Colleges to offer joint business program

The Fort Frances campus of Confederation College and Rainy River Community College over in International Falls have banded together to offer a new International Business program this fall through a wireless Internet television (ITV) link.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” said Dick Trivers, interim manager of the local Confederation College campus. “This is the first time we’ve done it high-tech.”
An international business program was offered a number of years ago through both colleges, but without the Internet link—meaning students on both sides of the river could not be learning together.
“The beautiful part is it is available to students on both sides of the border,” Trivers noted.
With the ITV link, students on both sides of the river will participate in the lesson simultaneously while the instructor may be located at either college—or even in a third location.
Trivers said they’re hoping the main campus in Thunder Bay also will get connected, so they can take advantage of the faculty there.
The Thunder Bay campus already offers an international business program, which is in high demand.
“What’s unique about this is the wireless connection,” said RRCC provost Tom Weegar.
Generally, ITV connections are not wireless, but this connection consists of “a radio beam that bounces off the water tower.”
“It’s new technology based out of Toronto,” he noted.
The ITV link will mean the colleges here can pool their resources. “If we have five students enrolled on each side, neither one of us have enough students to run a course,” Trivers noted.
But if the five students on each side of the border are put in one class, with one instructor instead of two, the program becomes feasible.
Both Trivers and Weegar also are hoping to attract more students with the program. “In Minnesota, there’s not a lot of international business programs,” Weegar noted. “This is a very strong program for Confederation College.”
The program in Thunder Bay includes a work placement in the last semester, and some students have been doing their placement outside of Canada.
Trivers said he hopes they can offer the same thing here.
Six students already have expressed an interest in the two-year program—before either college even has begun advertising it.
As an international business program, the courses will focus on issues like importing and exporting, and international legislation as it applies to business.
“The emphasis is on the global economy in all the courses,” Trivers explained.
Students will learn about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), as well as doing business with European interests.
“What we’re really excited about is the employability of the students. They’ll have a really strong grounding in international business,” Weegar said.
Trivers said Confederation College has offered distance education courses in the past, but they always have originated in larger cities.
“We’re kind of at the end of the trail geographically, so to offer an international business course in a remote area is pretty exciting,” he enthused.