As COVID-19 forces us to adjust to a new normal, people everywhere are looking for ways to turn hard times into opportunity. Many are considering either enrolling in college or looking for ways to continue their college program online, but worry about lack of experience with virtual learning.
According to Purdue University, online learners often do not have digital literacy, technology, motivation and/or time management skills enough to manage college-level coursework. During quarantine, those who find themselves suddenly able to go back to college may find the prospect of online learning without help too daunting, while others need options that can work with their schedules.
To address these fears, it is important for colleges and universities to offer instructional options and robust technical support to their students. At Lansing Community College (LCC), user-friendly online classes combine with student success-driven academic and technical coaching to meet the diverse needs of learners.
“At LCC, we have two different types of online course students can sign up for,” explained LCC Provost Sally Welsh. “The first is ‘traditional online,’ which does not have any set class time or requirement for students to meet with faculty, and the second type is what we call ‘real-time online,’ which mimics a typical face-to-face course.”
This innovative approach guarantees LCC can continue to serve its existing students while also offering an alternative pathway for new students otherwise interrupted by COVID-19. By creating two online options – traditional and real-time online – LCC fits for those who thrive in a traditional environment and those who need more agile scheduling.
“The traditional online option allows students to do their course work when convenient,” Welsh continued. “This is particularly helpful when students have children or family at home, or they need to work from home. With real-time online, we mimic what goes on in a face-to-face course. Students meet at a specific time on a specific day for their course, and the instructor is available to answer questions, just like an in person class.”
The real-time online option was developed with those who are unfamiliar with online learning specifically in mind. This interactive option, together with LCC’s personalized academic support and 24/7 online tutoring, makes virtual college accessible to even the most unfamiliar student.
“Everything is going well so far,” said LCC provost Sally Welch. “One of our biggest unknowns was the digital capacity of our students; to address shortfalls, we have loaned more than 700 laptops to students and have provided certain faculty with mobile hotspots.”
Summer and fall registration at LCC is happening now, and all-online summer classes begin the week of June 1. Fall online and hybrid courses begin August 20. Quickly reorganizing against COVID-19 and focused efforts to optimize online learning have LCC ready to work for a reenergized Lansing. The college plans to resume hands-on, face-to-face for many programs – such as EMS/paramedic, welding and aviation – in late fall 2020.
“We have adapted our online course offerings to fit with how students like to learn so that students can continue on their educational journey,” Welsh said. “The student experience here will be the same [for students] as if they were on campus, just in a virtual world. This is helpful those who haven’t learned online before.”