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Loyalist College wins award for virtual learning Cookie Factory

A cookie factory program that helps students in a virtual world explore, learn and react to scenarios in the real world has won Loyalist College a prestigious programming award.

Loyalist’s winning learning initiative is a virtual food process operator simulation which helps students in Loyalist’s Process Operator – Food Manufacturing Apprenticeship program. Using an avatar (a graphic or photograph that represents the computer user) in the virtual cookie factory, students can choose appropriate safety gear and practise safety protocols such as powering down equipment, and troubleshooting problems along the assembly line. The virtual world duplicates real-world situations, enabling participants to role-play in simulated circumstances difficult to replicate in real-life, due to lack of opportunity or security concerns.

The college received the 2013 International Learning Resources Network (LERN) Award for Programming at the LERN 40th Annual Conference in Washington, DC on Nov. 17th.

“This initiative was originally developed to meet the needs of Loyalist’s partner Kellogg Canada and their Belleville plant,” said Maureen Piercy, Loyalist College president.

“We are honoured to be recognized for our Virtual Learning Environment, which is a world-class model for virtual in-depth applied education,” said Mark Kirkpatrick, Director of Information Technology Services at Loyalist College. “Through our infiniteSpaces Virtual World Design Centre, we are providing our students, as well as national and international clients, with an innovative platform for customized learning technologies that better meet their learner needs.”

Loyalist was one of six nominees for the international award, and the only Canadian college nominated in the five categories, which included Catalog/Brochure/Schedule, Internet Web Site, Management Practice and Marketing. The programming category recognizes the latest and most advanced delivery strategies in continuing education and lifelong learning. More than 850 people attended the LERN Conference to discover which organizations are leading and how their programs are shaping the industry.

“I congratulate our Continuing Education and infiniteSpaces teams for this well-deserved honour,” said Piercy “The experiential learning benefits of our Virtual Learning Environment are a prime example of what makes Loyalist an exceptional College for our students. Distance education is becoming a prominent method for delivering many types of curriculum because it is accessible and flexible for students, especially adult learners who are working and unable to attend courses in-class.

“This distance education initiative took subject matter that was not easily transferable to a traditional online learning management system due to the applied nature of the learning outcomes, and made it possible to deliver by distance through the creation of the virtual cookie factory where students could simulate working on a food manufacturing assembly line.”

infiniteSpaces, a division of Loyalist College, established creates educational virtual environments for in-house projects, as well as external partners in business, education and government.
In 2009, the Canada Border Services Agency piloted Loyalist’s border simulation and realized a 39 per cent gain in trainees’ performance.
In 2010, Loyalist placed second in the Federal Virtual World Challenge competition sponsored by the U.S. Army. infiniteSpaces has received the Colleges Ontario Innovation Award and ORION Learning Award of Merit for work in virtual worlds.

Loyalist in its Virtual Learning Environment

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