In the last few years, American Public University System (APUS) has begun a unique initiative of hosting online, live-streamed debates. In those contests, faculty members spar on important and controversial issues, including technology threats, domestic and foreign policy issues, and human rights concerns.
Just before traditional campuses sent all of their faculty and students home and transitioned courses to some form of online instruction for the rest of the spring semester, I finished reading Joshua Kim’s and Edward Maloney’s new book, Learning Innovation and the Future of Higher Education. The authors teach and work at traditional universities (Dartmouth and Georgetown) and wrote the book to discuss ways that colleges and universities can better align teaching practices with the science of learning, given the rising cost of education for students and the financial pressures on colleges. Given the acceleration of financial pressures on colleges and their temporary migration to online courses, I have a feeling that the authors have been too busy for a road show to promote their book.
In a recently published article, Wall Street Journal reporters Dana Mattioli and Konrad Putzier ask the question, “When It’s Time to Go Back to the Office, Will It Still Be There?” Mattioli and Putzier state that because of the coronavirus pandemic, there will likely be fewer offices in the center of big cities. Companies will build hybrid schedules that will allow workers to stay home part of the week to free up space for social distancing, and smaller satellite offices will pop up in less-expensive suburbs as the workforce becomes less centralized.
As many of you know, American Public University System (APUS) has always operated online through American Military University and American Public University. Our first class of 22 graduate students started in January 1993 and since then, we’ve grown to 82,000+ students with nearly 100,000 alumni.
Inside Higher Ed’s Rick Seltzer writes about two initiatives related to measuring institutional financial health. Mr. Seltzer reports that the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) voted to continue to use the federal financial composite scores as the primary factor for evaluating whether or not institutions are eligible to be members.
The month of March was not a good month for higher education. With the national, state, and local social distancing recommendations, college leaders recognized that college campuses had to be closed. Within two weeks, almost all of our colleges and universities transitioned to online classes with students attending classes remotely from home, their off-campus apartments, or in a few cases, from their dormitories.
I’ve worked hard during the “work remote, shelter at home” period to continue my routines and break the gap between work and non-work activities, in order to keep from being bored and going stir-crazy. Everything was going according to my never-experienced, work-from-home plan.
A friend of mine owns a restaurant that closed after the governor of Maryland ordered non-essential businesses to close and for no one to assemble in groups of more than 10 people. His situation is not unique: in any city or state with similar emergency regulations, the only restaurants open provide carryout. Because of our friendship and my background in finance, he asked me if I would help him build a set of projections to reflect the restart of his business. Building the spreadsheet was not difficult, since he had detailed historical financials by month going back years. The difficult part was dealing with the uncertainty of when the business would be allowed to reopen.
Nationwide, all aspects of higher education were forced to quickly adapt to the deep and widespread changes necessitated by mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic. While the movement to work from home has impacted all of us differently, I'm proud of what we have collectively accomplished at American Public University System and in higher education as a whole. By making the decision to "social distance" and then "work remotely," I believe we minimized the potential spread of the virus to all of us.
In the second part of this blog interview, Dr. Karan Powell and Father Malachi further explain Saint Francis University's conversion to an online learning format.