I trust that you and your loved ones are healthy as we collectively respond to the ongoing crisis. I know that working from home has its challenges. Many of you are doing double if not triple shifts as you do home schooling and balance the demands of caring for grandparents, parents, children, partners, extended family and pets. I salute your efforts.
I would like to give a big thanks to you for the proactive ways in which you have responded to the COVID 19 context. The College has boosted online delivery of programming at such a rate and scale that is nothing short of “amazing”.
We have received recognition and hearty thanks from the Minister for Education in her recent address to the nation. Additionally, I think that it is important to celebrate that our webinars on e-learning have averaged over 5000 views, with the last webinar peaking at 11,000 views. A sizeable share of this is from educators at other institutions and from other OECS countries.
I am truly proud of your contribution to these achievements. Please allow me to report some further information from the College’s Educational Technology team.
We have made important progress towards ensuring that no student is left behind during this crisis. The College distributed MiFi devices donated by Digicel through the efforts of the Ministry of Education, to students who were most needy of this intervention. Each device allows up to six users to access the Internet at any one time. Out of the twenty-five devices received, 10 were distributed in the south of the island, and the remainder in other locations.
The College also worked with the Ministry of education and the telecom providers to “zero-rate” our domain so that students can access our content without being billed for connectivity.
Digicel has “zero-rated” the entire edu.lc domain of which we are beneficiaries, and Flow has “zero-rated” our specific IP addresses to allow our students uninterrupted access to SALCC’s e-learning portal.
We have also worked in enhancing staff skills to meet the current challenges. The College conducted a survey of the competencies and training needs of faculty. The data revealed that although the majority of faculty had some experience in online instruction, the over-whelming majority felt that they needed training in areas ranging from using Learning Management Systems, to content development and synchronous delivery modalities. A series of courses have been provided and successfully received. Skills-building initiatives will continue in the weeks ahead.
We are also due to launch applications for the new academic year. The last few weeks shows that the College is able to surmount any challenge. Thus, our aim is to remain nimble and light-footed as we seize the opportunities presented by the crisis.
I am firmly of the view that we can get through this together and that the College will come out stronger for it. I have shared these sentiments in online interviews about the Post-COVID scenario with journalists from Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and Estonia. My goal is to keep the College’s flag flying high.
Keep “pulling the curve down”. Stay home! Stay safe! Stay focussed!
Dr. Keith Nurse