Embarking on a new adventure with confidence, agility and learning by doing!

By Dr. Milivoj Marković, Degree Programs Chair at RIT Croatia



September 14, 2020

With the start of the new academic year higher education institutions are facing unique challenges that stand to swiftly, thoroughly, and permanently reshape them. When academic year starts with key messages focused around safety of students and faculty, it is clear even to a common observer that students and faculty alike are embarking on a journey like none before.

Higher education institutions are increasingly facing disruptive environmental forces cracking oftentimes centuries old teaching models. With technological improvements distant learning programs are gradually and unavoidably becoming a standard rather than the exception of the offering. Adding to the mix a healthy dose of social and physical distancing measures on campuses, on top of travel restrictions, and mandatory quarantines, one can only imagine what will remain from the "the business of higher ed as it was”.

Within these conditions’ universities are not faced with exceptionally large number of alternatives, neither are alternatives particularly hard to decide on, but the transformation that they entail is a momentous one.

Implementing best practices

Building on best practices from previous semester and shared knowledge through network of RIT global campuses we have throughout the summer worked on multiple fronts to prepare for the start of the academic year 2020/21. Next to the traditional delivery of classes in the classroom, we have introduced fully online courses (delivered synchronously and asynchronously) and blended courses (which combine classroom and online delivery). Campus facilities have undergone thorough adaption to achieve compliance with the all the necessary epidemiologic measures. Classroom capacity has been reduced, multiple hand sanitizers have been placed across every common area and in every room, with behavioral guidelines unambiguously pointing to the standards that campus visitors are expected to honor. Our Safety Plan is distributed and communicated to everyone, and our COVID-19 alert system helps us monitor the safety on our campuses.

RIT has engaged students in distant learning for almost 40 years through which they developed extensive capabilities. RIT Croatia faculty has found support in preparing for Fall semester through a number of webinars and training sessions delivered from RIT and directed toward developing distinctive distant learning capabilities at RIT Croatia.

We all learn from one another – this is how we innovate and grow!

I know that undergoing all of these changes is not an easy task, especially when such changes are not gradual but abrupt. That is why we need understanding, patience, flexibility, and agility. This is why we also need to collaborate and act as a team because we are all in this - together. By adapting to new situations and trying out new things, we are learning. This new knowledge helps us innovate. If you look at this way – we can say that by applying new knowledge, we are helping to create new conditions for higher education to evolve and transform.

Again, none of this is easy, but we have ended our last spring semester, and started a new academic year with success. And this is the result of everyone’s efforts. Our students and Student Government have been a strong partner channeling their voices throughout RIT Croatia ensuring that our key stakeholder group actively contributes to successful Academic Year 2020/21. Therefore, I want to thank all of our students, faculty and staff for being a part of one RIT Croatia team and contributing to the benefit of our own community. I am a proud member of this team!

As an end note, history teaches us that one cannot stand in the way of progress, but it can be on its forefront. COVID-19 has impacted higher education institutions in various ways, and one of them is by accelerating the transformative change of higher ed institutions, not just for the safety of their students, but also for the top-quality education their students are entitled to.

We are set for a sail through another memorable and successful academic year.

 

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