Lakeland has received a $75,000 grant from the KeyBank Foundation to launch an initiative that will help students be successful in remote learning environments. Approximately 60% of the college's fall semester classes will be conducted remotely due to precautions being taken as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The "Remote Learning Concierge Program," aims to guide distance-learning students by providing a point person who they can contact about specific issues that differ from traditional, in-class learning. Online classes require that students have a specific set of skills, excellent organization, self-motivation, and a very disciplined mindset.
"We know that not all students are comfortable with online learning so we are extremely grateful for this grant to develop this program fully," said Laura Barnard, Esq., executive vice president and provost at Lakeland. "This initiative goes a step further than enrolling students in online courses and assuming they will succeed. Not only are we putting courses online so you can still continue your education during the pandemic, but we are also going to do everything we can for you to succeed in that environment."
Students who had never taken an online class and are unfamiliar with the process are more likely to participate less in class or drop out all altogether. The new concierge program aims to bridge that knowledge gap so students can gain the confidence to overcome barriers or fears blocking their way.
"In the current environment, making sure students are prepared and able to meaningfully engage in remote learning is crucial to their academic and personal success," said Timothy Burke, KeyBank Northeast Ohio president. "This funding will help Lakeland Community College continue to sustain the educational services students need as the fight against COVID-19 continues."
In addition to ensuring that students have reliable technology and internet connections, the program will provide the tools they need to navigate courses and keep them engaged in order to complete class requirements such as online classroom participation. Many remote courses hold online classroom "discussion boards" and count properly formatted and grammatically correct written expression toward the final grade. This can be a challenge for the students who struggle with appropriate online communication with peers and instructors. Many are accustomed to short, choppy phrases and typos commonly accepted with text messaging, and the expectation to always communicate using fully-formed sentences and correct spelling in a digital environment can be an overwhelming requirement not found in face-to-face classes.
"Data shows that there is often a difference between the success rates of students in the traditional classroom when compared to the success rates of remote learning students," said Barnard. "Remote learners have been less likely to reach their course completion goals but we are hoping to change that."