Volume 91, Issue 38

Wednesday, November 5, 1997

Nip it in the bud


Course training right on track

By Jael Lodge
Gazette Staff

Train commuters in southern British Columbia now have a new way to make use of their travelling time by participating in mobile classes.

The Brain Train offers instructional courses which begin each morning as the first passengers board the train and continue until the train pulls into Vancouver.

The idea came from a social gathering, said Lynn Jest, director of continuing education at Capilano College in North Vancouver. At the launch of The West Coast Express – a new commuter train which runs from Mission B.C. into Vancouver, someone mentioned the idea of conducting classes on a train had been tried in Boston during the 1980s and this led to the pilot project of the Brain Train, Jest explained.

The challenge is having the riders on the train become familiar with what we are doing since it is a brand new idea and people are still testing it, Jest said.

Currently, the Brain Train offers non-credit general interest courses such as personal and business development classes entitled: Building Business Sales and Spanish for Travellers. Jest added the demographics on the train range from 20 to 60-year-olds and the majority of people work downtown at retail, insurance and banking companies.

"They have family and children at home and after a day of commuting and working, they don't have time to take a course at school," she said.

The program is also looking to expand not only the number of trains the courses are offered on, but the courses themselves. Some participants have asked for a course in assertiveness training, another for a power point course, she said.

Other colleges have expressed interest in the program and Capilano is currently looking for a corporate sponsor in order to install a computer lab on the trains, Jest said.

"It's been exciting and I think number one in everyone's mind is it's fun – which is what learning is all about," said Jest.

Jest said one of the hardest aspects of teaching a course on a train is getting your sea legs – being able to stand and balance as it moves. She added a 10-week session currently costs between $125 and $140 and the service has only received one complaint so far. "We're not close enough to the cappuccino bar."

Although not yet having made the move to commuter trains, Western is also trying to meet the need of part-time students through devices such as off-campus sites and mediated learning said Mark Reyner, publications and publicity officer for the faculty of part-time and continuing education. "More and more people are trying to take courses off-campus," he said.

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Copyright The Gazette 1997