Page 23 - Campus Technology, May/June 2020
P. 23

Saddleback is expecting a 28 percent increase in full-time student enrollment this summer.
CT: Do you think that this move to widespread online learning will help in serving a greater number of students?
Stern: That’s a tricky question. I think it helps provide access for those who might not be able to reach our campus because of transportation. In particular, we’ve been experiencing flat or slight decline in enrollment for the last few years up until this last one, in part because of the cost of living in our area. It’s hard for students to live in our service area with the cost of living as high as it is. Distance learning does open up options for students who might live in more affordable areas to attend Saddleback.
At the same time we’re a little worried because part of who we serve in the community college system are at-risk students and students who may have struggled in traditional learning environments. They need the human support, they need the high-touch service and support that we provide, and they need their relationship with faculty and support folks on campus. And trying to replicate that with distance ed is really challenging. It is not
easy to inject the humanity into technology and into distance ed. We think we’re pretty good at it, but that was with a minority of faculty that were already doing this.
The majority of our faculty are online for the first time this semester. We have a lot more training and a lot more skills to develop in terms of provid- ing that high-touch, humane and warm-and-fuzzy experience that we are very good at providing in the classroom.
CT: The school has a food pantry. It has issued devices to students who didn’t have them. It is providing help with emergency needs. You’re going to need to provide extra supports now that students are taking classes online. All of those efforts cost money. Is it going to be sustainable?
Stern: I think we want to take it a day at a time. I don’t mean to be incrementally negative there. What I mean is that I don’t know whether this is going to be V-shaped or whether this is going to be a prolonged period where we need to adapt either to distance learning or higher enrollment over a longer period than we’re anticipating.

   21   22   23   24   25