Learn Anywhere, Anytime
“We have opened up our professional development courses to an ever-expanding range of people,” said Inna Popova, Director of Career & Professional Development Non-Credit Programs. “They work full time; some have families and all of them have schedules to keep. If it weren’t for the virtual classroom, many would not be able to advance their careers as they are now. We want to meet their demand for interactive online courses and keep them engaged with their instructors and their fellow students during the process.”
The School began offering hybrid professional development courses in 2014 and expanded its offerings this fall. “Hybrid” courses are presented both online and in classrooms, but they are not simply recorded lectures – they emphasize interactions between remote students, their in-class peers and the instructors.
In order to ensure the best learning environment, hybrid courses are structured differently from mainstream classes. The School developed a system of breakout chatrooms to aid remote students in discussion, while in-class assistants help them connect with their professors during lectures. The School has dedicated a great deal of resources in technology and training to make virtual learners successful.
These methods encourage participation from even the most distant students, whether they are studying public relations from Burlington, Vermont or management consulting from London, UK. “Our primary goal is making sure our remote students feel just as engaged as the in-class students, and that they learn the skills they are here to learn,” says Popova.
The success of the online courses has been substantial. Since the launch of interactive online sections, professional development has seen registration increase by 16 per cent; approximately one-quarter to one-third of students in the hybrid courses are located remotely outside Montreal. “The goal is to produce live, online versions of all our professional development certificate program courses,” says Popova. “[Online learning] is the direction working professionals are heading in when it comes to furthering their education, and McGill is excited to offer them the opportunity to grow at all stages of their careers.”