The University of Guelph is hiring 85 co-op students to help faculty and students move to online course delivery in the fall.

The University recently announced plans for a “hybrid” fall semester with courses and activities delivered both in-person and remotely. The many components of the plan will unfold in the coming weeks.

Co-op hires earning between $5,000 and $7,000 will assist faculty to transform their courses over the summer.

The initiative is funded by the Student Work Placement Program (SWPP) of Employment and Social Development Canada in partnership with the Information Communications Technology Council. Funding will also come from U of G’s office of the provost and vice-president (academic).

The jobs will help students fulfill workplace co-op placement requirements while employment is scarce, and enable them to put their skills to work on the fall semester plans. Of the 85 co-op positions, 10 will be allotted to international students.

“This is a win-win,” said Cate Dewey, associate vice-president (academic). “Co-op students are searching for subject-specific work placements to complete their co-op term. Faculty are looking for help to develop pedagogically strong academic courses for the fall semester.”

Elaine Fenner, director of experiential learning, said the full-time jobs involve skills related to the digital economy and will provide students with excellent employment experience.

“Because of the general uncertainty and what’s happening with the economy, many of our employers are not able to hire students for the summer,” said Fenner. “That’s our busiest time for co-op students.”

Students hired will earn a certificate in course redesign and remote pedagogy through a series of workshops provided by the Office of Teaching and Learning, Dewey added. Some students will be able to enrol in a fall elective to gain a credit for their summer work experience.

Beginning in March, the COVID-19 pandemic meant that U of G had to quickly change course delivery methods. The University cancelled in-class instruction and moved to virtual learning.

“We had our academic partners and faculty facing the challenge of delivering their courses online, which is very new, and we saw that they would need some support to do so in the fall,” said Fenner. “It made good sense to partner faculty and co-op students.”

Each academic department and each college will be able to hire a student to support the transition throughout the summer.

Fenner said a host of practical tools and supports are needed in the hybrid learning environment.

The co-op students will develop best practice documents and tip sheets to support educational strategies, and will help create videos and other multimedia assets. They will work with course design teams to create storyboards, proofread and edit materials, and help put course material into an online format.

To provide additional support for faculty beyond the summer, the SWPP will fund up to 70 per cent of wages for 50 work terms for students in the fall and 10 in the winter, with the remaining salary costs covered by the pertinent department.