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The Impacts of Distance Learning on Higher Education

June 16, 2020

It doesn’t come as a surprise to many that COVID-19 has had a lasting impact on higher education. Once COVID-19 started spreading at an alarming rate, colleges and universities began to implement their plans on how they would successfully finish the semester, by keeping students, faculty, and staff safe. On June 11th, Elevate’s President Aakash Patel moderated a panel at the Synapse Converge virtual conference 2020. The topic of the panel was The Impacts of Distance Learning on Higher Education, with speakers Dr. Tonjua Williams, Moez Limayem, Saif Ishoof, and Matt Bohm. The discussion that took place hit home for anyone who may be connected to higher education, and offered insight on what can be done not only to help, but to start innovating the future of education— both online, and face-to-face.

It became quite clear that the timing of COVID-19 was close to, if not right after or during higher education’s annual Spring Break. Faculty and staff saw the rising concern for the virus worldwide, and took the actions necessary to protect everyone, while still offering a quality education to its students. Problems such as access to internet and a laptop had to be addressed, as well as maintaining students’ engagement throughout the rest of the semester with new online platforms.

Interestingly enough, many have had the impression that with education moving online, the costs for colleges and universities would decrease substantially without having students living on campus. What many do not realize, is that the new programs that many universities and colleges had to purchase involved licensing and large upfront costs, posing a predicament to some. With fundraising being impacted, schools had to find a new way to raise money to help students, faculty, staff, and the education being given.

Fundraising activities such as donors were essential throughout the pandemic, and will continue to be a vital source of fundraising for higher education. A large portion of the money raised from donors has gone right back to students, with different programs implemented to give students the supplies they need while working remotely. In addition, staff and faculty who were impacted by the pandemic were also given aid as well, before the Cares Act even took place.

The question has been burning in everyone’s minds— what about the fall. Many schools plan to re-open in the fall, but at a much lower capacity, and will be following all guidelines given by the state, country, and CDC. It will not be uncommon to see more online classes being offered going forward, and will certainly be more attractive as COVID-19 remains a prevalent danger in the world. Plans for the fall remain fluid, and can/will change based on the state mandates and updates that will be provided in the following months.

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This post was written by Elevate, Inc.

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