There are 30,000 college students in Northeast Ohio who know just how well Cuyahoga Community College responds to a crisis. They are still learning, everyday, as our nation works its way through the aftermath of this phase of the Coronavirus pandemic.
We were supposed to have 13,000 online students when Tri-C resumed classes from its spring break on Monday, March 16. But Covid-19 forced the college to move 100 percent of our learning from “seats” to “sign ons” via our classroom management systems and supportive communications software. It was a daunting challenge.
As we prepared, we were blessed to have knowledgeable leaders who literally have been through challenging times before. Our president, Dr. Alex Johnson, was chancellor at Delgado Community College in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana in 2005. About 70 percent of the college’s buildings suffered substantial damage from the hurricane.
Our administrators and faculty benefitted from a combined faculty-staff Crisis Response Plan which we crafted in 2009 — 11 years ago — as part pf preparations for the H1N1 flu. My high school speech and debate students know the mantra of P-P-P-P-P-P: Proper Practice and Preparation Promotes Perfect Performance. Having a plan, and having administrators and faculty who carried it out, was also a tremendous benefit.
Almost overnight, Tri-C went from offering 2,500 to 5,000 online classes. Our online population more than doubled to a total of 30,000 students. We greatly and quickly expanded our technological infrastructure to meet this sudden demand.
It’s not been easy. Cuyahoga Community College’s Online Learning and Technology (OLAT) team has put endless hours of preparation for this transition. Joint faculty-administration crisis teams have assisted the transformation process. We continue with weekly online meetings to improve the effectiveness of our learning, to ensure that students and faculty receive the tools and help they need to thrive, and to continuously improve how we deliver learning online.
Our faculty are now developing and posting 800 to 1,000 new videos explaining lessons each week in MediaSite alone, one of our several software packages deployed for learning. We have about 700 exams (many are final exams) going through ProctorU. We have held more than 110 faculty learning forums attended by more than 750 faculty members. Another 450 faculty members have received help from or attended virtual lessons which our Centers for Learning Excellent (CLE) Team has developed.
By many measures, we’re doing extraordinarily well at this. The organization College Consensus has ranked Tri-C as No. 25 in the nation on its list of top online programs, compared with more than 1,000 two-year schools across the U.S. User-friendliness of learning platforms and online degree offerings are some of the criteria used for the rankings.
College Consensus noted that Tri-C’s flexible program allows students “to continue working and living their busy lives” while taking classes. It also highlighted access to academic counseling and educational resources.
And there’s more. Cuyahoga Community College’s workforce division develop several short-term online training programs in the fields of information technology, health care and manufacturing. These brand new online learning programs can help NE Ohio residents build new skills while they are sheltering at home through this pandemic. Once businesses reopen and we all build to that “new normal” which is coming, these people will return to the workforce with new a new skillset, ready to thrive in the years ahead.
If you are a college student living in Northeast Ohio, you might be facing uncertainty about your higher education. Perhaps your university or college isn’t offering the courses online you need to earn your degree. Perhaps you don’t want to think about being really far from home as our nation continues grappling with the Coronavirus pandemic.
A great alternative is ready and waiting for you at Cuyahoga Community College. We’re just a few clicks away, and we’re well worth exploring as a way to ensure that your learning continues in the safety and security of your own home. Hundreds of our courses transfer to meet degree requirements at all four-year public colleges and universities in Ohio. They have already been certified as such at the Ohio Department of Higher Education.
Where to begin: www.tri-c.edu/get-started/visiting-students.html
Questions about how to register: WestStudentHelp@tri-c.edu
The general college website: www.tri-c.edu (Click on Take A Class to see a course listing)
Additionallly, You can e-mail me at email@example.com and I’ll be glad to share with you a one-page list of virtual contacts the college has prepared for all its current and prospective students.
And if you want to watch a “non professional” video which covers the benefits of taking online courses at Cuyahoga Community College this summer, click here:
I don’t know how classes will be offered in the Fall 2020 semester at college or universities in Ohio or across the U.S. No one knows that yet.
I do know this: Cuyahoga Community College is where futures begin, and we will continue to be that in any modality, whether the learning is online, in a seat in a building, or some combination in the future.
(Blog author John Kerezy is Associate Professor, media and journalism Studies, at Cuyahoga Community College)