COVID-19’s impact on traditional learners was widely covered as students abruptly left campus to keep their communities healthy and continue learning at a distance. But the influence on non-traditional adult students who are already learning online is no less dramatic.

COVID-19 is a major life event that’s impacting all learners in different ways, with more than 1 million Americans sickened by the virus, 26 million U.S workers who have recently filed jobless claims, and 55 million school-aged kids now learning at home.

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For adult learners who are already managing responsibilities such as working full-time jobs and acting as a caregiver for children or parents, the addition of a pandemic can seem overwhelming. Here are ways academic institutions can support non-traditional online students to ensure they can achieve their academic goals and advance their careers.

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About the Author:

Dr. Johnna Herrick-Phelps is the assistant provost at Champlain College Online where she leads 50+ career-focused online degree programs. She has served in this role since 2018, working closely with online instructors, eLearning, program directors and academic advisors to ensure quality in all aspects of Champlain’s online academic experience. Prior to Champlain, she was vice provost for academic affairs at Granite State College in New Hampshire. Dr. Herrick-Phelps earned her doctorate in human and organizational development systems from Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, California, and a master’s degree in organizational management and leadership from Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts.


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