Oshki-Pimache-O-Win The Wenjack Education Institute is launching a new Bachelor of Social Work degree program in partnership with Algoma University with a scheduled start date of January 2021.
“This is an accelerated opportunity for students who already have a college diploma to jump in midway into a typical Bachelor of Social Work degree program,” says Kim Falcigno, director of academics at Oshki. “It takes one year less than normal so they would do it with us at Oshki in three years instead of four years in the regular delivery at Algoma University.”
Falcigno says Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) communities have been asking for more mental health support services.
“So we’re really excited about having the opportunity to create university-level mental health workers for NAN,” Falcigno says.
Falcigno adds that Oshki will be able to educate its alumni from the Social Service Worker — Indigenous Specialization program or graduates from other college Social Service Worker — Indigenous Specialization programs through the Bachelor of Social Work degree program.
“Graduates will become registered with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers and they can also move into doing masters degrees or be in independent practice depending on the advanced credentials they earn in their masters,” Falcigno says.
Oshki also rolled out its new D2L (Desire2Learn) Brightspace learning management system, which was funded through an investment from the Ministry of Colleges and Universities, this fall for students to access handouts and other materials from their teachers.
“It’s all collected together in this special area that the students log into — for each one of their courses there is a section,” Falcigno says. “It’s also where they can hand in their assignments, they can do all of their quizzes or tests in there and it keeps their grade book, and there is also a discussion forum so they can keep a threaded conversation going in their courses, and that is another layer of engagement.”
Falcigno says the Brightspace system was first launched last spring for a few programs but it is now rolled out for all the programs.
“And that is what is allowing us to do a more effective job for 100 per cent online learning this fall, a blend of our Contact North virtual classrooms as well as our Brightspace learning management system,” Falcigno says.
Oshki is also continuing with its block delivery model of two weeks of intensive classes, followed by a block of evenings-only classes, repeated twice during the fall semester, but the students will remain at home for the entire time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Instead of assembling in Thunder Bay on campus for the two weeks of intensive (classes) they’re going to stay safe in their home communities and use the same platform that they would have done their night classes on,” Falcigno says. “They’re just going to do them all day for those intensive weeks. So it’s through Contact North and the Adobe Connect virtual classroom.”
Falcigno says Oshki has worked with communities to find access points for students who do not have a computer and Internet access in their home.
“Without that technology, they can’t really participate effectively in the programming,” Falcigno says.
Oshki is also offering a two-semester College Access certificate program beginning in January 2021 for people who do not have the prerequisites to be accepted into a college program.
“It’s a preparatory year they would take and then based on their individual success within the program, how good their marks are, that would give them a pathway into our other or anybody’s college program next September,” Falcigno says. “You only have to be 19-years of age to join the program — it starts in January and runs right until August.”
Information about Oshki’s programs is available at Oshki’s newly revamped website at: www.oshki.ca.