We need to keep students connected in the ‘new normal’ of college life

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As academics, we can work harder to show students that we are personally invested in them. This means maintaining a meaningful connection and providing comprehensive, challenging and exciting online courses. In these unsettling times, it is crucial to better understand the point of view of the learners on the academic content, but also on their feeling of (dis)connection. We need to continue to explore how we can help students feel part of a community, ask them what they miss in online learning, and address those issues.

Institutions could also consider dropping some of the public relations-approved mass emails to students and be honest enough to acknowledge the uncertainty of students’ circumstances while outlining available supports. It is also crucial to listen to students and provide them with safe communication channels and targeted responses.

Students also have a role to play. They are young adults about to really step out into the world. They can choose to actively engage with all that the university has to offer. Studies show that active participation improves student success rates in college, as well as employability prospects after graduation.

As the pandemic continues to transform the educational landscape, we now have a perfect opportunity to recognize that we need a more fluid, student-centered approach to learning.

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