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College to continue alternative delivery of programs and services; on-campus classes remain suspended until fall

April 3, 2020

Red River College will continue providing alternative delivery models for programs and services for the upcoming spring and summer terms, which means there will be no on-campus classes or public events until September.

Work integrated learning (practicums, clinical, work experience) will continue to be suspended except for those instances that can be completed using online or alternative approaches. Co-op/industry placements will continue at the discretion of the workplace employer.

Today’s announcement extends the timeframe that students, faculty and staff are expected to work off-campus in order to meet increasingly stringent public health directives aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Manitoba.

“We know this is a challenging time for students, faculty and staff,” says Dr. Christine Watson, interim president and CEO of RRC. “With public health advice changing regularly, we felt that it was important to make a decision that allows for planning certainty throughout the rest of spring and summer.”

Watson lauded the hard work, commitment and creativity of faculty and staff in making the transition to alternative delivery over the past few weeks.

“We have seen our faculty and staff re-imagine their work via technology in a way — and at a pace — that we never thought possible. I also know that we have students who are struggling to adapt to this new reality. We are thankful for all of those who are working together to find a way through this unprecedented situation.

“We would love to be able to re-open our doors and go back to the hustle and bustle of our vibrant campuses. But that simply isn’t an option. We also know that when we begin to rebuild our economy, Manitoba will need Red River College — students will need training to get jobs and launch their careers, and industry will depend upon our grads to fill their workforce needs.

“Our core mission has never been more important to the future prosperity of Manitoba.”

Watson said she is proud of and inspired by RRC employees. In addition to working remotely and taking care of family and loved ones during an uncertain time, many in the RRC community continue to go above and beyond the call of duty.

She cited several examples, such as the 14 Health Information Management students who are helping public health track the spread of the coronavirus data, the TACAM and Smart Factory equipment being used to manufacture wheel bases for IV stands, and the donation of nearly 1,700 N95 respirators from Safety and Health Services to help health-care workers on the front lines.

“Not everything we are trying is going to work perfectly — but what we’re doing is working and working hard to help our students, our employees and our province get through an unusual and unpredictable time. We know there will be disruption. We also know that if we persevere, we will be well positioned to quickly resume regular operations once it is safe to do so.”

The College continues to operate in accordance with public health directives and is in regular contact with the Province of Manitoba.

As the situation is fluid, the College will revise and update its operating procedures and policies as needed. This includes the possibility of re-opening RRC campuses to classes prior to September if public health advises that it is safe to do so.

The College will continually update faculty, staff and students; the latest information will always be available at rrc.ca/coronavirus.

Red River College supports community fight against COVID-19

March 25, 2020

In the midst of a rapid shift to alternative program and service delivery this week, Red River College is dedicating expertise and resources to support the community-wide public health effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our province.

“We get through times like these by contributing everything we can to the common cause,” says Dr. Christine Watson, RRC’s Interim President and CEO. “Like all Manitobans, our faculty, staff and students are resilient, compassionate and innovative. There’s a tremendous need out there for everything we have to offer, from materials and equipment to knowledge, resourcefulness and expertise.”

This week, 14 students in the College’s Health Information Management program responded to a call for support from Manitoba Health. The students are now employed by the department of epidemiology and surveillance, collecting data on COVID-19 cases, which will help with tracking efforts in our province.

The work the students are doing will be critical for program planning and supporting public health during challenging times, says instructor Amanda Burridge, noting the employment opportunity will count as credit towards the practicum component of their program.

“Health Information Management professionals are the people who ensure that Canadians’ health information remains accurate, accessible and secure, which is vital during an outbreak,” she explains. “Our students will be a pivotal part of the team, ensuring that the most accurate information is available when it’s needed.”

The students will support the WRHA until the beginning of May, unless the status of the pandemic extends the need for their services.

N95 respirator maskThe College is also contributing supplies to combat COVID-19. RRC’s Safety and Health Services department has donated 1,669 N95 respirators to the WRHA to be distributed among frontline health-care workers to help address the shortage of critical supplies.

And on the public awareness front, the College is donating radio and digital inventory and external signage to help spread the word about social distancing guidelines, prevention tips and COVID-19 information. The information being shared is part of the Province of Manitoba’s 3P’s public awareness campaign.

On Monday, RRC transitioned to alternative program and service delivery in order to protect the health and safety of students and employees, while also helping students continue their studies. During this time of social distancing, the College has cancelled all in-person classes and public events on campuses.

For the latest news and information about RRC’s response to COVID-19, visit rrc.ca/coronavirus.

