Colleges in the time of COVID-19
Repercussions of the COVID-19 virus
The new coronavirus has darkened the doorways of all sectors of society across the globe in a multitude of ways, but people are hopeful that normalcy is on the horizon. Individuals and businesses face the challenges of migrating from virtual to on-site work and, eventually, picking up where they left off with projects, travel, marketing, and service delivery. But for college students, the poignancy is that picking up where they left off may not necessarily be feasible. The impact runs the spectrum of derailed progression toward educational and career goals, missed ceremonial milestones, debates over grades versus pass/fail and disruptions in family economics that render college classes prohibitive. Not to be minimized is also the matter of irreconcilable differences of an unequal playing field in a home-based environment in terms of computer capacity, internet connectivity and physical settings that may or may not be conducive to learning.
Virtual alternatives during the pandemic
Recognizing there are challenges, students and educational institutions should be applauded for their efforts to implement alternatives like online learning college classes and virtual meetings with Zoom. In the early years of online learning, some dismissed distance college classes as inferior to conventional college classes. While screening candidates, recruiters notoriously frowned upon online learning in comparison to on-campus degrees. Also, many students missed the social interaction; hence, one of the reasons for the increasing popularity of Zoom. Though Zoom was originally developed for the business community, Zoom has since been embraced by individuals and schools to interact and exchange information during the practice of social distancing. The Zoom toolkit includes virtual meetings, video webinars, virtual conference rooms, phone connection and chat.
Leveraging technology with online learning college classes
Long before the fallout of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, online learning was an option offered by many institutions for enrichment courses as well as educational credit for college classes. During the shutdown, schools were able to leverage this capacity for Pre-K through post-graduate levels. By the time the World Health Organization described the coronavirus outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2020, online learning had already gained traction as an accepted form of virtual learning.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the proportion of students in the United States enrolled in some distance education classes between 2018 and 2019 was 18.4%, up from 13.6% in 2013 to 2014.
Adapting to a new way of learning
Life with nonexistent technology during pandemics that predated COVID-19 is difficult to imagine in this modern-day era. Utilization of remote auxiliaries like Zoom for virtual contact and online learning in lieu of on-site college classes has been paramount. In addition to Zoom and other technologies, credit is due to the resilience, tenacity and optimism of
students and educators. These attributes contribute to the overarching factors of survival that the next generation will learn about in their college history books.