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[l-r] Dr. Nobuko Fujita, Odette Distance Education Course Development Specialist, Prof. Jim Stevens, Odette Director of Professional Accounting Programs, and Dr. Zhenzhong Ma, Management and Strategy Area Chair prepare for their demonstration of online learning during the UWindsor 50th anniversary event.

Classroom of the future demonstrated during 50th anniversary event

The Odette School of Business began live testing of online, interactive course offerings in support of the Odette CA Pathway (now the “Odette CPA Pathway”) in the winter semester of 2012.  Currently, every accounting course in the BComm curriculum, as well as introductory courses in finance and law & business administration have been updated to an online or blended format.

There weren't any technical difficulties, according to Jim Stevens, Director of Professional Accounting Programs at Odette.  “The move to courses through Open Learning is important in serving students, including those not resident in the Windsor area, meeting the needs of the professional accounting organizations for high quality distance education delivery and also in meeting the strategic objectives of the Odette School of Business and the University of Windsor,” he said.

Virtual Classroom SignRegistered students have access to the virtual classrooms through each course’s learning management system website, which allows them to view and listen to lectures through video display and speakers on their computers, or even on their mobile devices. Facilitated by Blackboard Collaborate software, the virtual classroom is interactive as well allowing students to communicate in class by texting in the chat bar where they can ask and answer questions and participate in discussions using their microphones.

Will the virtual classroom make the old style classroom obsolete?

While there will likely always be demand for regular classroom learning, online technology will provide students with a lot more flexibility according to Andrew Kuntz, Assistant Dean, Finance and Administration. “The virtual classroom and interactive software will enable students to take courses when they couldn’t have in the past because of job requirements or other responsibilities,” he said.

Course offerings are either online (all lectures use virtual classrooms) or online blended (limited number of classes in physical classroom and remainder in virtual classroom sessions). Plans are currently underway to begin updating all remaining required BComm courses for delivery in an online or blended format.