Transforming hands-on learning for a digital landscape at Durham College

Durham College is proving that hands-on learning can be rewarding and effective in both physical and virtual classrooms.

Durham College (DC) enables students to develop the career-ready skills required to meet the demands of today’s job market by connecting them with expert faculty and offering more than 140 quality full-time programs, including nine apprenticeship and two degree programs. With a focus on experiential learning through field placements, applied research, co-ops and other hands-on opportunities, DC grads have the skills and knowledge employers need.

In March 2020 the world changed almost overnight as the COVID-19 pandemic hit. To ensure the health and safety of their communities, many colleges and universities transitioned traditional in-class instruction into a new, digital environment.

At DC, faculty and administrators were able to pivot immediately, calling on innovative digital tools already in practice in many of DC’s programs so they could continue delivering the same excellence in education and fulfilling hands-on learning DC is known for.

These digital educational tools seamlessly transformed physical classrooms into virtual ones, allowing students to continue learning complex theoretical material, take part in engaging class discussions and online simulations, and participate in virtual experiential learning opportunities.

Faculty members adapted, developing new applications and approaches, like a computer-aided online dispatch system for 911 Emergency and Call Centre Communications students that simulates call-taking and dispatching. Others leveraged educational tools to create interactive activities in trades courses, or enable virtual internships locally and internationally – connecting students with employers around the world.

With a focus on social connectedness, DC’s expert faculty and dedicated employees found new ways to ensure a unique and supportive student experience. From online Q&A sessions and guest speakers in virtual classrooms to delivering student services in a virtual environment, DC continues to find new ways to support students on their post-secondary journey.

DC’s blended approach of digital and hands-on learning has seen students from all programs adapt and excel as they continue to experience transformative learning.

As the future takes shape, DC continues to offer exceptional academic experiences and rewarding experiential learning opportunities that allow students to develop job-ready skills and knowledge needed for in-demand careers in an ever-evolving market.

With hands-on opportunities, robust learning environments and more than 450 pathways to further their education after graduation, DC prepares students to seize whatever opportunities the future may bring.