Algoma U students off to Cuba
History course showcases benefits of 'block' learning
ST. THOMAS, ON (February 12, 2013) - Students at Algoma University at St. Thomas are getting ready to take their second course of the winter term - by packing their bags for Cuba.
Twenty students and two chaperones will be getting out of the classroom for the next two weeks for an immersive and intensive learning experience.
The students depart from Toronto on February 13, and arrive on the peninsula of Varadero that evening.
From their accommodations at Varadero, the students, along with instructor Dr. Bill Newbigging, will travel extensively throughout Cuba.
The course they will be taking is History 2896, Colony to Communist Nation: Cuba - Case Study in Colonialism, and excursions will include learning experiences at the reconstructed Taino Indian village at Laguna del Tesoro, the Bay of Pigs battle sites (including the Old Sugar Refinery where Fidel Castro had his headquarters during the invasion), historical site seeing in Havana, and many other exciting learning excursions.
While in Cuba, the students (when not studying) will taste authentic Cuban cuisine, relax at beautiful Caribbean beaches [Varadero beach shown], and perhaps even refine their Spanish language skills.
Dr. Newbigging has taken undergraduates to Cuba before, but never as a class.
"The students I've taken in the past have all enjoyed the experience, but I'm looking forward to bringing that cultural context into the classroom through experiential learning," he said.
The experience is made possible by the innovative style of program delivery in place at Algoma University at St. Thomas.
Referred to as the "Block Model", or "One Course at a Time", the model reduces a 12-week-long university term, where students study up to five subjects simultaneously, to a series of three week "blocks", where students take a single course at a time.
Upon completing one block, the students' progress to the next block, and so on.
One of the most exciting and important advantages of this type of program is the opportunity it affords for truly immersive study, outside of the conventional classroom.
"When a student is studying five classes at once, they are locked into a pretty tight routine and schedule that doesn't allow for much flexibility," says Brock Olive, operations director of Extension Programming at Algoma University. "The 'block' model allows students to focus on a single course for a short period of time, intensifying the learning experience, and allows for the flexibility of teaching that course anywhere in the world."
First-year Algoma University at St. Thomas student Alexandria DeVries is very excited about the upcoming trip.
"It is an amazing opportunity, being able to study in Cuba, and learn about its history, people and culture," she said. "This is an invaluable educational experience that I am sure I will never forget."
About Algoma University
Algoma University offers a wide variety of liberal arts and sciences degree options including programs in psychology, computer science, business administration, fine arts, community economic & social development, and biology in Sault Ste. Marie, Brampton, Timmins and St. Thomas.
As a partner with Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig, Algoma U is committed to respecting Anishinaabe knowledge and culture.
Algoma University has launched its Essential Elements Campaign to expand its campus and offer more scholarships and awards to students.
To learn more, visit here.