Spotlight on Access: Supporting Students Remotely in a Time of Campus Closures

Tl;dr: This article focuses on the asynchronous delivery of student services through interactive video to address concerns over equity and access in an online learning environment.

The continuation of college and university campus closures has raised concerns around student services and equitable access for a growing number of institutions. Although educational institutions have been trying to maintain an educational standard and maintenance of coursework, the reality of open access to technology and resources is becoming a concern that is increasingly difficult to dismiss. Many learners are in homes where access to WiFi and devices is made more difficult by the number of individuals accessing those tools in the same home. The expectation that a learner will attend services and classes at designated times not only challenges the equitable values that institutions abide by but may, as a result, take access away from the learners who need it most.

This article focuses on some of the applications of interactive video for the purposes of student services and links to some of PlayPosit’s pre-existing resources.

First-Year Orientation

First-year Orientation forms a foundation for the student experience at college -- students connect with each other, meet professors, connect with their chosen college/university during this pivotal time period. The critical nature of this experience means that simply skipping it because of COVID or doing something that does not foster those relationships will not only be a disservice to the student but also can bear negative consequences for the college itself. Institutions recognize that the introduction to higher education is often intimidating and challenging for learners, many of whom will be living alone for the first time and navigating the challenges of adult life without the immediate support of established relationships.

While this can be a seemingly easy service to remove or dial back at a time when learners are not attending physical classes and labs, the loss of access to valuable content brings about the risk of negative consequences for many learners. The utilization of interactive video with embedded comprehension checks allows for learners to be jumped back if they do not correctly identify the information that is being presented to them, ensuring that they are well aware of the services and resources that they have access to throughout the year (templates let you do this in minutes). Additionally, monitoring provides assurance that learners are actively engaging instead of passively watching content in a more traditional video format. 

We have previously written about similar applications where it is important to ensure that learners have properly comprehended the information that has been shared with them in our blog posts on First-Year Experience courses and interactive syllabi

Career Readiness 

Quality career preparation is a top priority for higher ed institutions. Perhaps now more than ever, young adults are entering a challenging workforce filled with unemployment and competition from individuals who have more experience. While universities have prepared learners with the theory and traditional knowledge necessary to begin their intended career, the practical skills associated with seeking employment are equally important. However, ensuring that learners are actively engaged in career readiness content is often challenging. Instructors have the ability to make interactive video even more dynamic by encouraging the use of practical skills. Utilization of the in-player recorder creates opportunity to practice interview skills and discussion forums could be used to refine professional email etiquette.  

We have previously highlighted how some of our longstanding partners have helped address topics such as increasing employability and building leadership skills. Preparing young adults with the skills necessary to present themselves as professional, reliable, and driven allows institutions to support their learners beyond the classroom and well into their professional lives. 

Health & Wellbeing

The need for health and wellbeing services does not disappear when learners are taking their courses online. Social isolation can have negative impacts on mental health for many individuals, particularly around the added stress of having to adjust to a new way of learning. Colleges and universities need to continue to provide resources around coping mechanisms and understanding when it is necessary to seek further help. Additionally, increased stress levels leave many learners at an increased risk of alcohol and drug abuse, making the need for alcohol and drug awareness education imperative. 

Through interactive video, learners are continuously engaged with the content, combating concerns that learners might dismiss important information out of apathy or anxiety. Important checks can be put into place throughout the content to help learners communicate how they’re feeling and any concerns that they may have over their mental health, giving the institution’s healthcare professionals the ability to reach out and intervene when necessary. Learn more about PlayPosit’s monitoring capabilities and other analytics applications

Diversity & Inclusion

One standard that is practiced on campuses, but which gets lost in the move to remote teaching and learning, is the importance of diversity and inclusion. The type of problems students face will change in this new environment, but there is still a vital need for different types of diversity and inclusion support.

We have previously discussed the value of teaching empathy in a world that is increasingly diverse and interconnected, but as we’re all faced with new challenges surrounding learning and working from home, access to technology, social isolation, and so much more, we thought that it might be particularly valuable to revisit the topic. In addition to these ongoing considerations, we also need to face the ways in which some long-standing problems might be evolving. The increased risk of cyberbullying during times of high stress and social isolation means that there is an even greater need for this content along with greater oversight and accountability.   

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