Image: Portage College Hairstyling Student Kaitlin with her daughter inspecting her work during a video submission to instructor.
Hair salons and barbershops may be closed to the public during the COVID19 pandemic, the Portage College Hairstyling program is still going strong. Even with social distancing in place, the program has continued to provide quality instruction and evaluation to its students.
Instructors have used many tools to connect with students, from uploading to YouTube to communicating via FaceTime for assignments like the full perm on a mannequin.
The biggest challenge for students and instructors has been internet connection issues. Rural communities have limited resources to access internet so instructors have pre-recorded videos – which sometimes included members of their families acting as models – so students can access their courses when and where internet connection is reliable.
Students also record themselves practicing skills for formative assessment, while allowing instructors to get a glimpse of their lives outside of the classroom. Ironically, interacting at a distance has helped instructors and students gel.
“Everyone has learned to be patient with one another as we all learned a new technology, like Collaborate Ultra to run theory sessions,” said Stephanie Monteith, Hairstyling Coordinator/Instructor. “It’s been a challenge but our faculty and students have worked well together and grown closer in the process.”
Portage College has offered online learning in several programs for many years. Monteith noted that this proved to be very helpful when face-to-face programs had to suddenly switch to online instruction halfway through the winter semester.
“We’ve had great support from other faculty that used this technology regularly as well as our technical teams at the College,” she said. “Thanks to them, we will now be able to continue to create videos and other alternative forms of delivery in case future hiccups occur. We want to be ready to support our students in whatever environment they are in.”