...and the instructors and students at Elevated Learning Academy are proof that with a little imagination and an internet connection, their education continues as smoothly as possible.
With the increasing spread of COVID-19 in Alberta, and globally, ELA has prioritized the continuing education of their students with the implementation of a remote-class delivery plan.
"The emphasis is on our commitment to our students receiving the highest standard of education as possible, despite the COVID-19 crisis," said Julie Rubin, President and CEO of Elevated Learning Academy.
When the world went inside in the middle of March, a lot of us didn’t realize what exactly that meant, or what things would look like even two weeks down the road. Not only are thousands of people navigating things like education and employment in a new way, but they’re also getting used to the concepts of social distancing, hoarding toilet paper, and virtual meet-ups with their friends.
With more time on hand, many people are looking to knock a few things off their to-do lists. Maybe they want to learn a new skill like baking, or they’re taking their shot at becoming the newest Tik Tok sensation.
Others see this time as a way to get in touch with themselves, and have developed new fitness plans, focusing on new eating habits and exercise.
And it’s not like they can pop into the gym to do some reps, head down to the park for a quick run, or even run down to the market for some organic veggies and grain-fed chicken to whip up a stir-fry worthy of an Instagram post.
It’s a make-do-with-what’s-on-hand time, and people have had to adapt, and improvise, and look for inspiration online.
The students of the Personal Fitness Trainer Diploma and Applied Nutrition Science Diploma programs at ELA have been doing the same.
Jarred Berndt, the much-loved Edmonton Lead Instructor for ELA’s Personal Fitness Trainer Diploma program, explained that group activities once done in person have now gone virtual. For the lessons on spotting and small group training, students who would normally be in front of a classroom now have to engage their audience through the camera.
“I think this is going to be of great benefit for them to learn and practice, and could definitely help them in the future."
“We wouldn’t necessarily get the opportunity to do this in our typical classroom setting,” said Berndt.
Berndt has been with ELA for 8 years and in that time, he's seen a lot of change and growth within the college, and himself since he began his journey as an instructor. The COVID-19 crisis has definitely pushed himself, his fellow instructors, and the students, to get creative, while still having fun and learning.
“We wouldn’t necessarily get the opportunity to do this in our typical classroom setting"
“For our evening students, day one for them was the first day we had to go virtual. They were super grateful that we didn’t cancel the program, and that they're still going to get this opportunity to learn,” said Berndt.
The transition for students at some of the mainstream and larger post-secondary institutions wasn’t as smooth. At schools such as SAIT, NAIT, the University of Alberta, and Athabasca University, even weeks into social distancing, are still experiencing many problems such as logging on to school networks, accessing technical and software licensing, and an inability to complete the full requirements of their programs all together.
“It’s nice to be able to continue teaching as we are in this situation,” said Berndt.
Berndt chatted from his set up in Edmonton home, where he’s taken over both, his bedroom and basement, for delivering his lessons via Zoom in a virtual classroom set up. He’s also borrowed some physical training equipment from the campus, beefing up his home gym setup so that he’s able to do the hands-on demonstrations that the students have grown used to.
Berndt’s first challenge was to adapt the lower extremity anatomy class. He took what was once a group in-class activity and turned it into a virtual version of pin-the-muscle-on-the-instructor/student. Now that the instructors are several weeks into their virtual classrooms experience, such creative instructional workarounds have become the norm, and are utilized on a daily basis.
Social media and associated tools, like the following of health-related influencers and/or the class having its own facebook groups, have become a big part in ELA’s online education delivery, for instance “[Students have been asked] to find and participate in an online group fitness workout, or find a personal trainer who is doing [online training], and see what they do in these situations and present back to the class,” explained Berndt.
Applied Nutrition Science Diploma students are posting about their completion of weekly nutrition-related challenges, assigned by the instructor, through their social media accounts, while indirectly also starting to build up their online professional nutrition credibility and following. From shopping list challenges, to trying new sources of protein, students are posting their successful – and not so successful – endeavors as they incorporate new ways to learn while adapting to social distancing.
“I’m hoping that more people can realize that this is a positive thing,” said Berndt.
“It’s a bright spot in this realm of negativity.”
Students, instructors, and programs are still thriving, and so is ELA’s desire to keep their classes full and running at this time. New and prospective students wanting to learn more about the programs offered have the ability to meet with enrollment staff via video (zoom) for an information session, where they’ll learn about the curriculum, the industry, the instructors, student funding information, and the enrollment process.
By maintaining regular office hours (M-F, 9:30am-6pm), support staff are available to both, current and prospective students, via phone, email, or video chat. The college has also implemented secure online document signing and payment collection to ensure they can still deliver the full registration experience safely and easily. Want to learn more or enroll for future classes, contact them today.
By Keane Straub