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Private Colleges: A Sequestered Semester - #6 in Series by Tom Kennedy, Hyatt-Fennell Executive Sear


“A jury-rig is a temporary solution created with the materials at hand. In some cases, a jury-rig may be poorly put together, but that sense isn’t part of the definition. Jury-rigs can be clever, innovative, and impressive.” —Dictionary.com

It is obvious that our colleges and universities are facing a most challenging time during the Covid19 viral attack. Resident students have been quarantined, graduations cancelled, employees told to vacate the campus. In the meantime, faculty are struggling to salvage the remaining weeks of the spring semester.

Rather than simply terminating the semester, colleges have made the choice to complete the courses using technology and eliminating classroom meetings.

How is that working?

Fortunately, many of our colleges already have the capability to offer distant learning options. Some of these options use sophisticated, highly effective learning platforms complete with faculty training, online help desk, consistent instructional design, and compliance standards.

However, a great number of our traditional faculty have never had the training or expertise to use the program tools that are required. In addition, many students have only experienced classroom-based instruction. Considering the dynamics and methodology of face-to-face delivery, the abrupt transition to distant learning presents a most challenging undertaking.

The Good News

We are admirably muddling through by the age-old “jury-rigged” approach and doing a credible job. At least, that is the consensus of an extremely small sample of college students. Six of my college student grandkids say that after a couple of weeks they are doing fine, and that their teachers are effective. My brief sample includes 2 seniors, 2 juniors, and 2 freshmen attending Regis University, Xavier University, the University of Colorado, Cloud County Community College (KS), and Eastern Arizona Community College.

Teaching and learning delivery formats include both synchronous and asynchronous, Zoom, GoogleDocs, Canvas LMS, pre-recorded lectures, power points, e-mails, chat rooms with groups, or just completing assignments in the textbooks. It’s all over the board. Many of the classes are conducted at their regular class times with roles being taken.

I was expecting some frustration from the students, but they seemed to understand the challenges facing their teachers and were appreciative of the efforts. As with the faculty, the grandkids were flexible. The only thing they missed? Seeing and being with their classmates.

by Tom Kennedy, Hyatt-Fennell Executive Search

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