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Concordia’s John Molson Executive Centre soars to online success

A shift to digital course delivery sees the aviation programs reach new heights
June 18, 2020
By Katie Malazdrewicz

Sandra Nichol: “Participants are staying 100 per cent active.” Sandra Nichol: “Participants are staying 100 per cent active.”

Universities, and the educational world in general, continue their pivot to online curriculum delivery to accommodate physical distancing measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s no small task to reimagine how tried and true structures can be rebuilt to acclimatize to a digital context, but Concordia’s John Molson Executive Centre (JMEC) has grasped this opportunity head-on.

The Airport Executive Leadership Program (AELP), a longstanding flagship for JMEC, has adapted to run fully online. Since 2010, the Airports Council International and Concordia have collaborated to design a program that gives aviation executives the opportunity to heighten their leadership and strategic management skills.

The program has been running for several years in a blended format, with participants from across Canada and the United States, as well as Europe, East Asia and Australia. But despite moving online, the AELP has remained highly experiential, with change simulation, group projects and discussion forums.

“Participants are staying 100 per cent active,” explains Sandra Nichol, executive director of JMEC.

“We have always used a change simulation that exposes participants to a year-in-the-life of team-leading change. This year, by utilizing Zoom and other technologies, participants are not missing a thing. Not only will they still have the simulation, they will also have the opportunity to work collaboratively with their international classmates on a Capstone project to tackle industry issues that are critical during this complex period.”

‘We live and practice the examples we teach’

In addition to the AELP, the executive centre also hosts regular workshops, which have been transformed into highly successful webinars, as the recent Green, Social and Sustainability Bonds webinar demonstrates. Offering the session online attracted more than 200 participants from 36 countries — a reach that a traditional in-person workshop simply could not have had. JMEC’s webinars are also currently accessible as part of Concordia’s CU at Home line-up of virtual programming and resources.

In April, instead of canceling the course outright, the International Civil Aviation Organization and JMEC also moved its program online. Traditionally a blended program (online self-paced study and two onsite weeks of curriculum), JMEC hosted their Aviation Security Professional Management Course through a virtual classroom for the first time.

The program brought together aviation security professionals from around the world for a virtual week. During that time, in addition to online lectures, the participants also used the breakout room feature of Zoom to create presentations. On the final day of the program, participant groups presented their projects to a virtual expert panel, with resounding success.

“Zoom allowed the instructors to have the groups work separately from the class and even facilitated individual meetings with one participant or another, just like would be the case in a real classroom,” says course instructor Jean-Marc Trottier. “The platform also allows instructors to better see participants’ reaction than in a real classroom.” In addition, by hosting the program online, they estimate that it saved approximately 40 days of international business travel and 150 hotel night stays.

“We work hard at training the professionals who rely on us to analyze situations and adapt accordingly in a fast-paced environment. This is true now more than ever, and we live and practice the examples we teach,” Nichol explains.

“We look forward to continuing to offer these programs in this new virtual classroom environment and to the opportunities that will continue to arise from it.”

Learn more about Concordia’s John Molson Executive Centre.



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