Now that educators and students have worked from home for a few months, the focus is shifting to planning for summer and fall semesters. Some colleges like Boston, Purdue, and Brown Universities, discussed plans to carefully reopen this fall, while others have delayed welcoming students back to campus until 2021. Many organizations are also taking a “wait and see” approach until at least June 2020 before choosing a back-to-campus date.
Regardless of the opening date, social distancing and full-time online learning will be long-term, if not permanent, solutions that began as responses to COVID-19. After making the best of a sudden, fully-remote learning experience, administrators can now reassess their digital classroom needs. You can evaluate technology for continued use to deliver effective online education. Here’s a look at how new and upgraded collaboration solutions launched during the COVID-19 response can produce positive long-term effects.
Schools and students that had a learning curve, or still need to deliver interactive classes such as labs, may need to play catch-up. The summer semester could be used to bridge this gap to prepare students for the fall semester. Educators may return to campus over the summer months, using collaboration technology solutions such as lecture capture carts to deliver digital classes to remote students. Helping online learners stay current with coursework can help retain students into the fall semester.
Remote collaboration solutions move on campus
The time spent learning to use new collaboration software at home can produce a return when your students are back on campus as well. Implemented solutions such as Microsoft Teams can:
- Augment in-person classes by facilitating communication, group projects, and class assignments
- Increase student participation beyond classroom hours
- Save time for teachers and students with online delivery of assignments, class notes, and research papers
- Allow students to work together anytime, anywhere, even when social distancing requirements keep them from gathering in groups
Here’s a video that shares Microsoft Teams best practices for educators:
Upgraded Collaboration Tech Cleaning and Sanitizing Processes
COVID-19 made us aware of how much we touch things like our phones, remote controls, and touch screens. Part of the pandemic response was for everyone to upgrade their cleaning habits. Deep cleaning and sanitizing routines should extend to shared collaboration tech in classrooms and conference spaces too. Check out detailed cleaning tips from AVI-SPL and device manufacturers in this blog.
Communicating your new cleaning regimen to new and returning students can help them feel more at ease when visiting or moving into dorms.
Enhance Existing Online Learning Programs
Many schools offered online learning programs before COVID-19. Lessons learned from suddenly delivering every class online can be used to enhance legacy virtual programs. Several solutions and apps may have been used to deliver courses immediately. Take the time now to review feedback from educators and students.
Discuss what worked well, and which solutions posed the most challenges. Create a list of technology best practices and roll them out across your online learning curriculum.
Boost fiscal recovery
COVID-19’s financial toll on higher ed organizations is estimated in millions of dollars per school. Consider that leveraging collaboration tech to offer additional virtual classes could play a role in colleges’ economic recovery. If your school hasn’t explored offering full-time online degree programs, consider doing it now. Online classes expand enrollment options for more students since:
- Geography is no longer a barrier to attend classes
- Online learning is often a more affordable option than living on campus
- Virtual courses offer scheduling flexibility, which helps working students, and those with families, attend more classes
Accept international students now
International students can benefit from your virtual classrooms too. Students traveling from abroad to move on campuses this fall could face challenges if embassies and consulates remain closed for an extended period, or your school will not reopen this year.
Instead of losing these students and tuition revenue, open your virtual classrooms as a temporary solution. Online courses could bridge the gap between the start of the semester, and the point when students from other countries can safely join school populations.
While the financial toll is extensive, and students lost the intimate experience of living and attending classes on campus, online learning solutions have allowed colleges to deliver quality education during these unprecedented times. Leverage the investment your school made in online learning. Review ongoing virtual classroom opportunities to drive additional enrollment and revenue now.