build the course platform. Throughout the process, OLTCs workshop any thorny questions or challenges with support from ITS, instructional designers, and members of the OLTC design team.

OLTC Training and Specialties

The OLTCs are students who are hired and then participate in 80 hours (two full-time weeks) of training prior to the program’s official launch.

Pre-orientation preparation: The OLTCs are assigned videos and texts about SaP, empathetic design, and active learning, as well as asynchronous resources to review before the training starts. 

Technological training: We run extensive training sessions on the three major technologies supported by ITS and used on campus (Moodle, Panopto, and Microsoft Teams). 

Online course modules: The OLTCs go through a six-module asynchronous course called Adapting Your Course for Online Delivery (developed at Acadia University and available through our membership with the Maple League). 

Faculty mentorship: OLTCs are divided into Student Working Groups (SWG) to design a course with a faculty member (modelled on a problem-based learning scenarios). Each SWG is paired with a faculty mentor model (FMM). The FMM chooses a course they are planning to teach and the SWG works closely with the faculty member on one of their courses. 

Critical self-reflection: All participants engage in critical reflective practice based on a series of thought prompts in daily journal entries and daily “round up” discussions with the OLTC design team. 

During the two-week orientation, there are also several smaller information modules covering a variety of subjects, including copyright, accessibility within online platforms, high-impact practices, empathetic design, and more.  

Final capstone project: The small working groups present their redesigned courses to the larger group and all the faculty mentors. Presentations include best practices in online student engagement and the digital artifacts that they created in consultation with their FMM. 

Ongoing professional development: Because we understand learning as an ongoing process, the OLTCs are expected to participate in regular professional development sessions about classroom design, inclusion, accessibility, and accommodations, etc., organized through the Maple League.