Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU) has come a long way since it first launched its distanced learning platforms when the COVID-19 pandemic began. A solid internal IT infrastructure, hosting the UNESCO Chair for Open Education Resources on campus, and continuous, data-driven changes to teaching methodology and student support led to a commendation from the New England Commission for Higher Education (NECHE) for how the University shifted to online/hybrid course structures.
Now, NDU’s continued success in the field has earned it NECHE approval to continue its online courses until Fall 2023 if need be. “We have every intention of fully opening NDU’s doors as soon as it is safe for our students,” said Dr. Elie Badr, Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA). “However, in the absolute worst case scenario, it is a comfort to know that our students can still receive fully accredited credits from the safety of their own homes well into the future. I am extremely proud of our faculty and staff, who have worked to uphold NDU’s exceptional standards no matter the circumstances, and grateful to our students whose feedback enabled us to tailor the system to their needs.”
NECHE’s letter to the President highlights these changes saying, “We especially appreciate learning that NDU has been sensitive to the conditions of the region and thoughtful about providing students access to learning resources in view of electricity rationing and uneven Internet availability. Through the use of two rounds of student and faculty surveys, NDU identified individual needs and customized the response of faculty to identified student problems. We further note with approval that the University implemented revised financial plans for students; took specific measures to ensure academic integrity; and “pivoted” to provide disabilities services for students. Lastly, we are gratified to note that faculty received additional training in online teaching and learning and were offered additional communications software.”
“When courses first moved online, I found it very frustrating,” said Thea-Joe El Chidiac, a logistics student at the Faculty of Business Administration and Economics. “Constant electricity cuts and very bad internet made it hard to understand my professors. I participated in the surveys NDU sent out to see where the problems were and since then things have improved a lot. Our professors give us more assignments outside of course time and take things more slowly to help with the connection issues. It’s been very helpful.”
NDU will continue to monitor the pandemic closely to ensure that the University can fully reopen as soon and as safely as possible. Until then, students can rest assured that they are still receiving exceptional education even in an online learning format.