The school is entirely virtual, so much so that many of the students had never met one another in the real world.
Lindsay Chmil graduated with a two-year diploma in early learning and childcare. Saturday was the first day she met her classmates of two years.
“I just met them all today … it was nice to recognize some of the names and put faces to the names,” Chmil said.
Chmil is a mother of two, who lives in Saskatoon. She says that going to a virtual college allowed her to raise her kids and work while studying at the same time.
“You could do it at home and on line and multitask,” she said.
Credenda College is six years old. Last year more than 400 people went through its high school program, which is how the school began. More than 150 graduated from the college program.
Chris Macaulay takes care of all the IT needs of a virtual school. He helps to keep the technology run smoothly in the virtual classrooms, assisting with the networks and communications.
“We basically try to recreate that brick and motor school setting, but in an online environment,” he said.
“We find that it’s better than just correspondence, ‘here’s your work now go and do it, if you have any questions, here’s a number to call.’ With an actual instructor your questions and everything are answered right there. It’s basically just a normal school. Just online.”
“We could have up to 20 kids in a class from all different communities coming together,” Macaulay said.
Macaulay said there are few reasons the school seems to be working for students.
“The draw … is that you can still work, and go to school at the same time. It’s one night a week.”
“Students get the benefit of being a full time student technically. The way that the classes are set up, you are still classified as a full time student.”
Another major draw for their students is that they do not have to relocate.
“You don’t have to move away, you don’t have to leave your community, to get room and board somewhere. You can just actually stay at home.”
“We basically try to recreate that brick and motor school setting, but in an online environment,” Macaulay said. -
An added benefit is that a student can rewatch any class if they need to, Macaulay said.
“All the classes are recorded, that way if you’re sick or you can’t attend… that class is recorded. You can always go back for a review around test time,” he said.
Most of their students are from smaller communities and from First Nations communities.
“We are a First Nations School, we are a First Nations community school, and that’s our main focus. We want to focus on the First Nations aspect, people from remote locations in the North. We want them to have the same benefits as everybody else,” Macaulay said.
Saturday’s Graduates completed one of a variety of programs: library technician, early childhood learning, educational assistant and business administration.