University of Saskatchewan students get ready for online learning

Orientation at the University of Saskatchewan will look a little bit different this year.

Fall orientation begins Wednesday

Orientation for University of Saskatchewan students begins this week. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

Orientation at the University of Saskatchewan will look a little different this year.

Normally thousands of students would flood into campus to attend university orientation, but this year the celebrations are being done online due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The university said it has received notifications from over 3,200 students for online registration this year, a new record.

"I think it's a sign of a hungriness," said Patti McDougall, vice provost of teaching, learning and the student experience.

"It's a desire to figure out what their fall semester will look like."

Unsurprisingly, most students will be attending classes from home this year, with a few notable exceptions.

Medical, nursing, dentistry, veterinary and some music students will receive a mixture of hands-on learning and online classes.

While McDougall predicts some students will thrive in the distance learning model, she said others may struggle working remotely.

She said the university's student support services has reacted as best it can to reach as many students as possible.

"Whether it's in a virtual-type appointment or whether it's on a phone call or whether the student wants to interact over email, it's really individualized in that way," she said.

Despite a lack of physical classes, tuition is not going down.

McDougall said the university is spending more money through distance learning, not less.

"From the academic perspective, there are no cost savings associated with this remote delivery model," she said.

"There have been incremental costs associated with a new learning management system that has better functionality and more tools that our students and our faculty colleagues can use." 


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