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Teaching Essentials

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have questions about course-based registration that aren’t answered below, email us at

Why are we changing to course-based registration?

Education is becoming increasingly portable. Students want more control and flexibility in the way they learn. At the same time, more than 50% of existing jobs will be disrupted by technology in the next decade. Employers’ needs are changing rapidly and we have to adapt.

Students’ needs are also changing. They also want the flexibility to take courses from other programs to adapt their education to meet their specific needs and interests.

Finally, non-CBR students pay for an entire program, even if they are not taking all the courses in the program. Many students lack opportunities to take courses part-time or pay for courses as they take them. This creates financial barriers.

Why not keep the status quo?

The greatest risk is falling behind the trend in post-secondary education and failing to meet the needs of an educational landscape that is demanding more flexibility. We risk losing both prospective and current students.

We also remain vulnerable to losing out on revenue and cost-savings/efficiency opportunities.

What does CBR look like for a student, in practical terms?

  • When a student is ready to learn at RRC Polytech, they will self-enrol, plan and register for their courses using an online tool called Student Planning
  • Program Advisors will assist students with learning pace and pathway decisions through the Student Planning tool
  • Students will have more scheduling options for courses, including evenings and weekends
  • Courses will be either 3 or 6 credits
  • Students will take no more than 6 courses per semester (to protect against overload)
  • All students will take common communications and other courses shared across programs – if they change programs, they won’t have to take the course twice
  • All courses will be on LEARN
  • All programs will have the same semester lengths and start/end dates
  • Students have experiences with industry before graduation (Work Integrated Learning)
  • Students will pay for the courses they take
  • Most programs will have electives, and there will be a greater number of overall electives

Due to the high number of complex factors for our students and programs, there are some exceptions to these above points.

Is course-based registration available for international students?

Yes. International students, like other students, will experience many of the changes of CBR including updated programs, standardized credit units for courses, common communications courses and Work Integrated Learning.

In regard to registration, in term one, rather than using Student Planning, each international student will be “block registered” –a manual process by a Student Records Officer that provides them with a complete, full-time course schedule. In some cases, self-serve registration will then open up for term two and beyond. This ensures that students’ full-time course load is protected, which is required for a student study permit.

The College is continuing to explore additional capabilities of the Student Planning tool and related business processes to identify possible alternatives to this approach for the future!

Payment approaches for international-student-specific programs involve unique complexities. As a result, the pay-as-you-go component of CBR does not always apply for international-student-specific programs.

Will this mean that tuition will increase for students?

RRC Polytech is committed to being one of the most affordable College’s in Western Canada while delivering long-term financial stability for the College. Financial Services is currently reviewing the costs of our program elements, including work-integrated learning, to determine a sustainable and understandable costing framework.

Will all the programs change?

Most will convert through CBR. There are a few programs such as aviation-related and apprenticeship programs that may be restricted significantly by external accreditation and safety boards.

What will things look like as more programs transition?

We will see an increased focus on program re-design, students taking courses across programs and experiencing greater interdisciplinary learning, and an increase in enrolment. We may see more part-time learning and for some, a slower pace to graduation.

We will see more blended and online course offerings as well as a full adoption of LEARN for all instructors. We will see greater numbers of common courses shared across all programs.

And by moving to a common term, we hope to see better space utilization and more efficient classroom scheduling, which generates new opportunities.

Are people going to lose their jobs as a result of this shift to CBR?

We are now in Phase 4 and there have been zero job losses as a result of CBR. There are no anticipated job losses over the duration, but there may be opportunities where roles are changed/expanded or additional resources are required to support this change.

What role do faculty members have in this process?

Faculty are subject matter experts and crucial contributors to the success of CBR. Faculty have the expertise needed to help shape our new curriculum content as well as delivery methods and instructional approaches. You may be asked specifically to participate in course re-design.

There will be more standardization of processes which will include a greater number of automated communications to support students.

Faculty may begin instructing students outside their programs. In some instances, faculty may be invited to consider teaching evenings, weekends, and during the summer.

Faculty will start to see more “out of program” students in a course which may impact teaching styles and classroom management techniques.

What are the benefits to faculty?

  1. The ability to access high quality, commonly delivered courses in communications, math and science as part of the CBR program renewal, which will allow you to focus on your areas of specialization.
  2. For some, the ability to teach at new times of the day, week or year that were previously unavailable to you, thereby providing more flexibility as to when you will have time off to meet individualized needs.
  3. Seeing your students’ barriers lessened and student success enhanced through a more flexible and affordable model of education.
  4. Updates to some courses as part of CBR program renewal leading to refreshed course design and content.

