Pandemic Response

With many non-degree programs offered fully online, OpenEd was well-positioned to offer uninterrupted access to continuing education programming when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.  

While the pandemic caused the cancellation of conferences and meant that we couldn’t gather in-person for some courses, it also gave us the opportunity to test some of our traditionally face-to-face programs in a new delivery format. Leveraging various online technologies to help create an immersive learning experience, OpenEd converted and delivered 16 offerings to a remote delivery formatwith many more scheduled for 2021 

The results are in: courses were full with wait lists, we were able to offer courses more often, and this new format allowed us to attract a more geographically diverse audience—with students participating from as far away as the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong!  

Horticulture Program Growth

With the successful launch of four new online Horticulture programs in Fall 2019—Horticulture Certificate, Horticulture Diploma, Landscape Design Certificate, and Landscape Design Diploma—2020 saw an unprecedented growth in enrolments.

With 2955 enrolments and 56 course offerings in 2020 across all horticulture programs, enrolment was nearly double that of 2019. With every course full and waitlists at capacity, additional sections were added to most of our core courses to accommodate the growing demand.

OpenEd also launched a Facebook group to connect current students in the Horticulture programs, giving them a space to connect about anything and everything horticulture related. From organizing seed swaps and sharing resources to advice on course selectionthe page has grown into a strong community of over 400 learners connected by a shared passion for plants! 

Infographic showing Mail Chimp data.

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Accessibility Conference

decorative icon.The Equine Studies program held a free webinar series over the summer months, using the series to attract new students and provide current and past students with additional learning opportunitiesEquine professionals and enthusiasts from around the world dropped in to listen to our speakers share their expertise and passion for everything equine!

The webinar series featured both guest speakers and new instructors who enthusiastically shared their knowledge around many current topics of interest to the equine industry, including information to assist equine business owners to moving their services online in response to COVID-19 restrictions.  

The five webinars in this series had a total of 1684 registrations, 420 attendees and have been viewed an additional 1291 times online (and counting!). This was not a one-time affair—the webinars have been added as resources to our current equine courses so that future students continue to benefit from the wealth of knowledge shared.  

Six Steps to Better Horse Pasture Management 
Presenter: Dr. Paul Sharpe, University of Guelph 

Online Coaching: Getting Started with Virtual Coaching and Training
Presenter: Tracy Dopko, University of Guelph 

Why Your Horse Does the Things He Does
Presenter: Shawna Karrasch 

Manure Happens: Manure Management and Composting
Presenter: Shannon Stephens 

An Introduction to How Horses Learn
Presenter: Zoë Thorbergson

decorative icon.In place of the annual Accessibility Conference in 2020, which had to be cancelled due to the pandemic, the conference sponsored a series of free fully-accessible webinars offered over the summer months. The webinars explored a series of timely topics related to accessibility within online and remote teaching environments, as well as the impact of COVID-19 on accessibility in Ontarioand provided resources to support accessible online academic content development. 

Among the featured speakers in this popular webinar series was former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and accessibility advocate, The Honorable, David C. Onley. Mr. Onley discussed the vision of the AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) and how the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional challenges and barriers for persons with disabilities in Ontario. 

The three webinars had at total of 974 registrations, 448 attendees, and have been viewed an additional 305 times online.  

Scaling Inclusion in the Transition to Remote Teaching: Barriers to Access and Opportunities for Transformation
Speaker: Dr. John Scott, Product Manager, Blackboard Ally

Creating an Accessible and Engaging Online Learning Experience
Speaker: Paul Benson, M.Ed. Distance Education 

The Progress of the AODA and COVID-19’s Impact on Accessibility in Ontario
Speaker: Hon. David C. Onley, former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Senior Lecturer and Distinguished Visitor, University of Toronto Scarborough 

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