Reinforce Physical and Cloud-Based Tech to Advance Education
For any fully or partially online program to be successful, in addition to an effective pedagogy, schools must ensure that students have the necessary hardware and connectivity capabilities to access instruction and course materials.
At El Paso Community College in El Paso, Texas — which has provided remote instruction since the 1990s, initially broadcast from a TV studio and later shared via an online platform — faculty members use a variety of means to convey information, including cameras, ceiling-mounted microphones, Microsoft Teams software and other classroom tech, says Marco Fernandez, interim associate vice president of IT.
Students at the school, which quadrupled its internet broadband capabilities during the pandemic to accommodate its burgeoning online course-related needs, can borrow Wi-Fi hotspots and Dell laptops for a semester to join class sessions remotely.
READ MORE: Maximizing Microsoft Teams for higher ed hybrid work.
Though many schools, including EPCC, may again be offering at least some onsite instruction, online course components won’t go away anytime soon. As a result, Fernandez says, IT departments will continue to play a critical role in shaping students’ educational journeys.
“Access to technology and support of technological needs is essential for strengthening student outcomes,” he says. “Higher education institutions should focus on having robust network infrastructure and internet access, including hardware and software platforms that facilitate remote learning, online resources and training opportunities for students, faculty and staff.”
Like many schools, EPCC has seen an increased demand for remote learning over the past two years, according to Associate Vice President of External Relations, Communication and Development Keri Moe, who says the pandemic helped highlight the value it can offer.
“More faculty are integrating online platforms and resources to supplement and enhance students’ learning experiences,” Moe says. “It provides expanded options that improve the way students and faculty collaborate and interact. Blended delivery allows for the use of multiple modalities, which reinforces engagement, learning and retention. Essentially, it is the best of both worlds: Students get access to materials at any time, while still experiencing the benefits of face-to-face support and instruction.”
NEXT UP: Why Portland State University is committed to hybrid learning.