The CAT Marketing team spoke to Director of Education Matt Redmond and Technical Services Manager Matt Chambers. They had the following to share with us about CAT’s current situation and our plans for continuing to deliver top-quality education through online platforms. CAT was fortunate to already have some plans in place for online delivery, however these were sped up to a critical speed to provide minimal disruption to our students and staff. Rest assured, just as soon as we are given the green light, classes will resume back on campus. Staff are definitely missing the creative atmosphere and we hope students are too!
How is CAT adapting to the current COVID-19 situation?
Matt Redmond: “The COVID pandemic has been a source of so many changes worldwide, and the education sector is certainly one of the most challenging areas to adapt. As we entered our final week of the January 2020 Quarter on March 16th, we had all but suspended on-campus operations – all of our students and instructors were asked to avoid the campus wherever possible, and final exams and submissions were being rolled out through our cloud-based learning management system. As a school built upon hands-on application (audio, film, photography) we immediately started planning what our delivery would look like if we weren’t able to allow students on campus. Hoping to hold out for the final week of the Quarter, we closed the physical campus on March 18th at noon, asking the few remaining employees on campus to transition to working from home. While certainly unorthodox for the majority of our staff, the team is resilient and has been adapting to the change. Thankfully, our two-week term break then started, giving the school time to plan, test and execute online delivery to start the April 2020 Quarter.
Another significant change during this time was our pre-emptive cancellation of our Spring Digital Bootcamp. Every spring break we offer potential students the opportunity to spend a week on campus, experiencing the facilities, course materials, and instructional staff. We absolutely love opening our doors to the secondary students, and it was with a heavy heart that we announced it’s postponement to the summer.
Thankfully, our IT team has been working on cloud-based solutions and systems for several years. This allows us to have our reception phone line answer from home, for our teams to connect virtually for meetings and discussions, for sharing files remotely, and for seamless access to our curriculum.”
How will our students continue with their studies off campus?
Matt Redmond: “When our school moved it’s email services to the cloud, we decided to take the MS Office 365 route. Thankfully, in the last few years Microsoft has added a significant number of additional services that help with this type of remote connection. To complete last term and deliver remotely to start this next term, we are using Microsoft Teams. This platform will allow remote connection at home for all our faculty and our student body.
In addition, there are still a few among our student body who do not have a computer at home or the ability to connect to remote delivery classes. For those students we are lending computers from our campus for them to use at this time. We acknowledge that not everyone has the hardware needed, and that we have the ability to bridge that gap for our students and continue delivering at a high level.
Thankfully, many of the software platforms we license and use on campus are allowing students to have free access from home while remote delivery is required. Companies like Adobe are doing a great job of opening up their licensing platforms to allow for a seamless transition from classroom to home office.
Our student schedules will all remain the same (days/times/etc.) but they will happen in the digital world. While we are prepared to deliver this way for next Quarter, we are hopeful that the measures taken in Canada will allow for on-campus learning sooner rather than later.”
How has the CAT team adapted to online only studies?
“Beyond the IT set up and technical testing, the biggest challenge has been ensuring that the courses we are scheduled to deliver can be delivered remotely. Some of our classes require the equipment we maintain for student use on campus, as well as the specialized classrooms we offer (film and photography studio, audio recording studio, animation capture stations, etc.). Our Department Heads have been tirelessly working with our registrar on modifying the schedule, ensuring that delivery will be seamless. This has certainly meant postponing a few courses until we can get back to campus, but we do this knowing that there is no way we can replace that hands-on experience with something digital.”
Technical Services Manager, Matt Chambers had this to add – “As the Manager of Technical Services for the Centre for Arts and Technology, I am especially proud of our students support for working with us during this rather unusual time. It’s a testament to their loyalty to their education and our school. We strive to bring the best student experience possible within the timelines and means with which we have to work. As we learn and grow our online delivery platform, I am confident the quality of education will not be impacted by not being in class. Thank you for your continued support.”
Overall, we are incredibly optimistic for the future and beyond proud of our students for their patience as we work through this trying time. If you have any questions, all staff are still accessible by email, so please reach out. We’re here to listen. Hang in there everyone, brighter days (on campus) are coming!