What is the length of a CBR term?

It is 15 weeks, inclusive of exams.

What is the credit unit length for CBR courses?

All CBR courses are either 3 Credit Units or 6 Credit Units.

How many semesters will we be offering to students in a year?

There are three standardized semesters for CBR.

Fall, which runs from late August to December end; Winter, which runs from January to April; and Spring/Summer, which runs from May to late August.

What is a credit unit?

A credit unit is 15 contact hours. A contact hour is one hour of scheduled learning activity with a group of students, led by an instructor, and usually in a classroom, laboratory, shop or clinical setting.

How many credit hours will a diploma or certificate student need to graduate?

Diploma students will have to achieve a minimum of one hundred credit hours (1500 contact hours) and certificate students will have to achieve a minimum of forty-five credit hours (660 contact hours). All other credentials have been defined in the Academic Framework.

Will staff and faculty need to learn new software?

Yes. Some of this new software has already been adopted and other tools will be launched in the future. These include:

  1. LEARN – our Learning Management System (LMS). Though many programs were already using LEARN prior to CBR, and all programs proceeding through CBR are required to do so, all programs (both CBR and non-CBR) now use LEARN as a result of our comprehensive FODM response during the COVID pandemic.
  2. Student Planning – this tool offers an online, self-directed, interactive planning and registration experience. It also assists Advisors in supporting students. Chairs, Academic Coordinators, Advisors, and some instructors will need to become familiar with this new software depending on their level of advising support and interaction with students.
  3. Curriculum and Catalogue Management – new catalog software will be introduced in a later phase of CBR to connect our website and campus systems, resulting in an enhanced user experience for locating programs and courses. Additional curriculum software will automate, track and document academic approval workflows for those involved in academic reviews.
  4. Data and Business Intelligence Software – in a later phase of CBR, the College plans to introduce additional data and business intelligence systems and tools to support analysis and forecasting in both CBR and non-CBR activities. Depending on your role, you may interact with these.
  5. WIL Hub – as planning continues in the area of centralizing and supporting all Work Integrated Learning activities across the College, there could be new software introduced.

Who is leading CBR?

The Course Based Registration Steering Committee provides oversight and strategic direction to CBR. It is comprised of:

  • Christine E. Watson, VP Academic and Research
  • Arnold Boldt, ED Academic
  • Aileen Najduch, ED Student Services and Global Partnerships
  • Giselle Martel, Comptroller
  • Adam Gerhard, Chief Information Officer
  • Derek Kochenash, Dean, Skilled Trades & Technologies
  • Kirk Johnson, Dean Business, Information Technology & Creative Arts
  • Eddy Lau, Director, Centre for International Education & Global Partnerships
  • Kathy Kerr, Dean, Continuing Education
  • Kerri Korabelnikov, Dean, School of Education, Arts and Sciences
  • Isabel Bright, Dean, Indigenous Education
  • Debbie O’Donnell, Dean, Health Sciences and Community Services
  • Nadine Ogborn, Director, Centre for Learning and Program Excellence
  • Craig MacDonald, Director, Information Technology Solutions
  • Michael Krywy, Director, Institutional Analysis & Academic Planning
  • Anna Hughes, Director, Enrolment Services & Registrar
  • Ryan Green, Director, Financial Services
  • Valerie Shantz, Senior Strategic Advisor, Academic
  • Marnie-Leigh Boulet, Coordinator, ACE; Change Practitioner, CBR
  • Jacqueline Wood, Project Manager, Academic

What if the common communication courses don’t meet the competency requirements of the credential? Can we customize a common communications course?

The Human Skills Initiative, of which the C-skills courses form the core, provides learning opportunities for students that are broad and competency-based. The courses have been designed to address employers’ call for RRC Polytech grads to have skills such as active listening, collaborative work habits, self-aware advocacy, among others.

The C-skills suite of courses opens with the foundational learning of Communication Strategies (COMM-1173), then offers a sector-level course that addresses broad learning outcomes within the context of the core program’s industry or area of study (ex. Communication for Business/COMM-2174 or Communication for the Life Sciences/COMM-2171).

A program-specific course is an option for programs that require specific learnings not covered in the foundational or sector-level courses. In addition, a course that focuses on workplace readiness has been designed for use by any program: Communication for the Workplace/COMM-2172.

Should your program have unique or particular learning needs to meet accreditation requirements that the current version of a C-skills course does not address, please reach out to the Human Skills Initiative team within Math, Sciences & Communication via their Staff Forum web page, or contact Lauren Phillips, department Chair.

