#HumberTogether: For the first two weeks of March leading up to the anniversary of campus closures due to COVID-19, Humber Today will publish stories showcasing the exceptional efforts of various departments, clubs and individuals over the last 365 days as part of a #HumberTogether Series.
Humber College staff and faculty have overhauled, adapted and updated their workflows over the past year to accommodate an all-new academic landscape.
Students now face the challenge of navigating new curriculum and ways of learning.
In order to support student success, Humber has provided tools and funding to assist them.
“Many across the Humber community picked up on technology and tools quickly,” said Humber Chief Information Officer, Scott Briggs.
“Looking back, the initial crisis was an opportunity for us to be thoughtful as an organization and strategic for the future. As we improved internal operations digitally, we created a lasting impact on the organization, which we believe will translate into effective processes that support students’ success.”
In its Student Commitment, Humber College has pledged to develop interactive courses designed for this new virtual reality. The courses cover the same key learning outcomes as before and integrate learning into students’ education, professional and personal lives.
In addition to giving students a great online learning experience, Humber has committed to keep the community connected using online services and supports and clear, timely communications about updates and changes.
Throughout the last 365 days, the college has also sought to support student wellness and inclusion through a variety of initiatives that include Town Halls, special presentations and the work of the college’s new Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce.
To help students navigate Humber’s online supports, the Information Technology Services department created an online resource listing Frequently Asked Questions about learning from home.
Humber has negotiated with many software companies so that their products can be downloaded for free at home. The college has also initiated AppStream, which allows many of the programs found on Humber’s lab computers to be accessed from the cloud.
All Humber students have access to Microsoft/Office 365, which they can access using their Humber username and password.
Many students used computer labs on campus prior to March 2020 when they closed as part of campus’ partial closures. The college has initiated supports for those students who do not possess the technology they need to learn effectively.
The IT department has created Student Technology Loans for those who require equipment to complete their studies. The service is offered on a first-come, first-served basis and there is no cost to borrow equipment.
Students can submit a request form for laptops and Internet support.
Humber College has also created a catalogue of work from home essentials with Dell, which includes exclusive pricing for Humber College students and employees looking to purchase computers and other products.
Students can also purchase discounted computers through a partnership with Renewed Computer Technology (RCT).
There are three packages available, including a basic desktop package for $110 with shipping, an upgraded desktop package for $250 with shipping and a basic laptop package for $200 with shipping. Students must demonstrate financial need to be eligible for the program.
Funding has been made available specifically for international students who are required to buy a device to meet program requirements. The Bring Your Own Device Bursary for International Students in Canada is open for the academic year 2021/2022 and will range between $500 and $1,000 depending on the program and specific requirements.
‘Humber made this possible’
Some support opportunities have also been offered directly by academic programs, including one initiated by the General Arts and Science (G.A.S.) programs, which recently awarded laptops to four student winners, taking the first steps towards their post-secondary training and education.
“We sought to address the technology barrier by awarding a student in each of the four GAS programs this January with a new laptop,” said April-Dawn Blackwell, the associate dean of Pathways in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences and Innovative Learning.
“We know that over 40% of our GAS students go on to complete degrees at Humber, and even more go on to successfully complete other programs to achieve their career goals. GAS students are future focused and can get ahead, they just need to start in the program. “
During the first month of his program, GAS Technology student Tristan Gomes had been unable to access a computer with the right specifications for his program. When he was named one of the winners, his stress decreased dramatically.
“This laptop will allow me to do the labs I have assigned and follow along with my professor without any issues,” he said.
“I can’t thank Humber enough. I wasn’t in any kind of financial situation to purchase a laptop.”
The initiative was successful in another way, too.
“We have such caring and thoughtful students in our program. One of the award winners said they had a pretty good working computer and wanted another student to benefit,” said Blackwell.
The original winner gave up the laptop and it was given to another student in need one of the GAS programs.
The gift of technology will have an effect on the winners beyond the ability to take notes and work on projects. According to Gomes, the win gave him motivation and positive momentum.
“Going into school at 25, a mature student, might be difficult but I keep striving to do my best. Once I graduate from a Network Security program in the future, I plan on opening my own security company,” he said.
“I have to say, Humber made this possible and the fact that I won the laptop makes me even more dedicated to my goals.’
For more information on General Arts and Sciences programs, click here.