June 19, 2023

Why Choose Virtual Film School Canada? Exploring the Benefits of Practical Education

By Olivia Condlln-Wilby

For generations, young people were expected to follow a particular path: finish high school, attend college or university, find a stable job, and work there until retirement. But nowadays, students of all ages and walks of life are carving a new path, choosing to build their knowledge through lived experience as much as through lessons in a classroom. At the same time, the options for higher education and professional development have expanded in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as online and hybrid programs have become increasingly prevalent and normalized as valid post-secondary options. It is now easier than ever for students to find an innovative, creative, and flexible approach to learning - such as the programs offered by Virtual Film School Canada (VFSC).

People are realizing that theory only gets you so far in life. At some point, you need practical, hands-on experience in the real world to ensure that you’re prepared for the next step in your personal and professional journey. At Virtual Film School Canada, students receive a high-quality experiential education that focuses on building practical skills and offering students a window into the world of filmmaking - not just through theory, but hands-on practice. For those considering taking a course at VFSC, let’s review why this approach is beneficial to you and your film career aspirations.

  1. Connect your learning to the real world

Most people have found themselves, at one time or another, sitting in a classroom wondering, “Why does this matter?” or “How will I use this stuff in real life?” As a tutor for secondary and post-secondary students, I saw students struggle when they couldn’t understand why their English homework or final essay really mattered for the future. I would see them become discouraged - asking, “What’s the point?” and tuning out of their lessons.

Like them, you may struggle to understand how the theories and concepts you read about in a textbook will benefit you beyond the confines of the classroom. After you pass your final exams, when (and why, and how) will you use this information again? It’s generally more difficult to pay attention and stay committed to your studies if you can’t answer this question. Indeed, research shows that students tend to become bored, demotivated, and dissatisfied when they do not feel engaged in their learning; they are more likely to drop out of school or at least express negative attitudes about their post-secondary experience.

On the other hand, students who participate in hands-on, experiential education tend to be more motivated and develop stronger creative thinking and problem-solving skills. Experiential learning gives students the opportunity to focus on the subjects that matter to them and build knowledge that they will actually use in the future. If you have a project you want to work on (or a proposal for one that is currently gathering dust in a drawer somewhere), this educational pathway could allow you to finally get started and put your work out there rather than waiting another three or four years to launch your career.

At Virtual Film School Canada, courses are designed to maximize student engagement and provide plenty of opportunities for developing your creative potential. Students don’t have to question the point of their assignments or whether their program will help them in the future. The hands-on courses allow students to engage directly in the type of work they want to be doing rather than learning second-hand from a textbook or classroom lecture. For example, you could create your own web series pilot in New Media Writing I: Writing a Digital Series Pilot or master the production process in New Media Pre-Production and Production. Whether you’re interested in storytelling, writing, production, or another area of media entirely, VFSC provides a high-quality educational experience that will help you build the skills you need for a successful career - well beyond the end of your program.

  1. Accelerate your learning

No amount of classroom learning can compensate for real-world experience. That’s not just my opinion - it’s backed up by research from experts in education and productivity. Their studies show that experiential learning helps you acquire new knowledge and skills more quickly and easily, as well as making the overall experience more pleasant for students.

When I was studying as an undergraduate, the best education I received was from experiential courses called “practicums” (akin to a co-op placement or an internship). In these courses, I spent 12 weeks at a time in a different agency or organization, slowly figuring out how all the theory I had learned in the classroom could apply in real life. Initially, I felt extremely out of my depth. How could I possibly manage all these new tasks when I had never encountered them outside the pages of a textbook? I did not feel confident or adequately prepared.

But just as the research suggests, I learned quickly and easily on the job. With each day, I had another opportunity to connect my learning to real challenges and see the outcomes of my decision-making right away. I could identify where my strengths fit best in the professional world; resumé buzzwords like “strong communication skills” and “highly organized” suddenly had very true meanings. With each practicum, I cultivated a better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and my goals for the future. Basic questions like, “What kind of work environment do I enjoy the most?” and “How do I prefer to be managed?” could be answered, as could more serious ones, like “What do I want to do with my life after my degree?” Without having practical experience in the workforce, I’m not sure I would’ve been able to answer this question. Only by diving in headfirst could I eventually understand myself and my future career so clearly. I probably learned more in that 12-week placement than I did in the first two-and-a-half years of my degree.

Based on my own experience, I would recommend that every student take the opportunity to participate in experiential learning.

  1. Prepare yourself for the future

As previously mentioned, experiential programs allow you to understand how to apply your learning in the real world and to build essential skills quickly and easily. But it’s also worth emphasizing that these programs give a huge boost to your resume, portfolio, and industry network.

As a career advisor, I worked with clients from all sorts of professional backgrounds, including entertainment, media, public relations, and advertising. Everyone wants to stand out, but the arts world is highly competitive, and it’s difficult to set yourself apart from the sea of candidates vying for the same career opportunities. What gives you a professional edge?

At VFSC, you can learn how to build your personal brand through courses like “Branding Development and Brand Development: Theory and Practice.” You can also learn how to write a business plan and pitch your next project to potential investors. If you’re hoping to strike out as an entrepreneur, influencer, or freelancer, these courses will give you the skills you need to flourish amid the other talent in the industry.

In addition, the experiential programs will allow you to add to multiple sections of your resume: skills, experience, education, accolades, projects…You can walk away from a course with new content for each of these headings. While some graduates finish a four-year program with just a degree, you could market yourself as having additional credentials and a plethora of other assets, even if you just take one or two courses.

The Benefits are Endless

In short, experiential learning has key benefits for your education and career. You can focus on the subjects you care about and build new skills through hands-on experiences rather than spending time on lectures, essays, and textbooks that don’t even relate to your desired career path. You can add to your resume and portfolio with the help of experts in film and media and walk away with a strong sense of accomplishment (and a few more completed projects). For more information, check out the Virtual Film School Canada website.

About Olivia

Olivia Condlln-Wilby is a freelance content writer with a background in social work and education. She writes articles for secondary and post-secondary students across Canada, focusing on academic and professional development. After completing her Master of Education at the University of Toronto, she hopes to leverage her background in student services and career consulting to help young people identify the right pathway for them and thrive in their post-secondary environment. For more information, check out her LinkedIn profile.

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