As Kean settles into remote learning, the university's classes and student and professional organizations aim to expand their meetings to include not just necessary lectures but events as well. The Kean community's objectives, to immerse students in collaborative events for learning, networking, socializing and promoting culture as well as academic success, are not to be slowed down by the transition online.
Instead, with more than a month remaining in the Spring 2020 semester, organizations are inspired to find inventive ways to host their events virtually, and to provide students with the same opportunities they would have been offered on campus - and even create some new ones.
Thankfully, like in remote course work, all sorts of new programs, sites and technologies exist to make possible a smooth adjustment to holding events online. Through Blackboard, the video meeting service Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is already being utilized by professors and classes to hold lectures and other discussions. Google's Hangouts Meet and Zoom have each been used for online video conferencing as well, each with their own distinct features that makes it possible for a variety of events to be hosted, joining dozens of contributors at once. Student organizations have already begun to use the same strategy to host adapted versions of their programming.
For example, on Monday, March 30, the Student Occupational Therapy Association hosted guest speaker Joseph Cali in a presentation through Google Meet, as well as a general body meeting; and Active Minds, who promote mental health awareness, held a general meeting as well.
Dominick Crouchelli, graduate intern for Student Involvement, described how the Involvement Center is promoting ongoing activity for students with new strategies and tools.
"Our student group leaders are stepping up to the challenge right now to move events and activities online, and to facilitate their functions remotely...executive board members are utilizing Zoom and Google Hangouts Meet meetings to continue communicating. There are also several features of Cougar Link that are being utilized, namely the ability to assign events and meetings to online locations and conduct elections through Cougar Link," said Crouchelli.
Students looking for events to attend virtually can check out Cougar Link. Events held online will include a link to the event that students can use. Online events will become even more commonplace and convenient throughout the semester. On April 6, to honor Holocaust & Genocide Awareness Month, the Holocaust Resource Center and Kean University Hillel will host guest speaker Maud Dahme through Zoom, and on April 7, the Early Childhood Education Club will host a lesson plan workshop through Google Hangouts Meet, just to name a few.
The Miron Student Center is also continuing programming. Kerrin Lyles, director of the Miron Student Center, said, "Much like most of the departments within Student Affairs, the Miron Student Center is looking at various ways to keep our students engaged."
"We continue to host our bi-weekly departmental meetings and monthly all-staff meetings. This past Friday night we hosted a Netflix watch party, and we are looking to partner with the Office of Student Government to host an online gaming tournament. This information will be added to Cougar Link and posted on our social media accounts," Lyles said.
It's a team effort throughout our new online campus.
Crouchelli said, "We are very grateful for our student leaders who are taking these tools and continuing to offer students the same opportunities they were taking advantage of on campus. Thanks to the hard work and collaboration of student groups and staff, Kean students who are involved or who would like to be involved can attend online student group events or contact the Involvement Center at firstname.lastname@example.org to continue their involvement journey."
By using Cougar Link and communicating with organizations directly to keep track of upcoming digital events, all students are encouraged to stay involved and make the Kean online community as vital and active as it is in person.