Expanding Virtual Student Services to Achieve Digital Inclusion
With modernized infrastructure, NCCU could provide good education experiences and support services for their online students. NCCU Online makes it easy for remote learners to access virtual tutoring services, career services, accessibility services and counseling.
NCCU’s office of e-learning works closely with departments such as the office of student accessibility services to ensure all online students — especially first-generation students and students with disabilities — have access to a strong support network online.
“At NCCU, it has been a privilege and a pleasure to see the creative ways that my colleagues have been reimagining the online space to make sure all students feel they are valued members of this community,” Brooks says.
A virtual career services unit also gives online students a chance to participate in professional development. “Students can work on resume writing. They can practice interview skills via Zoom. And this is a service that many of our on-campus students can take advantage of too, since a lot of work is happening virtually,” she said.
Her office is also working closely with the LGBTA Resource Center, the Women’s Center and the Men’s Achievement Center to avoid excluding or creating obstacles for those online learners.
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Online Students Offer an Untapped Market
By offering strong online courses and support services, NCCU experienced an enrollment increase in 2021. For example, NCCU was able to re-enroll many military students who had to drop out for active service.
“We have many students who have previously enrolled in NCCU who find themselves transitioning throughout the country or throughout the world,” Brooks says. “So, knowing that they are still able to engage, still be a part of the Eagle family and be able to take a part in this high-quality education that we offer is so heartwarming.”
Above all, Brooks says, the key to supporting exclusively online students is to ensure their voices are heard. “We bring them to the table and we really encourage them to help us consider what we might be missing, what we might be lacking,” she says. “The work that we do is meant to provide our students with successful learning experiences, giving them pathways to meet the goals that they set for themselves.”