Red River College welcomes students back — to virtual learning and delivery

March 24, 2020

This week, Red River College and its students took their first steps into new territory as courses resumed following a week-long study break.

The same social distancing practices public health authorities are asking everyone to follow to combat the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic — including cancelling all gatherings — make it impossible for students and instructors to gather in classrooms, workshops and other facilities where learning normally takes place. So, the College has turned to virtual program delivery to get the job done.

“Luckily, three of our greatest strengths as a College community are resilience, agility and innovation,” says Aileen Najduch, Acting Vice-President, Academic. “RRC leadership, faculty and staff came together last week to put those strengths to work in developing alternative forms of program delivery.”

Each program is different, and so is each approach to virtual program delivery. Some instructors are using online meeting platforms such as WebEx and Microsoft Teams to facilitate virtual classes and chats. Others are using Skype, Zoom, and YouTube group forums to connect and discuss course topics. Still others are sharing narrated PowerPoint presentations with students.

“I’ve already heard from an instructor who says the WebEx class they held for one of their Marketing courses this morning had full participation,” says Kirk Johnson, Dean, Business and Applied Arts, and Hospitality and Culinary Arts.

Many of RRC’s virtual program delivery tools were already in use before the COVID-19 outbreak. They’re simply being deployed more extensively now, says Johnson. For example, Business Administration students are using a networking app called Riipen to connect with real-world clients on projects.

As well, all RRC students have free access to LinkedIn Learning, an enormous database of online courses — a virtual asset Johnson says instructors will rely on more heavily in the months ahead. Although the College cancelled all practicums to protect the safety of its students, some programs are developing virtual practicum activities and experiences, including case studies with industry partners.

In addition to switching to alternative program delivery, RRC has reminded students that College supports and services are available online or over the phone if they need help coping with stress or anxiety, or if they require special accommodations for completing coursework. The College has also launched a coronavirus webpage to serve as a resource and news hub for staff and students.

For now, says College leadership, the “how” may have changed, but the “what” remains the same: helping students achieve their academic goals. RRC has committed to its alternative program delivery model until May 1, when the winter term ends. How the College proceeds from there will depend entirely on the pandemic, and the advice of provincial, national and international health authorities.

“Even though our hallways have never felt emptier,” says Najduch, “the compassion and creativity we’ve seen from our community gives us great hope that we will get through our current challenges and emerge stronger than ever.”

College to implement alternative delivery of programs and services; on-campus classes suspended until May

March 18, 2020

Red River College is moving forward with the transition to alternative delivery models for programs and services starting Mon., March 23.

This means education and training will continue for RRC students, who are currently on a study break. However, no classes will be held on campus until the end of the winter term (up to and including May 1). All practicums are being cancelled for this term as a result of widespread disruption in workplaces across the province.

This approach will help bring greater consistency and certainty to the operational planning that is underway, and will meet the directive for social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Developing alternative delivery models for our many diverse programs is a significant undertaking that can only be done on a program-by-program basis. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach that we can adopt in this unprecedented situation,” says Dr. Christine Watson, interim president and CEO of RRC.

“We are working very hard to find the balance. We want to protect our students, faculty and staff and meet public health guidelines for reducing the number of people on campus. We also want to support students so they can continue their studies.”

Watson says RRC faculty and staff have pulled together quickly to work on transition plans.

“I cannot say enough about the hard work, dedication and creativity of our workforce here at Red River College. This is a very difficult and stressful time for everyone and it is incredible to see so many people rise to the challenge before us. We are very fortunate to have such a strong College community to rely upon during trying times.”

Watson notes the transition to alternative delivery methods will require patience and flexibility. Because each program is unique, no two transition plans will look exactly alike. All options are being explored, including using online learning, simulated training, overlapping terms, and adjusting curricula to delay practicum and lab work.

While academic programs will resume next week, all RRC campuses remain closed for in-person classes and public events. Faculty and staff are either working remotely or in small numbers on campus in order to practice social distancing and help slow the transmission of COVID-19.

As news and information regarding the virus becomes available, the College will continually update faculty, staff and students. The latest information will always be available at rrc.ca/coronavirus.

Red River College implements Study Week for students in response to COVID-19

March 13, 2020

In order to reduce the number of people on campus and help protect students, faculty and staff, Red River College is implementing a Study Week for students, effective end of the day today and extending through all of next week.

