NICHOLLS VIRTUAL CAMPUS REPORT

report

Nicholls Virtual Campus

In response to COVID-19 and other issues requiring campus closure, the Nicholls Virtual Campus creates a fully functioning campus in an online environment. It enables us to toggle between a face-to-face campus and a virtual campus providing continuity of operations, while maintaining the safety of the entire Nicholls community.

VISION

The vision for the Nicholls Virtual Campus is to create a future for students, faculty, staff and the community to work, learn and collaborate in a location-independent vibrant campus engaging fully with programming and experiences. We will reach further to meet the needs of our campus, the workforce, the community and the shifting demands for the future.

Major Goals

The Nicholls Virtual Campus will:

Promote a seamless student experience from recruitment to alumni engagement.

Promote digital forms as a method to continue campus processes and operations from remote locations.

Coordinate virtual conferral and other ceremonies and events during a virtual time.

Committee

The committees met multiple times per week from April 16 through May 14, 2020 to develop the plan for the Nicholls Virtual Campus.

Membership of the committees included administrative, academic and student success units on campus.

Four subcommittees were formed to represent students, faculty, administrative processes and outreach.

PROCESS

Several processes were used to build the Nicholls Virtual campus plan. It included discussions in small and large groups. Discussions and visioning included:

Anticipating future success.

Assessing the strengths and opportunities for the future along with current weaknesses and threats, taking the point of view of the primary audiences served by Nicholls.

Discussing what did and did not work during the second half of spring semester 2020 when Nicholls was required to close campus due to the global pandemic.

Considering items that should be on the website to assist faculty, staff and students to do their jobs.

Thinking beyond the website to the daily life of living and working in quarantine.

Converging the entire process on recommendations.

SWOT ANALYSIS

STRENGTHS

RESILENT

ADAPTABLE

EMBRACING

“AWAKENING”

WEAKNESSES

TECHNOLOGY
TRAINING
SECURITY
PAPER TRAILS

OPPORTUNITIES

STREAMLINE & SIMPLIFY

STUDENTS STAYING HOME

DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT

MERGE VARIOUS SYSTEMS

OFFER MORE SERVICES

THREATS

BEING UNPREPARED

DIDN’T LEARN THIS ROUND

DECLINING ENROLLMENT

LACK OF FUNDING

AUDIENCES

Current and future Nicholls students are the primary audience for the site. Additional audiences include the community, region and state, parents of summer campers, parents of current and future Nicholls students, Nicholls alumni, the Board of Regents, sister institutions, the legislative delegation and many more.

MAJOR QUESTIONS

How might we serve all Nicholls students virtually from initial interest to graduation?

How might we maneuver teaching, learning, scholarship and service in a virtual environment?

How might we engage with campus administrative functions and services virtually?

How might we promote communications and outreach connecting the culture of Nicholls to the communities we serve?

Major Recommendations:

COMMUNICATIONS

Keep the Nicholls community engaged and informed during times of class and event cancelations or campus closure.

Major Recommendations:

Services for Students

Preserve continuity of services to all prospective and current Nicholls students to ensure ongoing student success.

Major Recommendations:

Teaching, Learning and Scholarship Support

Provide ongoing support to faculty to promote the tools and trainings needed to support teaching, learning and scholarship.

Major Recommendations:

Operations

Maintain virtual continuity of operations campus-wide. Although everyone with the exception of key essential employees worked from home, the creativity of the staff enabled services, support, processing, reporting, committee meetings, departmental meetings and celebratory events to continue virtually.

Major Recommendations:

Technology

Promote specific technologies and software to support future remote environments. In a virtual environment, technology is the key to connecting with campus software, with staff and for teaching and learning. Unfortunately, access to technology is an issue for some staff and faculty as well as many students.

NEXT STEPS

To implement recommendations, the following next steps are underway:

Launch the Nicholls Virtual Campus website late summer 2020.

Purchase software that will enable the campus to maintain digital processes for signatures, routing, storage and retrieval.

Launch virtual training, guidelines, checklists and support for faculty, staff and students.

Develop a plan to support student, faculty and staff access to technology for future campus closures.

Develop a technology plan that audits existing technologies and plans for most efficient purchases and future support.

THANK YOU!

RECOMMENDATIONS

Keep the Nicholls community engaged and informed during times of class and event cancelations or campus closure.

