If you were to ask people on the campus of the University of Calgary where to find the crowds in town this week, the first place they’d most likely mention would be the Stampede grounds. And they’d be right.
But they’d also be correct if they suggested that there is a pretty good-sized group right here on campus.
In the first three weeks of July, more than 375 graduate students of the Werklund School of Education take summer residencies with their cohorts in the Master of Education, Master of Counselling, and Doctor of Education programs, which offer students the opportunity to take the bulk of their course work off campus while maintaining active schedules in their personal and professional lives.
“We often hear from our students that being able to continue with their careers or to care for family while earning a graduate degree is a huge plus," says Michele Jacobsen, associate dean of Graduate Programs in Education. “Our professional graduate degree programs are uniquely structured to allow our students to deepen and enhance their knowledge of their chosen area of study in a blended [online and on-campus] format.”
The students come from Calgary, across Canada, and from many international locales as well. Lisa Bauman, who travelled from Waterloo, Ont. to attend sessions focused on adult education, says she did extensive research before deciding on the Werklund School. And she says it was the blended approach that made the difference to her. “You get to build a small community of people who are there to support you and help you," Bauman says. "And you get through it together.”
Yesterday, Provost Dru Marshall, Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies Lisa Young, and Werklund Dean Dennis Sumara joined Jacobsen in welcoming the students at a luncheon. There are a range of social events interspersed with the classes to make the on-campus experience enjoyable, interesting and full.
While the students work together online for most of the course work, having the opportunity to meet with members of their cohort face to face during their residencies is a welcome opportunity to get to know each other a little better and to develop strong collaborative learning strategies.
“It’s a relief, and really centering and affirming to meet my cohort in person for the first time,” says Meg Martin, a master of counselling student, who is from Calgary and works on campus in the Women’s’ Resource Centre. “I think you deepen your relationships when you meet someone in person and you learn a lot more about who they are as a person.”
The students will finish their course work and head back home at the end of next week, moving a step closer to completing their MEd, MC and EdD degrees. And in spending two weeks of their summer on campus, they’ll have made new connections to each other and to the University of Calgary.
Quick Chat: Werklund School of Education Instructor Meadow Schroeder, who supervises two groups of graduate students involved in blended courses, talks about the benefits and challenges to on-line learning.