Compared to most Ontario hunter education instructors, I am a newbie, only having taught the program for five years.
But in that time, I have learned a lot about people, about their learning needs and how to adapt my teaching to students of varying ages and experiences. When COVID-19 hit, all in-person courses were halted in accordance with provincial safety guidelines and in order to help fill the gap and continue with training new hunters, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry announced that they would offer an online-only version of the Ontario Hunter Education.
Despite the change, there was still a role for instructors like me to participate, as we were to provide virtual exams for the students once they successfully completed the online learning. To date, more than 3,650 students have been through the online course, and of the 170 active instructors in Ontario, 55 of us are doing virtual exams. We connect with the students using various video formats — Facebook Messenger Video, Skype, FaceTime and Zoom to name a few and conduct the exam by reading the questions and multiple-choice options. For most folks, the exam takes just over an hour to complete and the students get their results and electronic copy of their exam report instantly. The online course and virtual exam has been a great opportunity to get people trained and out hunting this year.
Having said that, it isn’t the preferred way for everyone to learn or even teach. Sometimes there are hiccups along the way, and using another jurisdiction’s (Saskatchewan) online course temporarily isn’t ideal. Ontario is in the process of developing their own online course and at least we are finding a way to overcome the challenges of a global pandemic to keep training the next generation of Ontario hunters. If you or someone you know is considering taking the online course, visit ohep.net for details.
as published in the Jan/Feb edition of Ontario OUT of DOORS Magazine.