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Guest Writer: Valerie Brock
The COVID19 disease has made a significant impact on higher education. This pandemic outbreak has forced the education system to become more reliant on virtual technology. Classrooms without walls is a norm throughout the world. Despite the drastic changes during this period, the professors were able to make some remarkable accomplishments. They had the opportunity to gain professional development in the convenience of their home without the hassle of traveling and extra expenses. Some organizations were thoughtful enough to offer free professional development opportunities.
Guest speakers were able to remote in through Zoom to speak to students about various topics. Students appeared to be engaged and asked questions as they connected with professionals in the field. The was an opportunity to enhance learning through a remote environment.
Many students faced financial challenges and lacked funds in purchasing required textbooks for their courses. But, through grant monies, the students were able to receive digital ebooks for their online courses in their program major.
Faculty conducted virtual town hall meetings to inform students of program updates and expectations. This online audience was an excellent communicational tool that allowed students to ask questions and gain important information. Resultantly, students became more engaged in the program and built a relationship with their professors. Since then, students have continued to communicate with their professors through email and virtual meetings.
Some students encountered various challenges with remote learning. One of the issues pertains to technology. Some students did not own a computer. Through the help of the University, some were able to access computers. Students also gain assistance from their community. Neighbors shared their wifi so students could complete their schoolwork. Churches also donated computers and laptops to ensure students do well in school. The statement, “It takes a village to raise a child.” is an African proverb that is so true.
Faculty spent many hours conducting online meetings to retain students and keep them engaged in their online coursework. Online learning is not for everyone; some students are struggling to adapt. Also, students were faced with distractions while learning online. Examples of some cases are 1) illness with the Coronavirus; 2) Parents having to assist their children with academic school work at home; 3) the living environment is not suitable for learning nor studying; and more. Because of cases as these mentioned, and more, faculty have dedicated their time and efforts to ensure students’ progress in their academic performance.
Anticipated academic events will continue despite the pandemic. Post-secondary academic programs will continue its mission to educate and serve students. Meanwhile, events such as workshops will be conducted as usual for students as faculty prepare them for national exams and the workforce.
What challenges remain ahead for 2021? To name a few, some students will still encounter technical issues. Faculty will continue to put forth efforts to retain students and develop strategies to keep them engaged in the coursework. The search for grants will continue to purchase various resources to assist students with financial issues during this economic crisis. With assurance, these issues will eventually subside as the economy gets back on its feet and move forward.