Choose your campus adventure

As the September equinox fast approaches on Sept. 22 — daylight begins to rapidly decrease, with an increase of fall events and activities from which to choose — choices of a different kind intensify around Arizona State University and its community, as a fall semester unlike any other draws nearer.

Faculty, staff, and administrators across ASU and W. P. Carey have been working steadily over the summer to create a safe and welcoming environment, and preparing to adapt the campus, research, and teaching and learning accordingly.

We’ve been able to respond quickly to the changes needed for COVID-19 because we’d already taken leaps in distance learning.

Amy Hillman, W. P. Carey School of Business dean

Going beyond the bounds of the traditional learning model, Hillman says, began two decades ago at W. P. Carey. This fall, more than 16,000 students are expected in some form to take advantage of the new attendance options.

3 learning environments

ASU now operates simultaneously in three educational environments, which include class flexibility and convenience for students. Which option will you choose within ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business?

The traditional model of learning expected to begin Aug. 20 is “ASU immersion,” where students attend classes physically with the option of Zoom attendance (ASU Sync) and can take advantage of all the campus assets and extracurricular activities being offered on campus during the fall semester. Most on-campus classes will also be “broadcast” via Zoom, so that off-campus students can take them, too.

The asynchronous online approach W. P. Carey has invested in since 2003 is called “digital immersion,” which began serving masters students who simply couldn’t attend a highly ranked, accredited, rigorous, bricks-and-mortar university due to professional or personal constraints. This is the model most people think of as “online learning.” iCourses are classes delivered 100% online and are available on-demand — students can access them at any time. This is unlike the online lectures of ASU Sync classes, which are only available in real-time when the class is meeting on campus.

“While our asynchronous degrees began at the master’s level, we’ve been focused on more undergraduate degrees in recent years to solve the bachelor’s degree attainment problem in the U.S.,” says Hillman. “When more people have some college credit than those who have graduated with a bachelor’s degree, we need to help them achieve their degrees.” Now, anyone can access a full bachelor’s degree from W. P. Carey.

The next set of innovations came with mixed synchronous-asynchronous degrees and “hybrid” courses. W. P. Carey offered a “weekend” MBA, and now its evening MBA is “ProFlex,” so working professionals can attend in the classroom, online, or remotely. The traditional Executive MBA shifted to such an approach for fall 2020. "After we successfully completed the spring semester, we were eager to apply what we learned to offer that flexibility to more students in more ways," Hillman says.

In January, W. P. Carey announced its Fast-track MBA that also begins in August. It allows students to earn an MBA in as little as 12 months. The program, which aims to build on students’ work experience and a previous master’s degree in a business field, will hold evening classes on ASU’s Tempe campus — with online courses also available. “This program can be completed in a year in just two nights a week, so we’ve minimized the disruption grad school can add to someone’s life,” Hillman explains.

The third approach, known as “full immersion digitally enhanced” or “ASU Sync,” has been built since COVID-19 to allow students who are not on campus to learn in real-time. ASU’s technology and content design innovations will allow students to begin live courses remotely, and then join their cohort in person whenever circumstances permit their arrival in Arizona, or their health and comfort level allows for physical attendance. If arrival on campus is further delayed, W. P. Carey will support continued participation in the manner that best suits each enrolled student.

“The lucky part of all this innovation is that during COVID-19, we already had a third of our faculty who had taught hybrid courses, degrees, or fully asynchronous courses and degrees,” Hillman says. “Our faculty was well-prepared for spring.”

As stated above, “ASU Sync” is a class that is offered on campus for in-person attendance, but also “broadcast” in real-time on Zoom. This synchronous in-person/online experience allows faculty and students a choice to teach and attend class in person, or remotely via Zoom. Whether faculty and students join in person or online, classes will be fully interactive.

“Our digital infrastructure allowed us to quickly put up trainings on Zoom for faculty who hadn’t taught remotely,” Hillman adds. “We also were able to become digitally resilient much easier than some of my peers at other universities that hadn’t offered anything online and didn’t have technologies such as Slack and Yellowdig for blended programs.”

ASU began applying this live-hosted digital learning platform on a wide scale during the spring when social distancing protocols were implemented to protect students, faculty, and staff amid COVID-19. The results have been so successful that even graduate students who are physically present on campus this fall will go into classrooms for only a portion of their course sessions. Through ASU Sync, they will attend half or more of their class meetings digitally, alongside peers from across the country and around the world.

These three options will give students the flexibility they need to stay safe and healthy. What other safety precautions are happening on campus?

3 health and safety rules

While students can choose their campus adventure — from ASU immersion and iCourses to ASU Sync — following health and safety rules are mandatory. The goal is to provide a quality learning environment that adheres to public health and safety guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .

Face coverings are required by all faculty, staff, and students while in ASU buildings and crowded outdoor spaces.

ASU will clean classrooms and high-touch surfaces multiple times daily. ASU will provide cleaning and sanitizing supplies in all classrooms for students, too.

Staggered classroom attendance for ASU Sync classes will include assigned attendance days. Half of the class will meet on alternating days in the classroom, while the other half connects online through Zoom. This allows for safe social distancing in classrooms.

Additionally, all faculty, staff, and students on campus will receive a Community of Care kit with face coverings, a thermometer, hand sanitizer, and other items for use in maintaining their health and wellness on campus.

ASU and Mayo Clinic are also working together to launch the Mayo Clinic and ASU COVID-19 Initiative to provide timely health care information to students and employees on-demand through the Mayo Clinic Health Information Library; to provide additional COVID-19 testing services to students and employees; and to collaborate on COVID-19 research projects and clinical trials.

To learn more about ASU’s three learning environments, health and safety standards, campus life, preventive measures, athletics and events on campus, work at ASU, and more, visit asu.edu/about/fall-2020. Here, visitors can also read ASU’s novel coronavirus FAQ, as well as find who to contact for course, degree requirements, or class schedule questions; student services and campus life questions; and student services and campus life questions.

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