The ongoing partnership between Red River College and the Shenyang Institute of Engineering (SIE) has led to an award-winning project in which Power Engineering Technology lectures are delivered online to students in China.
The new initiative, in which two courses per year are delivered through a mix of online and on-site lectures, recently resulted in a 2011 Learning Innovation Award for RRC instructor David Kinasevych (Mechanical, Manufacturing & Communications) and Duojiao (Sarah) Guan, a visiting faculty member from Shenyang, China.
The award honours the team’s commitment to meeting the growing need for power engineering training at SIE, and to RRC’s mandate of strengthening international relations — regardless of challenges posed by cultural and geographic barriers.
“You can’t underestimate the challenges of working with a batch of students who are halfway around the world and 13 or 14 hours out of phase with your time,” says Fred Doern, Chair of Mechanical, Manufacturing & Communication at RRC. “(They’re) very eager to learn, but have probably only basic English skills, so you’re having to work through interpreters and deal with all sorts of other obstacles.”
The project, entitled Power Engineering to Shenyang, China (Blended learning for cross-cultural international applications), is the product of a series of joint programs established with SIE in the fields of Power Engineering Technology, Electrical Engineering Technology, and Hospitality and Tourism Management.
It arose in 2010, after RRC reps sold Shenyang delegates on the value of Elluminate web conferencing software in distance training. Following a series of demonstrations linking labs at RRC with boardrooms in Shenyang, the College’s PET team set to work preparing the first of its courses for the Institute.
“Trying to deliver a 40- to 60-hour course in two weeks, with all the challenges of language and lab facilities, is a pretty onerous task,” says Doern. “So after some discussion … David Kinasevych (lead instructor on the College’s PET team) undertook the task of developing an online version of the course for Shenyang.”
In just three months, Kinasevych and Guan prepared 10 online lectures that were delivered to 75 Shenyang students over five weeks, starting in February 2011. Students took the course in English (translators were on-site), requiring instructors to explain concepts visually, whenever possible.
The online component was a critical element in the project’s success, says Doern, noting students were already accustomed to Kinasevych by the time he arrived at SIE in May.
“They understand his accent, his manner of teaching, the types of examples he was giving — they also really appreciated David’s ability to engage them in very visual descriptions,” says Doern. “David has a real talent in terms of being able to explain some rather difficult engineering and technical concepts in very simple language, and through the use of online learning tools and a lot of graphics that were being marked up on the screen, I think there was a very strong bond built between students and instructor.”
The partnership with RRC allows Shenyang to offer its students greater insight into practical training programs, in particular North American standards and safety protocols, says Doern. Students spend their first two years (the equivalent of RRC’s first year) at SIE, then take their third year at Red River College, after which point they either earn an RRC diploma and remain in Canada, or return to China to complete their degree.
Click here for more information about RRC’s Power Engineering program.