This Study Week for students will allow the College to undertake several critical functions:

  • Reduce the overall number of people on campus, in accordance with public health recommendations to increase social distancing and reduce both the size and frequency of crowds and gatherings.
  • Review College programs and services, and plan for alternative delivery models for when classes resume, including increasing online learning. Not all programs can be fully delivered online, but increasing online or alternative methods of delivery where possible will help RRC manage the return to classes.
  • Determine which staff can work remotely without impacting the College’s core operations.
  • Perform a deep clean of campus facilities – an operation that is scheduled for next week and will be easier to conduct with fewer people on site.

“One of the key recommendations from public health is to reduce the number of people at gatherings — and this includes our campuses,” says Dr. Christine Watson, interim president and CEO of RRC. “Study Week for students will allow us to immediately reduce our numbers and allow staff and faculty to focus on developing plans for alternative delivery when classes resume.

“We recognize that many programs cannot be delivered remotely. However, the goal is about limiting and reducing personal contact, so there are changes we can make that will reduce this contact overall while ensuring students are able to complete their studies.”

During Study Week, the campus will be closed to students and the public. Only those visitors doing approved business with the College (such as contractors and vendors) will have access. Senior Leadership and RRC’s Incident Management Team will continue to monitor the situation in consultation with public health authorities and may extend Study Week if that is deemed necessary.

Students are encouraged to use Study Week to work on assignments, prepare for upcoming course assessments and exams, utilize online resources and other avenues to research and complete academic term papers, and hold web-based team meetings to work on and complete assigned projects.

This step announced today by RRC is in addition to other recent measures including the suspension of all international and domestic travel outside of Manitoba; cancelling of all College events and large gatherings; and restricting the number of meetings to only those that are essential to core operations.

“The health and safety of our students, staff and faculty are paramount, so we are trying to find creative ways to operate in a fluid, rapidly-changing environment. As public health authorities note, social distancing practices are a vital part of preventing the spread of COVID-19 so this step is also about RRC doing its part for the community at large.”

Watson said as news and information regarding COVID-19 continues to unfold, the College will continue to ensure that staff, faculty and students are informed and that RRC takes the necessary steps to help reduce the transmission of the virus.

The latest information will always be available at rrc.ca/coronavirus

College takes measures to prevent transmission of COVID-19

March 12, 2020

Red River College is working closely with public health authorities and is focused on providing timely information, reassurance and support to our staff, faculty and students as we continue to take necessary measures to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19 at all of our campuses and to our broader community.

Our campuses are currently open and our classes, labs and exams have not been cancelled — however, our Senior Leadership Team is working with academic program areas to determine alternative program delivery approaches and models that could be implemented in order to further reduce the numbers of students, faculty and staff on site.

Additionally, RRC has suspended all international and domestic travel outside of Manitoba, cancelled all College events and large gatherings, and restricted the number of meetings to only those that are essential to core operations.

RRC’s Incident Management Team continues to monitor the situation closely in concert with our response plans, and in conversation with our colleagues at other post-secondary institutions across the province, and with advice and direction from our provincial and federal public health authorities.

As news and information regarding COVID-19 continues to unfold, the College will continue to ensure that staff, faculty and students are informed and that we continue to take necessary action to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

Daily updates are available at www.rrc.ca/coronavirus

Where’s Watson? RRC’s interim President launches behind-the-scenes video series

February 25, 2020

Dr. Christine Watson, Red River CollegeEver wondered what a typical day looks like for Red River College’s President? Now you can find out.

Armed with an iPhone and a plan, Dr. Christine Watson — RRC’s interim President and CEO — has launched a new video series where she’ll share a behind-the-scenes look at what she’s up to on campus.

The “Where’s Watson?” series will be recorded entirely by phone, so it’ll be as real and raw as it gets.

What can you expect to see? Think tours with community leaders and industry partners, major events happening all over the College, celebrations with staff, faculty and students, and what Watson is up to in the community (and maybe even a sneak peek underground a campus or two).

We’re excited to provide you with an inside look and a new way to engage with Watson as she documents the work of an interim President. You can connect with her directly on LinkedIn to watch her videos, which will also be shared on other platforms for those who don’t have a LinkedIn account.

Check out the first instalment in the series, taken right before Watson hosted her first Breakfast with the President. These breakfasts happen monthly and give employees from all areas of the College an opportunity to chat with the President one-on-one, share what’s going on in their worlds, and bring new ideas to the table.

Design for mural celebrating Indigenous traditions unveiled

February 12, 2020

A canvas of colour representing traditional Indigenous teachings and local history was unveiled today at Red River College.

