Community are finding innovative ways to maintain or increase student engagement during a global health pandemic has left most line switching formats only for fall.

Two-year colleges serve diverse populations including high school students in dual enrollment courses, seniors, working adults and students in traditional age. While it may seem like a daunting task to build community among diverse groups of people, the faculty of the university community often use that aspect in their favor, editor co-said Kate Thirolf, the Future series of Schools Community books and former vice president of instruction at Jackson College in Michigan.

"When we talk about what is happening in the classroom, I can not think of a sector that is in a better position now," Thirolf said, referring to two-year colleges.

Community colleges can not usually have a residential housing in the host community, but tend to have smaller classes that some public four-year colleges and faculty that focus exclusively on teaching, said .

"What it boils down to is that community colleges know that relationships matter, and really focus on that," he said. "Whichever way it is important to recognize that."

Build the community is more important than ever, since most students' lives have gone virtual.

Many universities have turned their services to the student to a virtual environment. In the Northern Virginia Community College, students can enter a virtual zoom hall that connects with advisors, which are then connected with the services they need.

"We have students who do not know what to ask for, so to speak with someone is important," said Frances Villagran-Glover, vice president of student services at NOVA

clubs university students they have also turned to the meeting through zoom -. and participation has increased as a result, said

"There are two things that students do not have: time and proximity to campus." Villagrán-Glover said. Association of virtual students NOVA, a center of online participation that allows students to join discussions and access resources, has also experienced an increase in participation from a few hundred students before COVID-19-32000 now .

Students can also participate in a program called Rise Up, which allows them a brief presentation of the partners in how they have overcome challenges during the pandemic, he said. Helps his teammates feel they are not alone.

Administrators of MiraCosta College near San Diego were concerned about how their programs would move in line when the first blow pandemic. Many of their clubs and programs are targeted at the most vulnerable populations, such as LGBTQ students and undocumented students.

"It will be students who lack access to technology? Will it be students who feel intimidated by the structure and process? How are we to account for the students who pass through the unscheduled office, or those who crash into the parking lot? " said Wendy Stewart, dean of counseling and student development.

The university responded by keeping some programs - such as Umoja group for black students - alive during the summer, when they usually are not active. They saw an increase in the participation of many of the programs, Stewart said.

In some respects, virtual is made easier for the participating students. There was less conflict with class schedules without switch, Stewart said. Faculty also participates in these programs so they could connect with students outside the classroom.

Beyond extracurricular programming, there are several ways faculty can increase engagement and foster a sense of community within their classrooms.

One way is to strategically plan synchronous instruction in the points at which students begin to lose motivation, said Scott Martin, associate professor of George Mason University and director of the Virginia Institute Serious Game teacher, creating companies founded on economic university and supports regional development through discovery serious gaming technology.

Asynchronous would work well for a few weeks, he said, but then he'll start to notice their students lose interest. The addition of a live session at that time helped spark motivation for students.

School algorithms can also be used to match students together in teams based on learning their commonalities. Research shows that grouping students hobbies or interests, rather than academic performance, works much better for the community building, according to Martin. Students will begin to organically act as mentors to help people with lower qualifications.

Martin expects the pandemic will push the power to use this method of community building.

One of the most basic, but also the most important things faculty can do is introduce themselves on a day at the least, a photo and a story, said Brian Newberry, director of the Virtual College Jackson . They can also create a forum introduction, where students learn more about each other through games or answer survey questions he said.

At the start of an online course, teachers should also use the media "richer" as video and audio.

"The greater the ambiguity, the richest of the means to be used," Newberry said. There is much uncertainty at the start of a class, and using media that can express more than a simple text can be lashed to the students in the course he said.

In the current circumstances, with a pandemic, the ability to use different tools to communicate with students, including text message services or mass phone applications.

"The technology landscape is different for those younger than 30 years the main tool for digital communication is the telephone," he said. Older people tend to still prefer computers.

Washtenaw Community College in Michigan, campus staff have been calling each student to check with them and assess their needs, said Kimberly Hurns, vice president for instruction.

in response to what students and teachers need has led to some improvements needed, he said. For example, the faculty urged the university to switch from using GoToMeeting for online courses Zoom, as it has more interactive features. Faculty can take surveys during class, and students are divided into groups, Hurns said.

The university has also kept many of its annual events, virtual turning them instead. Participation was on par with previous years, he said.

"In retrospect, it should not be shocking because of the convenience of this generation with technology," he said.

The community colleges have an advantage at this time, said Hurns, since they already know how to be sensitive to students and agile.

"In a way, I feel very proud of our faculty, but when I think, I should not be shocked because it's what we do every day," he said.

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