Each step of a student’s college journey, from pre-arrival to career planning, has its own challenges. Sheridan College prepares students for key transitions with a curriculum designed to support them in an educational landscape disrupted by events such as COVID-19. The Well Series, according to the college’s assistant vice-president for academic and professional learning resources, also builds confidence and transferable skills.
“The Well Series really maximizes all of the wonderful supports and resources that help students on their journey in a way they’re comfortable with,” says Joan Sweeney Marsh. The program includes a combination of self-directed online modules, a live chat feature to communicate with advisors, and opportunities to meet other Sheridan students and employees. “It covers the entire student experience from start to finish and beyond. “
Comprised of five modules, the Well Series is a pan-institutional initiative designed and developed by Sheridan Integrated Learning Services, Student Affairs, the Center for Teaching and Learning, and Faculty and Associate Deans.
Modules follow the chronology of a typical student life cycle. Students start with pre-arrival support (Start Well), then move on to the weeks leading up to the start of the term and up to the first year (Transition Well). From there, learners also engage in very important virtual supports and learning strategies (Learn Well) as well as career and work preparation skills (Work Well). The fifth module, Arrive Well, is dedicated to international students. Available in October, it will focus on helping newcomers succeed in the Canadian post-secondary environment.
“The beauty of the modules is that any student can use them at any time,” says Sweeney Marsh. “But Learn Well, for example, which emphasizes the development of academic skills and useful study habits, has also been incorporated into first-year classes. First year students will be part of a Learn Well virtual community for additional support. “
Throughout the series, Sheridan has deliberately positioned what he calls “conscious layoffs” for students. These rehearsals focus on four main themes: building community; navigate Sheridan’s services and supports; elements of well-being and an attentive approach to the academic course; and engage in various components of academic preparation. Sweeney Marsh says that regardless of the module, these redundancies serve to tie the trip.
“For us, transferable skills are the way of the future,” she says. “These layoffs help students gain additional skills and understand how they can be transferred into the learning process and beyond.”
Because the college journey would not be possible without the faculty, Sheridan has developed an additional feature of the Well series called Teach Well. This program includes self-directed content and scheduled live workshops for teachers on topics related to the development of innovative and engaging teaching materials and methods.
Faculty members receive examples of how to create course material using an interactive multimedia approach and tips on how to cultivate a sense of community and connection for students. They also explore a variety of evidence-based teaching and learning strategies to increase student engagement and motivation, and to share knowledge and experience with them.
“You can’t learn well without teaching well,” says Sweeney Marsh. “Because good teaching leads to good learning, we need to equip teachers with the tools they need and facilitate awareness of the connectivity of the whole educational experience. “
As Sheridan rolls out the Well series, it is already planning additional modules such as Graduate Well, which is slated to launch in the spring. While still in preparation, Sweeney Marsh says this module will help students answer the question: What do I need to successfully graduate?
“The development of the Well series really reflects how learning and design is progressing,” she says. “It’s iterative, it’s a journey, it’s circular, and there’s a sense of lifelong learning that is both transformative and transferable. “
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