February 2021 Volume 4, Issue 1
Administrators say that the benefits, to students and institutions, of using synchronous learning could lead to a future of combining this type of e-learning with in-person learning at SVCC and other colleges.
SVCC President David Hellmich and Vice President of SVCC Academics & Student Services, Jon Mandrell, give some insight into these benefits and the future of synchronous learning at SVCC.
Dr. Hellmich believes that “Online/remote learning is an excellent way to expand access, especially during this pandemic.” He also said that “Sauk will continue to use remote learning and live-streaming when it works well from the point of view of students and faculty.”
Dr. Mandrell said, “Online learning is a great option for learners that are seeking a more flexible schedule or autonomous style of learning.”
Dr. Mandrell also said, “It is quite common now that most students will take an online course as part of their degree or certificate at SVCC.” In fact, there were about, “1/3 of SVCC students,” enrolled in at least one online class before the pandemic.
The Skyhawk View has been told that a recent survey conducted by SVCC found that 35% of students would consider taking a synchronous class online once normalcy has returned at the college.
According to Dr. Mandrell, the results of this survey show, “remote/synchronous learning as being another great way to serve our mission in serving all students in the community.” And they have found that “ these courses are tearing down barriers of transportation, daycare, work schedules, and life happenings that can limit a student's academic journey.”
The school is also finding that some local industries prefer these courses for employees because they are attended from the job site, which prevents any lost time on the job due to travel.
The workforce could see changes post-COVID and according to Dr. Mandrell, “... we could be looking at a new economy where more professionals work from home…” Therefore, online/synchronous learning offers an opportunity “to develop the future workforce and their technology needs if they do work from home.”
Another benefit of synchronous learning is that learning can continue on days of hazardous weather conditions where the campus has to close.
Further exploration of online learning capabilities could lead to opportunities for SVCC to connect with career experts and colleges across the world. Dr. Mandrell explains that “Should a student need another course that cannot be offered, we can always partner with other educational institutions with our new technologies [to offer said course].”
Not all courses can be taught successfully in an online setting as they can be in-person. However, Jon Mandrell mentioned, “... courses, such as Welding and Nursing, must be strongly rooted in the in-person delivery. But, there are aspects of the programs that can be delivered digitally, when necessary.”
Supporters of online learning bring up the money that the school and student could save with such a model. For Dr. Hellmich “It's not a matter of online/remote learning saving the college money; it is about expanding access for students.”
Dr. Mandrell echoed this e-learning opinion by saying, “It provides students with another opportunity to access higher education and to learn through various digital innovations.”
“Since we have so many differing learning styles, it's important that we provide all that are possible so we can maximize their learning experience,” Dr. Mandrell said about the differences in virtual and in-person learning.
Dr. Hellmich puts it this way, “Some students learn as well or better in a virtual setting; others do not learn as well.” He says that SVCC has “worked to provide face-to-face support for the latter group as much as can be done safely.”
The current plan for SVCC is to return to in-person learning in Fall 2021 and time will tell if synchronous learning has a future at SVCC and other college institutions.