Natural Disaster Management in the Online Environment: Ethical, Regulatory and Practical Considerations for Supporting Online Students highly impacted by a Natural Disaster or other Major Event

Concurrent Session 5

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This session reviews the ethical and regulatory guidelines that compel online educational organizations to provide robust support for students impacted by natural disasters.  Participants will help create an integrated student care plan for the five phases of student recovery in the aftermath of disaster, using real-life online student case studies.

Presenters

Ms. Jungbauer began her WGU career in 2011, as a part-time Evaluation Faculty in the Business College (MBA-HCM), bringing a wealth of career experience in healthcare and business management. From there, she transitioned to the WGU College of Health as the Evaluation Manager for the growing UG/Grad Nursing Evaluation teams, supporting a season of unprecedented growth in the WGU College of Health Professions. Currently, Ms. Jungbauer is supporting severalinnovative student experience programs in the Student Support Services department, to ensure barriers to student success are identified and removed, including managing the WGU Environmental Barriers Program, which supports students during natural disasters and other events. Ms. Jungbauer also is managing the stage of development of the Universitie's Excellence Award Program, with the vision to accurately and consistently recognize excellence in student work across all programs.
Ms. Bliven started her career with WGU in 2013, as a part-time Evaluation faculty for General Education (MA in Communication), bringing a wealth of career experience from having taught online and onsite college-level communication courses. In 2016, she transitioned to the Excellence Award team as a Logistic Specialist, supporting students who submitted excellent work and nominated for an Excellence Award, Capstone Excellence Award or CapSim Award. Beginning in the summer of 2016, WGU began sharing grateful responses from students with staff/faculty and those responses have provided evidence of how this program affects students’ success and strengthens the CBE model. Ms. Bliven’s current area of research includes the impact of student recognition of excellence on student success.

Extended Abstract

Session Objective

This session explores the ethical and regulatory guidelines that compel online educational organizations to develop and maintain a robust program for supporting students impacted by natural disasters, such as hurricanes, catastrophic fires, tornadoes, floods; or other critical major events such as mass shootings or government shutdowns.  The session will engage the participants in an active learning activity on how to develop a personalized, integrated student care plan for supporting the student impacted by a major natural disaster, using real-life online student case studies.

Key Topics

  1. Ethical Considerations for Natural Disaster Management in the Online Environment
  2. Regulatory Guidelines for Online Students Affected by a Natural Disaster
  3. Practical Support: Care Plans for Student Success in the Aftermath of Disaster
  4. Student Case Studies and Student Care Plan Development – Learning Activity

Session Content Outline

1. Ethical Considerations for Natural Disaster Management in the Online Environment

  • Organizational Responsibilities when online students live far away from the University’s brick and mortar location – Are we responsible for student well-being?  Is our responsibility different from that of a brick and mortar educational organization?
  • Organizational Culture – Does caring about our students change when we never see them in person?  How do we connect and create an online community of care when not all the online community is impacted by a major natural disaster?

2.  Regulatory Guidelines for Online Students Affected by a Natural Disaster

  • What are the regulatory guidelines that inform the online education organizational policies on natural disaster support for their online students?
  • What resources are available to support compliance with regulatory guidelines specific to online educational organizations?

Regulatory Guidelines Chart

 

 

 

3.  Practical Support: Care Plans for Student Success in the Aftermath of Disaster

  • Development of Learner Services and Support Plans for the online student impacted by disaster.
    • How to create Student Care Plans for each phase of student recovery in the aftermath of a natural disaster
      • Safety Phase – confirming student status after disaster hits
      • Communication Phase – establishing contact in active disaster environments
      • Need Assessment Phase – building a bridge to academic success while being sensitive to students’ need to prioritize recovery timelines for self and family
      • Assistance and Support Phase – providing individualized and integrated interventions
      • Restoration Phase – assisting student to successfully resume work on their academic goals

 

  • How to integrate each phase of the natural disaster - student care plan across multiple departments in the online environment, to ensure effective student success despite a significant environmental barrier.
    • Learning Resources – when the lights go out, for a lengthy time! (Guam Typhoon)
    • Academic Resources – when more time is needed for course completion. (Hurricane Irma)
    • IT Resources – when computers are destroyed, along with their home. (N. CA Fires)
    • Financial Support – when payment plans, scholarships or hardship funds are desperately needed. (Hurricane Michael)
    • Assessment Resources – When online testing security needs creative solutions. (Hurricane Michael)

 

4.  Student Case Studies and Student Care Plan Development – Learning Activity

Participants will work together in small groups to identify the Student Care Plan needs for the five phases of natural disaster recovery for a real-life scenario of an online student highly impacted by a hurricane, flood or fire. The Student Care Plan case study work group will also design an outline for an integrated student care plan across the five online educational departments listed above.

The case study work groups will share their integrated student care plan with the full group, with opportunity for discussion of the ethical and regulatory considerations identified during the student case study exercise.