College to keep some pandemic-inspired changes


Daniel Nickerson

College officials say some of the changes the college made to accommodate the pandemic might be worth keeping post-COVID.

Johannes Haasbroek, Editor-in-Chief

Some of the changes forced on the college by the pandemic turned out to be good for efficiency and student learning, AACC officials said.

Administrators will keep some of the new policies and programs even after the health crisis passes and the college reopens, they said.

“We’re really curious to know what [faculty and students] feel has been beneficial, what has worked [and] what they would like to see retained,” Dan Baum, AACC’s executive director of strategic communications, told Campus Current. “We’ll be soliciting input from the entire college community to be planful and thoughtful, just as we’ve been in the pandemic.”

Even after the college brings in-person classes back to its campuses, it will continue to add more courses and degrees online, Baum said. He said the college saw “increased interest in online learning from students” even before the pandemic started.

“We were already in motion to offer more and more degrees that could be completed entirely online,” he explained. “It just so happens that the pandemic accelerated that significantly.”

AACC started offering 15 associate degrees completely online this semester. According to Vice President for Learning Mike Gavin, five more could be available by next fall.

Gavin also told faculty in a weekly email that the college is asking faculty what about they have learned about teaching online during the pandemic and how the school can use that experience in the future.

“This process of reflection at the division, school, department, program and course level can poise us for great things in the future,” Gavin explained. He said the process is part of AACC President Dawn Lindsay’s goal of making the college “a premier online learning institution.”

Baum said the college will work toward standardizing the design on online classes to “ensure that we are making everything accessible [while] also and ensuring equity and inclusivity.”

Student Government Association President Ryan Kim, a second-year environmental science student, called adding more online courses and degrees “a good step for the college. I’m sure there’s a lot of people who like online classes and having a better quality of online classes … will be better for them.”

Third-year communications student Amber Nathan agreed.

“It’s important to kind of tailor courses to students and … be there for each and every student,” Nathan, a former editor-in-chief of Campus Current, said. “Not every student can come to campus. Let’s face it, not [every student] can drive and even those students who do have a license … may not have a car or access to a car all the time.”

She added: “Having school online can also make it a little less expensive because college courses are already ridiculously expensive.”