Bayfield Design leaves Virtual High School to develop online courses

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BAYFIELD – A new business has formed out of Bayfield’s Virtual High School (VHS), strengthening the village’s reputation as a hub for online learning.

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Bayfield Design was launched in October 2019 and is helping schools, businesses and institutions move towards online learning. According to a press release, Stephen Baker, CEO and owner of VHS and Bayfield Design, saw a need for online course development, so he formed Bayfield Design last fall.

Both companies operate at 27 Main St. N. in Bayfield.

Bayfield Design Senior Director of Operations Kim Loebach from Bayfield and Director of Content Creation Jessica Bickell from Exeter spoke to The Times-Advance last week. Loebach, who along with Bickell worked at VHS for several years, explained that VHS has continued to grow over the years and has around 9,000 students. A few years ago, the company participated in a large online project for a school in the United States and created 48 online courses for Kindergarten to Grade 5, comprising eight subjects.

Around this time, their work sparked the idea of ​​dividing the business into VHS and a new business called Bayfield Design. As VHS continues its work of managing Ontario teachers, students, courses and credits, Bayfield Design is focused on content development and creative services for VHS, Virtual Elementary School and other clients.

About Bayfield Design, Loebach said, “We have all this expertise and experience on how to bring content online offline or in the classroom, how to teach online at any level, and we thought we could provide this service to customers. “

Bayfield Design is now working with several clients, including the Eastern College of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, to help them convert their classroom and conference content into an online broadcast.

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Loebach said Bayfield Design uses their creativity and instructional design experience to put content online. Bayfield Design is partnering with Kitchener software company D2L on a number of projects, and they are currently working together to create basic science and social studies content. They have also partnered to create and offer a free online course on COVID-19, a course that launched on March 23.

Bickell said Bayfield Design’s latest project is writing and developing online science courses for grades 4-8. They have just started 4th year and were working on writing lessons at the end of last week.

“We have a team of 10 writers and developers who are actively taking this course. Once we have completed the 4th year, we will go from the 5th to the 8th year, ”she said.

Alongside these course developers are two other teams from Bayfield Design – their multimedia team and their technology team.

“We’re, I think, somewhat unique in that we all design and develop our own interactive as well as multimedia elements,” Bickell said. “So that’s it, from graphics to all of our videos (and) GIFs. All the visual elements of the courses are all created by our multimedia team and the interactive elements are created by our technical team.

These can include quizzes, self-checks, and games.

Classes are designed to be in line with the assumption that there will be a teacher to assess grades and provide some support. Although online learning relies on independent learning, students can seek help from a teacher.

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Ultimately, Bickell said Bayfield Design courses can be taught to students all over the world.

Since launching about six months ago, Loebach said there have been many exciting opportunities for Bayfield Design. She said the current elementary school project will be important to the company over the next year and a half as there are new opportunities emerging. The goal is to continue to grow and expand the customer base, said Loebach.

“We were able to recruit a great team of people to come and work here. “

In addition to developing online courses, Bayfield Design has done other work such as making a video for the Bayfield and Area Chamber of Commerce that promotes Bayfield as a tourist destination in the fall.

“We believe there are many more opportunities at different levels, and we’re excited to see how the next year or two go for the chance to explore them further,” said Loebach.

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