Creativity Fuels A Successful Transition To Remote Delivery For Health Care Aide Instructors

When Bow Valley College moved classes to remote delivery in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, instructors in the Health Care Aide Certificate program were already adapting to a new curriculum. 

In January, the program changed from four months to eight months. Instructor Coralie Marcucci said when the switch to remote delivery happened, she and her colleagues used their creativity to start teaching lab skills online. 

“We had to try to come up with creative, new ways to engage the learner, on top of us learning the new curriculum,” she says. 

The instructors developed new assignments and created YouTube channels so they could record teaching videos. The learners also created channels to film themselves doing their lab skills at home — and they too had to use their creativity by employing family members and items from around their house, instead of mannequins and lab equipment. The instructors created chat rooms and breakout sessions where the learners went through scenarios together. 

Another impact of the pandemic was the need to change the clinical component of the program. Due to outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, instructors postponed the clinical experience until the summer.

While the move to remote delivery presented challenges, it also reinforced the importance of the profession. Coralie used stories from the media about poor quality of care in some Canadian facilities as a learning opportunity, asking students: “How are you going to make a difference?”

Entering the health care aide profession during a pandemic, and seeing real examples of the need for quality care, has helped learners understand why they want to go into this field. 

“I think the learners that we have here are going to really excel when they go to the clinical setting,” Coralie says. 

After their clinical experience, their job prospects are expected to be good, due to a need for trained health care aides, and the connections that learners will make as they spend seven weeks at one facility.

Coralie notes that before the pandemic, she didn’t know much about online teaching technology, so initially the thought of delivering the program remotely was daunting. But the motivation to have learners succeed and get into the workforce quickly changed that. Now instructors are preparing to engage a new group of learners in September. 

The move to remote delivery has challenged both instructors and learners to use their creativity, resilience, and teamwork to work outside their comfort zones.

“Some of the students said, ‘I thought I would never be able to do this,’” Coralie says. “And they did.”

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