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Holy Cross Transitions to Distance Learning in the Wake of the Coronavirus

The College offers resources for students and faculty to facilitate distance learning success
March 27th, 2020 by 
Ed O'Donnell, associate professor of history, is seen here teaching the

Ed O'Donnell, associate professor of history, is seen here teaching the "Struggles for Justice" course to a group of first year Holy Cross students using remote video conferencing technology. Photo by Ed O'Donnell

In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that continues to spread in the United States, the College of the Holy Cross in March announced plans to transition to distance learning and cancel on-campus events for the remainder of the semester.

“These are very difficult steps to take, particularly here at Holy Cross, where we place such value on the strength of our on-campus community. Being together is a large part of who we are,” President Fr. Boroughs has said in his March 11 message to the campus community. “I am confident that we will find creative ways to function as a community and to support each other even when we are not physically in the same place.”

As students resumed their classes on Monday, March 23, they were greeted by professors and classmates as they picked up online where their lessons had left off in person, and together, they commenced their journey through a new teaching and learning environment.

To facilitate a smooth transition to distance learning and to provide additional support for students, the College has put together a variety of virtual resources. Information Technology Services has been hard at work preparing both students and faculty for the technical logistics required for the remainder of the semester. Professors have been using different technologies to engage all students in a high-quality distance learning experience. They have also been working to modify courses, changing content, adjusting assignments and developing new strategies for everything from class discussions to group projects to office hours.

“One of the hallmarks of a liberal arts institution, and indeed of the Holy Cross educational experience, is our commitment to learning from and alongside one another,” said Margaret Freije, provost and dean of the College. “Our faculty will be using a variety of technologies to engage our students and to be available to support their learning, continuing their vital work of educating our students throughout this semester.”

The Class Deans prepared some strategies for distance learning, and Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Michele Murray hosted a virtual Dean’s Forum on Thursday, March 26. She was joined by Kelly Saintelus, Director of Academic Services and Learning Resources, and several others, during an interactive discussion of tips and tools for achieving success in our new academic environment. Dean Murray also shared some helpful tips for distance learning in a video message to students.

Academic Services and Learning Resources has added material online related to supporting students during the College’s transition to distance learning. Their information on Academic Support Continuity details how students can engage with the office staff and tutoring programs for remote academic support. Students are also able to meet with professional tutors or peer consultants in the Writer’s Workshop for sessions that include video, chat, and a collaborative editing board.

Also, a number of library resources have shifted online, and a guide on how to access library resources has been created, which includes information on personal research session appointments and inter-library loans.

For the most up-to-date information on the College’s virtual student support offerings and resources as we transition to remote learning, visit the Student Resources page.

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