The painting, created by Anishinabee artist Jackie Traverse, will be one of the main design features of the College’s new 100,000 square-foot Innovation Centre, currently under construction on Elgin Avenue in the Exchange District.

The piece will span approximately 1,000 square-feet across the inside and outside of the building’s fourth floor ceiling, and will be visible from blocks away.

“I’ve been wanting to tell that story about Indigenous people having a right to be in the downtown area for so many years,” says Traverse (shown above, third from left). “If you just wait long enough, your visions, and your beliefs in your heart will find a way to come to fruition. And I’m thankful Red River College picked me to do this.”

Traverse is a multi-disciplined Anishinaabe artist who works predominantly with paint on canvas. She was born in Winnipeg and knew she wanted to be an artist from the time she was four years old. A graduate of the University of Manitoba’s Fine Arts program, Traverse is known across Canada for her powerful art, which speaks to the realities of being an Indigenous person.

The piece is inspired by The Forks — where the Red and Assiniboine Rivers meet. It will incorporate the 13 moons (which could be interpreted as rocks to represent the Grandfathers), people, bear paws, and the Oodena Celebration Circle. She hopes that each person who views the painting can find their own interpretation or meaning.

“I think it’s really important to have it in downtown Winnipeg,” she says. “A lot of people don’t know the history and don’t understand why there are so many Indigenous people in the Portage Avenue and downtown area. Our people have had a history with this place for thousands of years. It’s in our blood memory and our DNA. We’re drawn to the place of our ancestors and the footsteps they left behind.” Read More →

College announces new partnership with North Forge Technology

February 6, 2020

Red River College, North Forge Technology Exchange and North Forge East are joining forces to help more entrepreneurs bring their businesses to life.

The three organizations announced the partnership today at RRC’s ACE Project Space in the Exchange District; they intend to work together to increase the success rate of entrepreneurial activity, provide real project-based learning opportunities for students, and encourage investment and growth in start-up companies in Manitoba.

“We’re very excited to officially grow our partnership with North Forge,” says Haider Al-Saidi (above, second from right), chair of Applied Computer Education at Red River College. “This will allow us to expand the services we provide to our entrepreneurs-in-residence and provide our students with additional resources and technology to enhance their skills.”

RRC will provide office space, access to its UX labs, and other technological resources, while North Forge will provide access to its Fabrication lab. Each party will also engage in cross-promotion of events, services and news.

The goal of the partnership, made official by the signing of an exchange of services agreement, is to create an innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem that benefits Manitoba entrepreneurs and enterprises of all sizes — one that includes RRC students and North Forge’s office locations in Winnipeg, Pinawa and The Pas.

“Start-up companies and entrepreneurs are hard-working, determined and have brilliant ideas, but they may need additional help in developing their concepts into products,” says Teresa Dukes (above, at right), President of North Forge Technology Exchange. “We believe this partnership with Red River College will provide those businesses with the resources, technology and knowledge needed to grow their products, reach their sales and market goals, and add value to Manitoba’s economy.”

Since 2017, there have been 46 projects completed at ACE Project Space, providing opportunities for more than 240 students to work with 18 entrepreneurs and 28 industry clients. North Forge has worked with more than 200 clients since launching in 2011, and has created more than 7,500 prototypes in its labs. Read More →

RRC students launch new ASL Club to sharpen signing skills

January 22, 2020

Eager to enhance their communication skills by gaining practice outside the classroom, students in Red River College’s Deaf Studies and American Sign Language — English Interpretation programs have teamed with Deaf students from other programs to launch a new ASL Club.

The club — which is open to all RRC students, Deaf or not — allows members to teach other new skills in a safe, welcoming and fun environment.

It borrows its acronym from American Sign Language, the most common method of communication used by Deaf people in North America, and the one currently being taught to a number of the students who comprise the club’s inaugural roster.

Evan Husack, a Social Innovation and Community Development student at RRC, was appointed leader of the club shortly after it formed. So far, Husack and fellow co-founder Stephanie Jebb — both of whom are themselves Deaf — say they’re pleased with how things are progressing.

“It’s been going really well and it’s a safe space for people to use their signs,” he says.

Husack (shown above, at left) believes it’s important that all RRC students who plan to work with or in the Deaf community join the club, as they stand to learn a lot of things that can’t be taught in a classroom.

“The biggest thing to really improve your skills is to socialize with the Deaf community, if you actually want to get better,” Husack says.

“Being able to socialize [and] meet real Deaf people, that’s where you develop your skills.”

The ASL Club meets every Wednesday from noon to one p.m., in room F314 at RRC’s Notre Dame Campus. Read More →