When will Nursing move into CBR?

Nursing is a degree program with accreditation complexities that will require a longer CBR conversion timeline than most programs. Currently the plan is to convert Nursing over two phases, with the launch in the latter phase. At earliest, Nursing will start in phase 5 and launch in phase 6, but the timeline has not been finalized.

What happens with “scaffolded” multi-year programs where learning outcomes and skills are graduated and assessed over time?

CBR programs are no different than non-CBR programs in this respect. Where students can take the courses in any order, then they are free to do so. Courses that require prior knowledge gained in previous courses will be identified with pre-requisites. Programs that go through CBR clearly identify pre-requisites and co-requisites to allow for scaffolding of knowledge and ability as the student progresses through the program, whether they take it at a full time or part time pace.

What are the best learning models? What role is technology playing in the evolution of education? Do we have plans to go totally digital with CBR?

Great learning can happen through a range of delivery models – whether it is classroom-based, online or blended. A blended course integrates face-to-face and online activities so that they reinforce, elaborate on, and intentionally complement one another. While some learning at RRC Polytech requires a hands-on approach such as when tools or equipment are required and alternatives are not possible, RRC Polytech instructors are encouraged to develop and deliver innovative teaching approaches and technology to respond to our current situation and the future challenges and opportunities ahead of us.

Online, flexible delivery must be included in the design and development of all programs and courses at RRC Polytech. Courses must be developed and delivered considering the various needs of the students we serve. Accountability for quality course and program delivery resides within the academic portfolio and School that is responsible for delivery.

As the pandemic remains fluid, we are committed to ensuring standards for Fall 2021 online course delivery, which includes guidelines for essential in-person delivery and enriched in-person delivery. This is based on advice from Public Health and Provincial guidelines. We also have a Phased Re-Entry approach that will continue to guide our delivery models going forward into our post-pandemic world.

Are there any programs just for international students only? How you decide that a program is only for international students or only for local students?

Red River College Polytechnic is respected globally and there is high demand for our programs both domestically and internationally. In 2019-20, Red River College Polytechnic saw enrolment of over 2,100 international students from 50 countries. Over 80% of international graduates choose to stay and work in Manitoba. Some programs at RRC Polytech have international-student-specific cohorts. Many other programs offer seats to a blend of domestic and international students. International seats are offered in three ways:

  • International cohorts within revenue-generating programs
  • A reserved number of international seats within provincially grant-funded programs
  • Seats in grant-funded programs initially reserved for domestic students that are not “sold” and are “released” to international students

Our new Strategic Plan and Academic Plan, which will be developed in 2021-22, will guide our future strategies in this area.

One of the student benefits identified in CBR is increased recognition for prior learning. How will RPL be integrated?

Transfer credit, RPL, articulation and advanced standing pathways will play a bigger role in our CBR world – it’s important that we have a well-organized transfer and pathways system with increasing opportunities for RPL for our incoming and continuing students. As CBR continues, these elements will be developed out further. Click here to see a visual representation of how RPL is part of Course Based Registration.

As we move forward with CBR, are we considering the ability of students to “chart their own course” and whether they have these skills? What supports are being provided?

CBR provides students with greater autonomy to select their course section times and pace of learning. They will also have a greater ability to determine their course load. This level of autonomy is similar to many student experiences already taking across Canada and we know from both students and industry that this is what they want.

However, we know it can be hard to make decisions about the future. To the extent that incoming students will need additional help with their path, pace, planning and registration, they will benefit from the support of newly developed RRC Polytech program advisor roles that will be able to help them achieve their goals, along with the continued support and expertise of our academic coordinators who are most familiar with the program and courses.

I have heard from students that they are having a hard time building their schedule with their preferred instructors. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions on that?

Course Based Registration is intended to provide students with greater accessibility and flexibility on their pace of learning and course schedule. It does not aim to provide greater accessibility to a preferred instructor. Students can be encouraged to register in a timely fashion in order to maximize their preferred schedule but that there are other factors that may impact their options. This includes our Priority Registration Policy, a common feature among post-secondary institutions, which assigns registration time slots based on a variety of factors.

When not enough students register for a scheduled course, what happens then?

The number of sections offered for each course is generally matched to program enrolment numbers. The key difference with CBR is that the sections may be offered at a wider range of times. There is a minimum enrolment number that must be met in order for any section to proceed; if the enrolment number is not met, there is a chance that the course section may be cancelled. We will be determining this on a case-by-case basis over the next year and closely watching student registration behaviour so that we can respond. In many cases, there will be other sections available for the student to select.