1 Every college and university has been severely impacted by COVID-19. How has Ivy Tech's Fort Wayne campus weathered the pandemic?
The Ivy Tech Fort Wayne/Warsaw faculty and staff exhibited in a very tangible way their dedication to our students and our community through their swift response to the COVID-19 crisis. We smoothly transitioned to remote and online instruction through the ingenuity and commitment of our faculty and students. Beyond our instruction, as a community college, we also believe strongly in our mission to support and grow the communities we serve. To that end, we created 2,000+ face shields with our 3D printers, hosted drive-through COVID-19 testing sites during April and May, and nursing faculty and students volunteered to work at a regional COVID-19 recovery center for homeless and developmentally disabled individuals.
2 What were students' greatest needs, and how was Ivy Tech able to assist?
One of the biggest obstacles to our students' success has been financial instability due to record unemployment. Our campus raised over $40,000 (including a $20,000 match) in COVID-19 relief funds to help support student success. This – combined with the Cares Act and other institutional dollars – allowed us to award a total of $139,353.02 to Ivy Tech Fort Wayne/Warsaw students since May 1. We also helped meet technology needs by distributing laptops to students and transforming our Steel Dynamics Inc. Keith E. Busse Technology Center parking lot into a wi-fi hotspot for anyone without stable internet access.
3 Some programs are easier to switch to online instruction than others. How did you accommodate instruction in nursing, aviation maintenance and other areas where learning is hands-on?
We solved the problem of hands-on instruction in one of two ways. First, many of the classes that were hands-on were still able to make the transition online by creatively using virtual simulators, lab demonstrations through Zoom, instructional videos and more. Second, there were some classes that were simply impossible to teach effectively without some hands-on lab component, including aviation maintenance, welding, culinary arts and a few others. For these classes, the students completed general coursework in the spring online, and then when the CDC guidelines changed, we allowed small groups of these students to come back to campus in July for “Completion Academies,” where they are finishing the hands-on portions of their labs.
4 How will the next semester compare with past years? What changes will students see?
There are five primary models of instruction that we'll be seeing this fall: traditional face-to-face, online (asynchronous), virtual (classes meet at the same time each day virtually through Zoom), hybrid (a mix of online and in-person) and learn anywhere (students can choose on any given day to come to class, watch via webcast or view the recordings online). These options are designed to give students maximum flexibility to choose a schedule that works with their lives and the situations that may arise. Beyond instruction methods, classrooms will be set up for social distancing and face coverings will be required. Student and staff safety are paramount, so we will continue to follow CDC and state guidelines and adjust our policies as the COVID-19 environment evolves.
5 How does enrollment look for this fall? Are there students opting to start college at Ivy Tech instead of leaving home for a four-year program?
Ivy Tech Fort Wayne/Warsaw has been seeing positive trends in enrollment for months now, including a 3% increase in the past week alone.
We're on track to reach our fall enrollment goals, including both an increase in traditional students (recent high school grads) opting to begin with us in the fall and an increase in non-traditional adult learners who have unfortunately experienced layoffs.
Anyone interested can visit IvyTech.edu/visitFW to set up a virtual Campus Chat or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Ivy Tech Fort Wayne/Warsaw will be different after COVID-19, but I believe we will come through this pandemic stronger as a campus community and with more flexibility and determination to meet our students where they are.