Contact North holds open house at Gore Bay location

GORE BAY—As a way of promoting its new and improved Gore Bay online learning centre, and the general public on the services it can provide, Contact North representatives held an open house at its West End location last week.

“Contact North has had offices on Manitoulin for about 25 years with centres in M’Chigeeng and Wikwemikong but it seems our location in Gore Bay is not as well known, and what we can offer,” said Gail Cook, online learning recruitment officer at the open house held on August 29. “I have been here as of April 1 with other staff members being hired and new furniture installed here. Our staff members were out and about last week handing out posters and information locally and since then our phones have been ringing off the hook.”

“No one locally can provide the access to education and training resources that we can,” said Ms. Cook.

Contact North’s mandate is to provide flexible, affordable, equitable access to education and training.

“We are basically an education matchmaker in that what we provide is discovering an individual’s education needs in the community and matching them up to the resources they need,” said Ms. Cook. She explained Contact North partners with Ontario’s 24 public colleges, 22 public universities and 250 literacy and basic skills and training providers to help four million Ontarians living in 600 small, rural, remote, aboriginal and Francophone communities-access posts-secondary education and training programs and course offered and taught by these education and training providers without leaving their community.

For example, you can get an Ontario college certificate or diploma, a university degree, a high school diploma or equivalency, literacy and basic skills training, first step, post secondary readiness and job readiness courses, registration assistance and much more all online and with support from the local Contact North centre staff.

“We also have access to free training of businesses, and entrepreneurs,” said Ms. Cook. “By providing all these services here in the community it means local residents don’t have to travel to pursue their education or training.”

There are 112 local online learning centres in communities across the province where Ontarians can use web conferencing, videoconferencing, and audio-conference distance learning platforms to connect to, and participate in, their programs and courses offered and taught by the colleges, universities and literacy and basic skills and training providers. They can use computer work stations and high-speed Internet access to complete their fully online courses; get information on available programs and courses from the colleges, get help with the registration process and writing their supervised exams and tests.

Heather Campbell, communications coordinator, noted that as well as knowledgeable, local staff available, studyonline.ca provides 24/7 access to information on available online and distance programs and courses offered by Ontario’s colleges, universities, literacy and basic skills and training providers and available student support services. Studyonline.ca supported 130,000 visits in 2014.

The e-channel portal provides 24/7 access to online literacy and basic skills courses for students and instructors while teachonline.ca provides 24/7 access for faculty and instructors for resources, latest information on new technology and developments in online and distance learning.

The student information hotline provides access for Ontarians to connect live via phone (1-877-999-9149), email or chat with staff who provide information on online and distance programs and courses, other student services, and assistance with the registration process.

“One of the beautiful things about what we can provide in terms of resources is flexibility, with lots of platforms on how we can deliver what the client wants,” said Ms. Cook. “When a client comes in we ask what they are looking for, what time commitment they have, and if they want full or part time courses or training. Even on weekends and evenings.”

“We work with a  lot of seniors as well,” said Ms. Cook. “We have been able to provide training on how to use a computer, for instance.”

The Contact North centre in Gore Bay is located on 70 Meredith Street in the Gore Bay Medical Building (rear entrance).