Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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Loyalist College wins big with virtual manufacturing simulation


January 4, 2013
By Special to Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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With a little help from some high tech, Loyalist College captured the 2013 International Learning Resources Network (LERN) Award for Programming at the LERN 40th Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. 

Loyalist’s winning learning initiative was a virtual food process operator simulation, which provides an immersive, experiential learning experience to Loyalist students in the Process Operator – Food Manufacturing Apprenticeship program. With an avatar in a virtual cookie factory, students virtually explore, learn and react to scenarios they would typically encounter on the job. They choose appropriate safety gear for their avatars and then practise important safety protocols such as powering down equipment, and troubleshooting problems along the assembly line.

“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 Programming 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 International LERN Conference in Washington to discover which organizations are leading and how their programs are shaping the industry.  

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“The experiential learning benefits of our Virtual Learning Environment are a prime example of what makes Loyalist an exceptional College for our students,” said Loyalist College President, Maureen Piercy. “This initiative was originally developed to meet the needs of Loyalist’s partner Kellogg Canada and their Belleville plant. I congratulate our Continuing Education and infiniteSpaces teams for this well-deserved honour.”

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 is a division of Loyalist College, which offers more than 60 full-time programs and 77 university transfer agreements around the world. Since its inception in 2006, infiniteSpaces has established itself as a leader in the application and creation of educational virtual environments for in-house projects, as well as external partners in business, education and government. Past projects include work for the Government of Canada, Government of Ontario, U.S. Department of State, Indiana University, and the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, among others. In 2009, the Canada Border Services Agency piloted Loyalist’s border simulation and realized 39 percent gains 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. Visit infiniteSpaces at www.infinitespaces.ca.

The Learning Resources Network (LERN) is an international association of lifelong learning programming, offering information and resources to providers of lifelong learning programs. Visit LERN at www.lern.org.