The entire Sakai community congratulates Walsh University in North Canton, OH, on its award-winning, innovative use of Sakai for all-remote learning when the university closed in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Their successful transition earned them Apereo’s recognition for responding to the crisis in a comprehensive way. The Apereo Foundation noted that Walsh “[M]oved mightily on multiple fronts to support their people and maintain the institutional integrity and have effectively employed Sakai and other Apereo tools to their success.”
In a 2-day turnaround in early March 2020, Walsh moved to fully online learning in Sakai. To support this rapid move, Walsh implemented an innovative support structure for their faculty and students to be successful in the change to remote learning. During the first days of the transition, Walsh offered in-person mini-trainings to faculty and staff and created a web page full of learning resources that included tips for both synchronous and asynchronous instruction. For faculty who had used Sakai only minimally, Walsh provided new content each day and staffed an all-day open IT help desk in Zoom to help answer questions. Office hours offering instructional design help were also offered daily.
Furthermore, Walsh created a folder structure in RESOURCES for faculty to use during their quick pivot to all-online courses, as well as course templates they could use as they planned their fall classes. Walsh academic technology administrators then provided training, showing faculty how to use their template to plan a course for the fall, using Sakai’s LESSONS tool.
This template was merely the first part of an ongoing training curriculum that included course design, teacher/learner and learner/learner communications, instruction on best practices in remote learning, including how to build meaningful discussions using the FORUMS tool and encouraged communications in ANNOUNCEMENTS. Walsh also addressed equity issues, providing all students with information on internet providers.
Ongoing engagement included events with the Student Life department, which was conducted over Zoom, TikTok, and Instagram. And through it all, Walsh University continued to provide supportive content to faculty and students on a daily and weekly basis.
Though the Covid-19 pandemic was unexpected, and its duration remains unknown, Walsh University pivoted to completely online learning with Sakai in 2 days, and provided its faculty and students the tools, training, and tips, to use it successfully.