During an unprecedented year of transition, Georgia Tech Professional Education (GTPE) supported faculty and students across all Georgia Tech’s campuses to preserve academic excellence and provide the best remote learning experience possible.
As the Institute’s global campus and lifetime learning arm, our long history in learning at a distance has enabled us to help the Institute adapt to the reality of delivering high-quality education during a global crisis.
Here is a snapshot of the many ways we helped ensure the continued success of our programs, productivity and engagement of staff, and safety at our facilities, while positioning the organization – and Georgia Tech – for success in a post-pandemic world.
As campus quickly pivoted to emergency remote learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020, GTPE Learning Systems, in collaboration with the OIT Digital Learning Team, Center for Teaching and Learning, and Center for 21st Century Universities, provided proactive support for 628 faculty and 91 advisors, including overview sessions on online learning platforms; virtual office hours to answer questions related to remote teaching; and 30-minute one-on-one practice sessions to get up to speed with real-time interaction tools and lecture recordings.
As campus faced the start of a new summer semester, a training program was established to support faculty as they navigated remote learning environment. Alongside other leaders across campus, Nisha Botchwey, associate dean of Academic Programs, and Yakut Gazi, associate dean of Learning Systems, served as co-directors, educating more than 2,500 faculty, teaching assistants, and advisors — across spring, summer, and fall semesters — through a curriculum of asynchronous modules and synchronistic sessions. Access the Training Course >
GTPE Academic Programs and Student Services played a key role in supporting the Institute during the transition to remote learning. They worked closely with the Office of Summer Programs and other units across campus to support summer enrollment goals and provide clear communication about summer classes and remote learning. In addition to collaborating closely with undergraduate advisors, the team also presented at a webinar and various Facebook Live events to support students and parents.
Taking on new relevance during Covid-19, an annual signature event for Georgia Tech, the Affordable Degrees-at-Scale Symposium, was moved virtually and brought together more than 150 innovators from around the world discuss the future possibilities of at-scale and affordable education. Hosted by Yakut Gazi, associate dean of Learning Systems, the virtual symposium led an intensive conversation on the current- and future-state of at-scale programs and how institutions can move forward with at-scale and affordable education in crisis.
Following Georgia Tech's initial return-to-campus plan, GTPE prepared its facilities, staff, and learners for modified in-person courses and events at the Georgia Tech Global Learning Center and Georgia Tech-Savannah. Using a phased approach, the plan included enhanced safety and sanitization procedures and door-to-door virtual tour to help prepare visitors on what to expect when returning to our facilities.
In 2020, we saw a nearly 200% increase in lifetime learners, largely stemming from the rise in online programs due to a newly remote workforce pursuing professional learning during Covid-19. Enrollments in our online master's programs were up nearly 50%, while enrollments across our massive open online courses (MOOC) skyrocketed 552%. As the pandemic continues to force remote working and learning, flexibile learning options will be more important than ever before.
Several members across GTPE participated on the Academic and Research Continuity teams for the Institute. They provided knowledge articles, along with guidance and support on technologies, the ramp-up of the research enterprise, and best practices for remote instruction.
A GTPE Comeback Committee — chaired by the Director of Decision Support, Pat Kelsey — was formed to discuss operational resumption plans. The three comeback teams — personnel, customers, and buildings — discussed the supplies and logistics of GTPE returning to campus. This team was part of the Service & Outreach Work Group as part of the Georgia Tech Recovery Task Force.
The Operations team worked with the Office of Emergency Preparedness to develop a Business Continuity Plan that will be used in the event of business closures going forward.
In order to expand our meeting and event offerings to meet the needs of our customer under the new normal, GLC Events upgraded their event services and capabilities to include new virtual and hybrid experiences. Scheduled to launch by the end of 2020, the new virtual meeting services will include basic virtual events, livestream events, hybrid events, and large-scale virtual events.
For the safety of our community, we transitioned 66% of our in-person professional course offerings to a virtual format to support continued learning, progressing, and connection. These flexible training options supported industry in subject areas such as occupational safety and health, supply chain and logistics, and defense technology to meet specific employer and employee professional development needs. Additionally, both our veterans education and boot camp programs were able to continue to 100% virtual delivery, with 118 and 650 graduates respectively.
While we continued to offer our professional development courses through virtual delivery, we also launched new online offerings to meet the current and future needs of our adult learners. This online expansion also included looking at learning opportunities outside our core tech subject matter. From this, a new professional certificate in Emotional Intelligence and Resilience was launched in October 2020, and teaches fundamental mindfulness skills that are indispensable for professionals and support whole person education.