A VIRTUAL REALITY, IN 14 DAYS at John Abbott College

Somewhere nearby at a home office/kitchen table, Québec – April 2, 2020. Success stories keep us going, brighten our day, give us hope, energy and momentum.

Who has a plan B on this scale?

  • To modify traditional post-secondary education at one of the biggest CEGEPs in the province to virtual classes in 14 days.
  • To set up and load more than 500 devices to lend to students, faculty and staff of John Abbott College to enable students to continue their semester, to get a grade.
  • To launch a community-wide initiative to modify classes, rework course material, learn new applications and reach students on the latest platforms.

Our community of close to 9,000 students, faculty & staff have pulled together in the “Abbott Way”, and done exactly that.

Day 3 of virtual classes is in the books. Below are just a few comments we have had over the last 3 days:

“I’m happy to report that I not only survived, but felt good about class today. I used lots of tricks I learned.  THANK YOU!” – Suzanne Black / Co-Chair of the Chemistry department

Jasmyne, 1st year student in Youth, Adult and Correctional Intervention says of her online classes on Monday: “They were easy to do and very successful. They were entertaining and I loved being in my bed!”

“It went very well. The software we used worked well and the teachers knew what they were doing. Class went by fast and I feel like I got the same amount of material I would have in a ‘real’ class.” – William, 2nd year Science student

“I can say that Microsoft is very easy to access and all the classes are very clearly accessible. The platform is super organized!” – Arianna, 2nd year Social Science.

“Thank you all for all the work that you did in preparing us for this. The class went amazingly well! I am looking forward to the rest of the semester very positively. Thanks again!” – Frank Lo Vasco, Math teacher at Abbott for over 40 years.

There is still so much to do and the Abbott community has embraced the challenge to continue the semester, to focus on school and giving our students the best opportunity possible to shine while also helping our greater West Island family.

Paramedic Care, Nursing, Dental Hygiene, Biology, Chemistry, Biopharma, Health & Wellness and the Facilities departments pulled more than 47,000 pieces from their supplies including: N95 masks, procedure masks, gloves, gowns and sanitizer and shipped it to the front lines of health care at the CIUSSS Ouest-de-l’Île.

What else is being done to help students?

The College remains operational despite the closure of the campus. Working from home, through the intranet site, staff have created ONE STOP SHOP: COVID-19 BREAKDOWN OF SERVICES AVAILABLE FOR STUDENTS. Through this page, students can:

  • book psychological counselling appointments that are held virtually – moral support is always available;
  • reach the food bank and make arrangements to help shore up empty pantries.
  • ask for English help now that the Writing Centre has created an online drop-in in MS Teams;
  • request tutors;
  • reach the Student Peer Online Support Group; and that is but a short sample of the information and contacts available and updated almost daily.

The reality we are all currently living is unprecedented, the challenges are many, for everyone, of course. We remain undaunted, moving forward, embracing the changes with positive cooperation, learning new ways to work together and set our students on the best path to success.

In his email to staff last week, Director General John Halpin shared the following:

We are facing a pandemic, and we know that academic success cannot be the priority for those dealing with isolation, financial challenges, poor health, or the illness of their loved ones.  However, for those who are able, we are truly proud that our whole community has united to “do something good” for our students.