If you walk around almost any college in the country, the first thing you notice is that just about every building is named after some benefactor. Whether it’s a gym, a dormitory, or a theater, chances are it has the name of a wealthy individual or the logo of a company prominently displayed. And as far as memorials go, getting a campus building named after yourself is a pretty good choice, because tens of thousands of students, professors, and staff are guaranteed to see it every single year.
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Unless that year is 2020. That’s because COVID-19 has forced almost everyone to work, teach, and learn from home. And no one knows how long that’s going to last. It could be a few more months, or we could lose an entire academic year of in-person classes. We could start up in September, only to have a second wave of the pandemic force people to abandon classrooms for another extended period of time. We just have no idea.
That’s why schools need to get serious about using technology to replace in-person experiences. And in some cases, these new approaches may actually be better than the ones we left behind. Let’s look at the process of getting financial aid, which even before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19, was an incredibly inefficient and frustrating experience for both students and staff. People had to line up for hours as they slowly snaked their way to the front, where an employee would help them fill out the paperwork to get the funds to enroll in school.