Business continuity in higher education - Webinar Part 3

Business continuity in higher education

On April 21, over 1,000 members of the Ellucian community gathered online for “Student Well-Being in a Disruptive Time,” the third in a series of webinars focused on managing change and maintaining continuity. Here’s a quick look at the takeaways from our customer panel.

Student well-being is a top priority

Consistent communication and ongoing student services are providing much-needed support.

  • Faculty, staff, and student representatives are all essential players in student outreach.
  • Key services include online advising, tutoring, and physical and mental health programs.
  • Social media and online events are helping students stay connected.

I think the most important thing is communication to students who are understandably incredibly anxious—not just about the status of their degree, the status of their progress, the status of their academic credit, but about everything else that's happening in the world. The more we can communicate, and the more we can provide students with assurance, the better.

Mike Johnson, Chief Information Officer, Royal Holloway, University of London

Identifying and addressing student concerns

  • Unemployment, childcare needs, lack of access to technology, and food and housing insecurity will require even greater attention and resources from institutions.
  • Fatigue with intensive online engagement is a concern, since many students—like faculty and staff—are trying to balance their home lives with virtual learning.

We're trying to make sure that our community feels safe and secure as far as food and safety. We're also trying to make sure that our students continue on their path to prosperity and have a clear path to get to graduation, as some students were mere weeks away from graduating before this started, and we want to make sure that they're not unduly held up. Just trying to look at all the different avenues for our students and keep them on track.

Steven Wilson, Chief Information Officer, Hocking College

Access remains a significant obstacle for some students

Access to technology and WiFi must now be considered basic educational needs.

  • From device ownership to Internet connectivity, the playing field remains uneven.
  • Institutions are working to provide devices to students who need them.
  • While many students are at ease on digital platforms, some are uncomfortable interacting with instructors and classmates in an online format.

For the students that elected to go home, we procured laptops and Wi-Fi satellite connections to make sure that remote instruction was indeed possible. Then we made sure that access to education was extended to their homes. Student health services remain open not only for students on campus, but also available remotely. I think that's very important because we cannot underestimate how stressful this situation has been—not only for students, but also for their parents.

Klara Jelinkova, Chief Information Officer and Vice President for International Operations and IT, Rice University

The expanding role of technology

Institutions are exploring new ways to build meaningful connections with the help of technology.

  • Collaborative online platforms can help students feel more engaged.
  • The challenge is building and sustaining a lasting sense of community when students are physically apart.

All this is important, both physically and mentally. We're really focusing on ‘How do we establish a way to use technology to deepen relationships and keep people feeling connected and part of our community, so that the longer this goes on, we can stay together?’

Eric Satterly, Chief Information Officer and Vice Provost for IT, Bellarmine University

Speakers

  • Kari Branjord, Senior Vice President of Digital Transformation, Ellucian
  • Nash Hasan, Chief Information Officer, Belmont Abbey College
  • Klara Jelinkova, Chief Information Officer and Vice President for International Operations & IT, Rice University
  • Mike Johnson, Chief Information Officer, Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Shaya Phillips, Chief Information Officer, Fordham University
  • Eric Satterly, Chief Information Officer and Vice Provost for IT, Bellarmine University
  • Steven Wilson, Chief Information Officer, Hocking College
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