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Ontario Supports Innovation in Virtual Learning in Sault Ste. Marie

Province provides postsecondary students with more flexibility and access to high-quality education and retraining opportunities 

 SAULT STE. MARIE – The Ontario government is transforming virtual learning by investing $870,520 in eight innovative projects at Algoma University and Sault College. These projects are part of the province’s Virtual Learning Strategy and will provide students with more flexibility and access to high-quality postsecondary education and retraining opportunities. 

“Investing in virtual learning will position Ontario’s postsecondary institutions to have the capacity and expertise to offer ‘Ontario Made’ virtual learning to students in Ontario and around the world,” said Ross Romano, MPP for Sault Ste. Marie and Minister of Colleges and Universities. “This infrastructure became necessary due to COVID-19 and the present need for virtual learning. The strategy was aimed at creating a platform that would allow all institutions to be able to have a fair chance to compete in this new and necessary environment of learning from home. We wanted to ensure institutions and their faculty would have the tools they need to create great curriculum online and we wanted to ensure students would be able to have access to it, where they needed it most.” 

Projects will prioritize partnerships between colleges, universities and Indigenous Institutes and support key priority areas including creating or adapting digital content, equipping faculty and students with skills and resources to teach and learn online; identifying educational technologies that can support online course and program offerings; as well as targeted supports to address virtual programming at Indigenous Institutes. 

As part of its $870,520 in funding, Algoma University and Sault College are creating and developing courses, micro-credentials and other online resources to help learners develop the in-demand skills they need to succeed in their careers. Algoma University is using their funding to hire an instructional designer, a multimedia designer, a copyright specialist and three technology rover students to deliver and develop virtual learning supports for Algoma’s faculty. Sault College is developing two micro-credential courses to help prepare and provide learners with high-quality and relevant professional development opportunities to healthcare professionals who treat patients’ wounds. 

“These investments build on our Government’s plan to make Ontario’s post-secondary education system not only sustainable but competitive,” said Minister Romano. “These projects will help small and rural schools who previously had limited virtual learning infrastructure, compete on the world stage. In addition, the projects build on other investments made by our government to support the competitiveness of our post-secondary sector, such as the creation of virtual micro-credentials programs that will give students access to these programs when and where they want. The advantages of building ‘digital-by-design’ programming extends far beyond resolving the challenges of training that have been dictated by these current unprecedented times but even more importantly this strategy will transform the future of learning 

at our institutions and further cement Ontario’s position as a global leader in the delivery of post-secondary education as we move forward in our recovery.” 

“Algoma University appreciates the continued investment by the Ontario government through the Virtual Learning Strategy,” said Donna Rogers, Vice-President Academic and Research at Algoma University. “Funding in the amount of $330,000, provided through eCampusOntario, is supporting our ability to build the internal capacity required for continued development of high-quality eLearning degree delivery, technology-empowered classrooms, and credentials that prepare learners for the workforce of tomorrow. This particular investment will bring specialized support to Algoma’s Teaching and Learning Centre in instructional design, multimedia specialization and copyright, with a focus on supporting faculty to utilize technology to enhance the classroom experiences of our learners.” 

“This is a significant investment in the future of Sault College. It not only supports our operations, but also our current and future students and our local community as a whole. The overall benefits of this funding are far-reaching and will have long-lasting effects that will move our College forward,” said Ron Common, President of Sault College. “On behalf of Sault College, I would like to express our gratitude to Minister Ross Romano for once again recognizing and highlighting the importance of post-secondary education in Ontario and the need to support this critical sector through the pandemic and the extraordinary costs associated with operating safely so we can continue to educate and train our future workforce.” 

In December of last year, the province launched a Virtual Learning Strategy through Ontario Onwards: Ontario’s COVID-19 Action Plan for a People-Focused Government to improve access to high-quality postsecondary education and retraining opportunities that are market-responsive and globally competitive. Ensuring Ontarians have the skills and training necessary to succeed in their career of choice, is crucial to Ontario’s economic recovery. 

To further expand access to high‐quality, in-demand, globally competitive virtual education, the government is investing more than $70 million to implement Ontario’s Virtual Learning Strategy, including $21.4 million announced in the 2021 Ontario Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy


  • Of the $870,520 in funding, Algoma University is receiving $330,000 for its one proposal and Sault College is receiving $540,520 for its seven proposals. 
  • eCampusOntario is a centre of excellence in online and technology-enabled learning whose membership includes 48 of Ontario’s publicly assisted postsecondary institutions. 
  • Earlier this year, eCampusOntario issued a call for Expressions of Interest (EOIs) to develop virtual learning projects in support of the government’s Virtual Learning Strategy. eCampusOntario will oversee the projects on behalf of the Government of Ontario. 
  • Through the Indigenous Institutes Virtual Learning Grant, Ontario has also allocated $2.5 million in dedicated funding to support the unique needs and virtual learning priorities at Indigenous Institutes in Ontario. Funding will help Indigenous Institutes hire virtual learning specialists and instructional designers, increase their web presence, conduct training sessions on virtual programming, and more. 
  • Ontario’s Virtual Learning Strategy is supporting the creation of more micro-credentials – short-duration learning opportunities that can help people retrain and upgrade their skills to find new employment and can often be completed online. 
  • Ontario is also providing one‐time funding of $2 million in 2021–22 for the development of a virtual skills passport that tracks learners’ credentials to set the foundation for lifelong learning and allows them to share credentials digitally with prospective employers. 



Christina Speers 
[email protected] 

Source: Ross Romano MPP: News Release

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