Submitted by Melanie Lefebvre
How are you staying afloat this year?
I went virtual with field placements! The students in the Community and Health Services Navigation program were scheduled to enter the field for a 6-week placement in May 2020. Once covid-19 restrictions started, I knew I needed a back-up plan. My tips from having to adapt to an unexpected change to the curriculum? Do your research! Reach out! Be tenacious! Embrace creativity!
Do your research: Your research may include reaching out to your contacts to brainstorm creative solutions. I researched online placements. I researched online simulations. Through my research, I found sparkontario.ca which lists volunteer opportunities across the province, many of which are virtual.
Reach out and be creative: I connected with agency after agency through sparkontario.ca, inquiring whether they’d be open to a virtual partnership. I also connected with the agencies who were originally going to take a student on-site to explore creative ways to make it work (example: I decided I’d create a Moodle shell full of interactive activities for students. This gave the option of suggesting reduced placement hours with agencies as this would be supplemented with Moodle activities. It also opened up options for multiple placements with varying hours.)
Be tenacious: Many agencies did not get back to me. Other agencies got back to me but were not able to accommodate my request. Keep reaching out! Keep offering creative solutions! I ended up securing multiple virtual partnerships, coupled with Moodle activities, which made for a “choose your own placement” type of feel.
These tips may not transfer to all situations but I encourage everyone to stay hopeful and cultivate flexibility.