Mr. Normand W. Bernier, Director General of Vanier College, is pleased to announce that the College Board of Directors has approved a partnership agreement between Vanier College and Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL), State University of New York (SUNY), to support and develop Virtual Team Teaching (VTT).
It started in 2006 with a project launched at Vanier College by Humanities teachers, Sharon Coyle from Cégep de Sept-Iles and Sophie Jacmin from Vanier. For two years, students from both Cegeps shared courses while being 861 kilometers apart. Such was the first Vanier instance of Virtual Team Teaching (VTT), which connects geographically separated classrooms via social media, videoconferencing and web tools. Since then Vanier College has become a leader in the field.
Reaching across continents
As technology improved so did its use to create a global classroom that could reach across thousands of miles to bring together classes at Vanier with some in Russia and Africa. Since 2012-2013, VTT has expanded to include other colleges (Heritage, Champlain Lennoxville, and Victoriaville) and institutions abroad (Saint-Petersburg State University) and teachers from other disciplines (English, French).
In late March, a Vanier group presented the VTT project at a conference in New York entitled “Reimagining Education: Can Collaborative Online Learning Be Normalized?” The conference was organized by COIL, an acronym for Collaborative Online International Learning, which exists under the umbrella of State University of New York.
The Vanier representatives included Humanities teacher, Nathan Loewen, the VTT project manager, IT pedagogical counsellor, Jennifer Mitchell, English teacher, Stacey DeWolfe, and Eric Lozowy, Faculty Dean, Science and General Studies, the administrator overseeing the project.
Vanier recognized as a leader in the field
“We presented a panel on the VTT project and contributed to an international panel on the normalization of collaborative online international learning,” says Eric Lozowy. “In a plenary session at the end of the conference, Jon Rubin, Director of SUNY COIL, singled out Vanier as one of the leaders in the field.”
Quality and originality
“Although Vanier College was a small fish in the pond od the SUNY COIL conference, which brought together administrators and professors from 120 higher-learning institutions from the U.S. and 18 other countries, the Vanier delegation distinguished itself by the quality and originality of its presentation,” says Eric Lozowy.
Contributing to the advancement of higher education
“We presented on “hospitality,” a concept and practice that encapsulates the unique competency required for virtual team teaching,” explains Nathan Loewen. “After presenting with representatives of SUNY and universities such as Coventry (UK), Kansai (Japan), and Pottsdam (Germany) we realized that the VTT project advances the objectives of higher education institutions in a globalized world.”
Vanier VTT project
The Vanier VTT project, which is funded by Entente Canada-Québec, is presently working, in collaboration with Cégep@distance, on developing resources for teachers interested in experimenting with this method.
Opening up opportunities for collaboration with international partners
“The VTT project has been an incredible vehicle for pedagogical innovation at Vanier College for many years,’ explains Eric Lozowy. “It brings together teachers who can exchange best practices in pedagogy and e-learning. The SUNY COIL partnership would represent a network-to-network connection that would open up many opportunities for online collaboration with international partners. The potential here is infinite.”
Benefits to students
Given that only 3% of Canadian students are ever able to study abroad, VTT projects are the ideal way of offering the other 97% the opportunity to exchange with students of other cultures, gain international perspectives, learn to work in virtual teams and greatly enrich their employability skills in the 21st century digital workplace.