By Ryan Pavel and Amy Bernard
The flexibility that colleges and universities introduced during the pandemic provided an unexpected benefit for student veterans, and those improvements shouldn’t be thrown out if and when the world can go back to normal.
Student veterans in general have an even greater need for flexibility than traditional students do. Veterans are more likely to be dealing with physical or mental disabilities that can be accommodated through the use of the technologies institutions adopted over the past 18 months. Student veterans are also demographically different: they are older, more likely to have dependents, and more likely to be first-generation college students.
So, it would be a mistake for student veterans for colleges and universities to roll back the positive institutional changes they have made over the past year and a half. We now have a deep bench of research, best practices, and examples of successful nontraditional instruction to counter those who – before the pandemic – said that virtual classes simply could not work. While many student veterans desire and thrive in the traditional, in-person model, others need the nontraditional environments institutions have recently embraced in order to maximize their education.
Institutions of higher learning need to set up and consistently improve technology-driven virtual and hybrid coursework to best support student veterans during and after the pandemic, according to experts from an interdisciplinary higher education task force convened by the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s Military Service Initiative.
The group recommended that institutions provide flexible coursework and pathways to degree completion; develop and offer virtual/hybrid coursework that is of high quality, equitable, and accessible; and continue to fund veteran support programs. Drafted to address the early- and mid-pandemic periods, the recommendations apply equally today and in the post-pandemic period.
Now is an excellent time to assess what works best when it comes to flexible learning models and to figure out how to incorporate these strategies into future coursework. The spread of the delta variant underscores the need to do this work now.
Core lessons learned so far include the importance of increased communication and interactive instructional activities, the use of novel methods like breakout rooms to stimulate discussion, and flexibility between synchronous and asynchronous class sessions. And as two professors discussed in an article published early on in the pandemic, extensive research on best practices for virtual engagement existed before the onset of COVID-19, including knowing and understanding the students, articulating learning objectives, selecting appropriate tools, setting clear expectations, and communicating promptly and regularly.
Failure to implement these lessons would come at a high cost, as the pandemic has already derailed or set back many student veterans’ academic journeys.
For example, social media mentions of academic deferment by student veterans exploded in the wake of COVID-19, according to a GI Bill sentiment analysis conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs in collaboration with Accenture. Also, most respondents to pulse point surveys conducted throughout the pandemic by the Student Veterans of America1 indicated that progress toward earning degrees or certificates would be delayed due to COVID-19.
The pandemic is also affecting student veterans’ mental health. Operation College Promise, a national policy, research, and education program, surveyed 235 student veterans throughout 2020 about the pandemic’s effects. Of those surveyed, 52 percent reported mental health problems, as well as increased challenges surrounding finances and employment and decreased communication with their college or university staff. Flexible coursework and pathways to degree completion can help mitigate mental health challenges by removing pressure to complete coursework on traditional timelines.
The pandemic has already had an enormous impact on these students. Institutions of higher learning have an opportunity to use what’s left of the pandemic to lay the groundwork to help the student veteran community excel. The best way to do this is to deliberately incorporate innovative coursework already developed by their tenacious faculty and staff. Continuing to offer flexible learning models would help student veterans to minimize academic disruptions, earn their degrees and, ultimately, reenter the workforce.
If they can do that, the new normal will be even better than the old one for our student veterans.
 Student Veterans of America. (2020). SVA COVID-19 April/June surveys. [Unpublished report].
I just read this, and I disagree with it strongly. Veterans suffering from mental health issues don’t benefit from sitting alone in front of a computer. And the evidence the relating to how vets have been slowed down in the pursuit of their educational goals by COVID-19 suggest the exact opposite points from that which the authors assert. It is the switch to online formats that caused veterans themselves to defer their educational pursuits. Vets need connection, structure, and social interaction in order to transition successfully. They need to feel like they belong to something which a Zoom class simply can’t provide.
Yes, some need or prefer the flexibility that an online program can provide—about 10% if my veteran students. But online and hybrid formats are not the best prescription for veterans, and too many schools already labor under this misconception.
Thank you for your thoughtful commentary, James! To be clear, the point here is not that all classes should be online, and we do acknowledge that online learning isn’t ideal for everyone (personally I learn better on-site!). But many do indeed thrive in an online environment, especially when that environment is intentionally crafted and supported. There is good online learning and bad online learning, much as there is good on-site learning and bad on-site learning. The pandemic was a forcing function that led institutions to seriously consider best practices for online education in a way that many of them had never previously done, and many of those lessons can and should inform future instruction, whether on-site or online.
From an equitable access standpoint, online learning (when done right) opens up educational opportunities otherwise closed to a wide swath of the population. It may not be the students who had signed up for on-site learning that stand to benefit most from these changes; rather, the biggest beneficiaries may well be the students that had previously written off certain degree paths or institutions because there was simply no way for them to attend.
I emphatically agree that vets need connection, structure, and social interaction as part of their transition. But I also think (and have seen many times over) that these things can be accomplished, to a large extent, online. Understanding how and why helps us build more robust educational paths in any medium.
Happy to keep the conversation going if you’d like. I’m at email@example.com.
Carl Schuster, Columbia University GS, 67
Ryan – The human race depends on homo sapiens moving up the learning curve. The point of a University Education is to instill the life-long habit and desire of learning; It doesn’t matter what, or even how! We shouldn’t be quibbling about the details. Each of us will learn what the most effective method is for us now, but this will change as time goes on. The GI Bill largely paid for my Columbia University Bachelor’s Degree, but what has been most satisfying in my life, now in its 4th Katun/ 8th decade of an exciting life is the need/desire to continue to educate myself about all that stuff that I don’t know, like the History of early discovery, geophysics, and ancient cartography. Just because it is in the textbooks and reading assignments, doesn’t make it so. As my history master in secondary school once told me “… you’ve got to read the primary documents to understand what happened, not what someone else told you that happened.”
Studies show exactly what the investigators wanted to demonstrate. As Humpty Dumpty remarked so cogently “…it means exactly what I mean it to mean, neither more, nor less!” Veterans know themselves better than all the educators put together. Our unique experiences will determine our unique needs, and we’ve got to figure this out, on an individual basis , that which works for us. This is why this program exists. If I may help, please let me know. Keep up the good work.
awesome post,thanks for sharing.
download instagram video
gmail account login kaise kare
hindi gane ki ringtone download kare
facebook download kare
web hosting for wordpress in hindi
video audio download
whatsapp ka malik koun hai
new tech app