NOW

  • Standardize Moodle pages to highlight university-wide concerns, especially as it might relate to closures.
  • Develop a virtual “Marketplace” for rapid messaging and storage.
  • Create a virtual events and activities calendar. Add virtual events to the university calendar. Color code if possible.
  • Post virtual calendar events on Moodle to aid in student communication/notifications.
  • Promote services offered virtually to students, faculty, and staff.
  • Utilize social media to engage different audiences and keep students engaged. 
  • Maintain the university spirit/traditions in the front. 
  • Ensure communications are distributed after meetings in a virtual environment that involves representation across campus.
  • Plan ongoing virtual Town Halls for faculty and staff to keep everyone connected during times of separation.

NEXT

Create an internal restricted access group for faculty and staff wellness and support.

Research Grades First, Mongoose and Google Voice to serve as an option for student communications.

LATER

Retool the Nicholls App to make it a better communications platform.

Have a “Chat Now” function on the main page and other pages that want one and can manage one.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Preserve continuity of services to all prospective and current Nicholls students to ensure ongoing student success. 

NOW

  • Expand online virtual campus tours.
  • Create MOOCs for orientation including for international students and students wanting to study abroad.
  • Create diverse engagement opportunities/programming.
  • Make the minor modifications needed for pre-processing students.
  • Promote a clear pathway for students to receive virtual services to include mental health services, tutoring and advising.
  • Have an efficient graduate check-out system for students.
  • Implement virtual office phones (VOIP) in buildings supporting student services.
  • Create checklists and clear instructions to accompany electronic forms so students know what they need to do remotely.
  • Advise students on what is needed academically – Viable methods and student friendly.
  • Evaluate processes that could be done online for certain groups of students.
  • Continue some virtual events even in usual circumstances.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Provide ongoing support to faculty to promote the tools and training needed to support teaching, learning and scholarship.

NOW

  • Create a Center for Teaching Excellence to provide funding for continued training in best teaching practices for online and hybrid learning.
  • Expand the testing center to allow more proctoring of exams including online proctoring to include remote proctor placement tests.
  • Seek funding to support digital resources and subscriptions including scholarly resources, databases, and journals.

NEXT

  • Encourage eBooks or free books for faculty to use.
  • Encourage open resources for faculty to select and use.
  • Encourage and promote degree programs that require no textbook.
  • Continue educating students on how to persevere during virtual campus times.

LATER

Incorporate more hands-on experience through augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). (labs in addition to face to face).

RECOMMENDATIONS

Maintain virtual continuity of operations campus-wide.

NOW

  • Establish digital processes to move forms throughout campus using a system to promote digital signatures, routing, storage and retrieval.
  • Identify as many forms as possible to be set up using the system the Forms Task Force recommends.
  • Implement training on Nicholls Virtual Campus, best practices.
  • Make the entire Nicholls campus credit card friendly, especially with Continuing Education and the future of summer camps.
  • Plan for and continue key ceremonies and events using virtual tools that promote recognition and celebration.
  • Ensure online payment and processing plans are as easy and as streamlined as possible. Use and leverage tech to assist the electronic signature process (eSign Act). 
  • Activate direct deposit and electronic travel reimbursements.

NEXT

Create a plan for the virtual campus when there is no electricity (hurricane) for an extended time.

RECOMMENDATION

Promote specific technologies and software to support future remote environments.

NOW

  • Seek additional funding for students that do not have necessary personal technology. Determine if laptops are part of student scholarship offers. Determine if the technology fee could support student laptops and equipment checkouts
  • Determine how study rooms, residence hall lobbies and labs could be accessed during times of campus closure.  (Arkansas Tech, HBU, KT are examples). 
  • Student laptop checkout for distant students – especially for those that don’t live in the immediate area.
  • Seek additional funding to purchase more laptops for faculty and staff.
  • Move toward virtual computing to allow remote access to important documents w/o having to download to jump drives. Computer/equipment checkout process.
  • Look at using and expanding Google G-Suite for Education (informing others of what is currently available). Offer trainings on G-Suite.
  • Consider university-wide contracts for web conferencing. Consider replacing Adobe Connect contract with Zoom contract. ULL has a campus-wide contract.
  • Develop a strategy for faculty and staff to move more information onto the cloud. (ex. Google Drive) to ensure access to all files during times of campus closure.

NEXT

  • House a repository of technology available on campus: Software (i.e. SPSS, Adobe Suites) and Hardware (i.e. cameras, tablets) Create check out process.
  • Have a center(s) for high-quality video and audio resources (possibly Mass Communication).
  • Join together with ULS schools to get discounted rate on software programs.

LATER

Implement virtual office phones (campus wide VOIP) – office phone numbers could be used while away from campus.