It’s been a year like no other, especially in higher education. Schools have abruptly shifted focus online, and many prospective students are looking at an uncertain future and faced with difficult college decisions.

At over 19%, Kosciusko County has experienced one of the highest unemployment rates in history, and we know this has impacted many who are wondering what the next steps are. This is where Ivy Tech steps in to help you understand what to do in this new virtual reality.

Is everything going to be online? What do these online classes look like? Should I wait until things get back to normal?

First, I encourage everyone to stick with their educational goals. The economy isn’t going to recover overnight, and the best way to guard yourself from future layoffs is by earning a degree or certificate. We’re still offering a high-quality education at the state’s most affordable tuition rate, and we’re making sure you can continue your studies without compromising your safety. We’re the experts because we’ve been doing this for more than 50 years, and nobody gets people trained and into the workforce with the speed and value of Ivy Tech.

The majority of our classes have online, virtual, or hybrid options (which are a mix of online and in-person), so that you can take classes right from the comfort of your own home. If there’s a class that requires hands-on learning, we’ve got a plan to get you that training safely. You might have just asked yourself: what’s the difference between an online and a virtual class? Aren’t those the same thing? Well, they’re similar, but have some important differences.  

If you enroll in an online course, you work on your own timeline each week to complete learning activities & assignments by their due dates. Instructors and students usually communicate via email and discussion boards.

A virtual course is one that would have normally been face-to-face at Ivy Tech Warsaw but was moved to virtual delivery in order to provide a learning environment that is safe as well as flexible for students. The schedule of your virtual class may include real time and recorded activities, using Zoom or IvyLearn.

Student have the option of choosing the more flexible online courses or the structured virtual courses, whichever best fits with your schedule and learning style.

We’ve had a lot of success in creatively adjusting classes to a virtual environment across the Ivy Tech system. Like what, you ask?

Here are just a few of the innovations we came up with:

• Our nursing program developed a virtual escape room for nursing students in their final medical surg clinical. The escape room incorporated nursing assessments, interventions, education and safety considerations.

• An English professor re-tooled a favorite creative writing activity for a virtual environment by using a shared Google document. Starting with the same prompt, students began a story and after 10 minutes “passed to the right” so the next student could add to each story.  

• Faculty and students in Early Childhood Education continued to work with children in their daycare by creating and dropping off care packages, and then using the packages to interact with the children through Zoom.

As we have always done, Ivy Tech will adapt as needed to serve our communities and our students. As the pandemic continues to disrupt daily lives, we know that flexibility and innovation are the keys.  But whatever happens, we’ll be here for you, building a better Kosciusko County by opening our doors and classrooms to the Ivy Tech grads of the future. Our fall semester begins Aug, 24 and we would love to meet with you now to help launch a rewarding certificate or degree program.  

Feel free to contact me at adecker42@ivytech.edu or our admissions director, Kathy Kurosky, at kkurosky@ivytech.edu.