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Pandemic Lessons for Distance Learning
In the context of our HRM Professional Program, what have we learned this year?
Hopes are on the horizon for reduced risks and certainties across all components of our social and educational systems. It’s a time for counting our blessings and reflecting on how to better serve our primary audience of bachelor’s-level practicing professionals.
Last spring, as SFU scrambled to move instruction online, HRM’s Program Director took a cocky cue from Al Gore, quipping that “the HRM Program practically invented distance learning and teaching.” An exaggeration, to be sure, but the last 14 months have confirmed that we have developed a sturdy, resilient online master’s program. Because our courses and the online format are developed and delivered by archaeologists working as heritage resource professionals, the curriculum structure and content anticipated the current needs of our students.
Another key lesson: many learners and teachers not only succeed, but thrive in online learning environments. The rest of the world has had to learn for themselves the importance of grounding virtual education in real interpersonal connections and communications among peers, instructors, and other colleagues.
Our BC-based Program continues to attract an international roster of students, cohort after cohort. Although we’re still technically in the startup years of our HRM Program, SFU Archaeology’s 50 year history as a leader in archaeological research and education, along with its supremely talented faculty promise sustained success. The 14 graduates (and counting!) who have successfully defended their thesis and boosted their professional profiles and practices are the best available proof of our adaptive capacity.
We’d welcome your thoughts on how to put distance learning tools and environments into more complete service for our students, HRM, and archaeology.