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Avoiding Disruptions During an Outbreak: When Communication Matters Most

By Mieke Post

EesyCustomers Mercy College, NTNU and MCM have shown us how they are using EesySoft to keep their students and faculty informed in light of the new Coronavirus. As this is a global challenge impacting many educational institutions, these examples inspired us to write a blog post explaining how EesySoft, EdTech Adoption Platform can be applied during such institutional dilemmas.

 

Impact on Education

As the new Coronavirus continues making its way across the globe, it is becoming increasingly clear that its impact on education will be significant and challenging to overcome. The United Nations have estimated that school closures and shutdowns have already affected almost 300 million students globally1.

As countries are affected at different times and to varying degrees by the Coronavirus, the role of educational technology becomes more important. This is particularly due to the increasing number of schools opting for fully online courses through their LMSs. We are pleased to see that our customers are using EesySoft to efficiently communicate with the users on their respective LMSs and to facilitate their transitions to online learning. During confusing times, clear communication is crucial to avoid disruptions for your institution. 

 

Tips from EesySoft Customers

If you are also thinking of ways to keep your students and faculty informed during this tumultuous period, consider the following tips - as exemplified by EesyCustomers: 

  1. Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
  2. Malayan Colleges Mindanao (MCM)
  3. Mercy College

 

 Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

EesyMessage about the Corona Virus at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) is using EesyMessages in a university-wide messaging campaign to ensure all students and staff stay up-to-date on everything related to the new coronavirus. With a pop-up message displayed to every user on the LMS as soon as they land on the homepage, NTNU is ensuring all students have access to constantly updated information regarding Covid-19 and how it will impact normal university proceedings.

 

Malayan Colleges Mindanao (MCM)

MCM - Corona Campaign

Malayan Colleges Mindanao (MCM), similar to NTNU, has deployed an institution-wide EesyMessage with links to information from the WHO and CDC. This ensures that they communicate this important information to all their users, and can receive individual feedback from users on the clarity and usefulness of the message.

 

Mercy College

EesyMessage Example from Mercy College about the Corona Virus

Mercy College is also using EesyMessages in order to inform students on what a digital learning transition would look like for them. As numerous instances of coronavirus have been recorded in New York, Mercy College aims to preemptively offer assistance in acquainting students and teachers with online learning through Blackboard, in the emergency scenario that they can no longer have students physically attending classes. This way the college can, for example, at a moment's notice deploy emergency on-boarding messages for teachers who are not yet fully online. 

 

Campaign Advice From Our Educational Consultant Danny Monaghan

Are you also considering a full-scale digital transition during this period and wondering what kind of messages you can place in your LMS using EesySoft? Here is an example campaign by our Educational Consultant Danny Monaghan outlining how EesySoft can be of help:

If I were to imagine myself back at the University of Sheffield as the Service Manager for Blackboard and Educational Technologies Helpdesk during this coronavirus situation, I can certainly see the role that EesySoft would play. It would be vital in keeping all LMS users up to date with plans being put in place to deal with a potential worst case scenario, namely canceled face-to-face teaching. I would aim to use the least disruptive option available, which is where EesySoft, EdTech Adoption Platform comes into play. 

You could consider trying to adopt several purely online methods of teaching, however as this could mean teaching staff would have to create new material and learn new teaching methods, I could see this resulting in teaching being cancelled completely. As a service manager of an LMS, you would, of course, be working closely with many different sections of an institution who would be responsible for developing an overall policy towards this. 

For this example, we are assuming that an institutional plan has been put in place to closely monitor the situation but keep normal teaching activity running until official advice changes the action plan. For the following example, let’s imagine that the decision has been made to utilise the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra tool to move all face-to-face teaching online in order to minimise disruption to the teaching timetable.

Several resources would need to be provided to faculty and students to support the EdTech involved in this plan, as well as information relating to the virus itself plus official updates and guidelines. You would have to ensure that teaching staff have access to resources supporting them in the use of Collaborate Ultra and where to seek further support. It is important that they are aware of the plan, the requirements involved, and what they have to provide in an LMS course to students.

For this example campaign, I have created messages that form three stages:

1. A general awareness systray message to all users.

covid19 level 1

 

2. Specific staff and student systray messages informing users that there are potential changes occurring to the teaching in the near future, and how to prepare. 

Staff:

covid19 level 2 staff

Student:

covid19 level 2 student

 

3. The changes above have now been implemented. This is a pop-up for staff, as you don’t want them to miss the checklist, and a hint message on the course section to act as a guide for them on where to go.

Staff:

covid19 level 3 staff-1

Student:

covid19 level 3 student

These messages also contain links to resources outside of EesySoft, which would be both information at an institutional level about the virus, as well as plans and resources specific to the LMS.

Reporting on these would be based on monitors placed on the links within messages as well as on the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra course menu link, which would provide an accurate picture of the response to each message and the number of users accessing the appropriate tools. There is always the option to follow up on these users by targeting those that haven’t yet accessed the tool, if that was felt to be an appropriate step in the campaign.

 

4 Tips to Minimize Course Disruption

1. Send all users an EesyMessage with information on the Coronavirus.

Place an institution-wide message for all users on the LMS where you give updates and information on the new coronavirus, as well as the changes that students and faculty can expect as a result of e.g. new health policies or courses moving online. 

2. Deploy targeted EesyMessages to prepare for online teaching. 

Users will face some initial questions and confusion as their learning becomes digital. Specifically target users who have not yet fully migrated online, and inform them on where to find their classes and assignments. Track the effectiveness of your messages and receive instant feedback from users on whether or not they find them helpful. 

3. Track which users are enrolling and using tools in the LMS.

With the EesyAdoption package you can easily track which users are active on their online courses, and whether they are utilising the intended functionalities available to them on their LMS. This allows you to pinpoint users who might need some extra training or help along the way. Perfect to ensure less tech-savvy teachers or students don't fall behind as your courses move fully online!

4. Provide 24/7 assistance to online users.

EesySupport enables you to provide 24/7 assistance to users within your LMS. A swift digital learning transition will inevitably cause some confusion, and EesySoft provides you with the tools and platform to oversee that transition, making it easier for everyone involved. Help content is recommended automatically to users based on the their role and where they are within the LMS. For remaining help requests, EesySoft conveniently escalates these by email, call or chat, to ensure that your users quickly feel comfortable in their new learning environment. 

 

Need advice or want to learn more about using EesySoft? 

You can always reach us at hello@eesysoft.com or better yet, book a meeting with us now:

Schedule one-on-one meeting with EesySoft

 

Thanks to our customers for sharing your ideas!

Thanks to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Malayan Colleges Mindanao and Mercy College for sharing their stories.

 

Citations

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/04/world/coronavirus-schools-closed.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

 

Tags: LMS Adoption, Transition, EesyMessages, EesyAdoption, OnlineLearning, EdTech, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Corona, Outbreak, Epidemic, ELearning, DigitalLearning