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How Acsenda handled the shift to blended learning

By Conley Mosterd

 

When COVID-19 hit Vancouver last March, Acsenda School of Management quickly adapted its teaching and services online, vacating the campus by month’s end. Acsenda’s rapid response to the pandemic was a result of its forward-thinking and long-going change management efforts through effective strategic planning.

 

Before COVID-19, Acsenda was predominantly focused on delivering a world-class learning experience in an in-person environment, with professionals and academics from all over Vancouver coming together to prepare international students for their future careers in Canada. As early as 2017, however, we were already assessing the possibility of incorporating online technologies for Acsenda’s future teaching and learning activities. In November 2019, a strategic technology plan was unveiled to map out a change management plan for 2020-2022.

 

This two-year change management plan was adapted into a two-day crisis management plan at the onset of COVID-19, but the pieces were already in place for Acsenda to respond swiftly and competently. Effective planning, supported by our culture of inclusivity, communication and transparency across all levels, minimised the financial and organisational impact of the pandemic, and it was a crucial win for the entire Acsenda community.

 

We did not rest on our laurels after that, though. We focused on our next challenge, which was setting up an online education that was comparable to the small classroom learning experience that Acsenda was known for. It was a challenge we were willing to face head on.

 

By introducing software and programs such as BigBlueButton and QLess, student information system upgrades, website and online event delivery capabilities, Acsenda created a digital ecosystem that offered an educational experience consistent with our motto, “International thinking. Individual focus.”

 

With attendance rates consistently over 90% over the past two terms, pass rates of over 94% and ‘very strong’ student satisfaction scores, Acsenda continues to provide an engaging learning experience, whether online or on-campus.

 

Last October, Acsenda students returned to campus for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. With a hybrid teaching delivery, Acsenda has reduced the number of students on campus at one time, with class populations rotating weekly. The classrooms have been retrofitted with technological equipment, to integrate both groups studying on-campus and online each week. Acsenda has also implemented a range of health and safety measures including mandating the wearing of masks on campus.

 

New industry partnerships

 

Despite the pandemic, Acsenda has continued to be an institution that prioritises connecting people and professions, building long-lasting relationships with well-connected organisations in Canada and abroad. Acsenda has formed a partnership with the Canadian Institute of Traffic and Transportation, which will allow students to take electives that count towards a designation in supply chain and logistics.

 

Acsenda has also partnered with the American Society for Quality, a globally focused organisation with expertise in training certification and professional development for those interested in pursuing careers in quality assurance.

 

These are more ways that Acsenda is looking to grow long-term, positioning the institution as a leader in preparing international students for a professional career in Canada.

 

Social and civic engagement

 

Acsenda continues to be a part of the local community. Last September, Acsenda celebrated its fourth annual Shoreline Cleanup, an event where students, faculty and staff volunteer for environmental awareness and research.

 

Acsenda also participated in Orange Shirt Day, an event designed to commemorate the residential school experience for Canada’s indigenous population, to witness and honour the healing journey of the survivors and their families, and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation.

 

This term, Acsenda remains devoted to providing international students with the educational requirements to pursue a professional career in Canada. Through blended learning initiatives, relationships with regional organisations and emphasis on Canadian values, Acsenda students acquire the prerequisites needed to thrive in the global job market.

 

 

Conley Mosterd is Acsenda School of Management’s Communications Officer. He is responsible for managing Acsenda’s communications and lead generation strategies. In his spare time, he enjoys playing basketball, freediving and doomscrolling the New York Times mobile app.