Meet provides an academic and social lifeline
In March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced Lynchburg to close school, Google Meet helped the campus community manage the challenge. IT leaders rapidly trained educators on using Meet to not only shift classes to a distance-learning model, but also support the university’s renowned online graduate programs in health sciences and physical therapy.
Over the course of just five days, Butcher and Jay Proffit, director of the university’s Teaching and Learning Center, trained 300 faculty members in using Meet to run classes online—including features like recording and captioning. “Use of video tools had to be up about 2,000 percent in the first few weeks of online classes,” Butcher says.
Meet isn’t just useful for recording lectures. During the COVID-19 closure, it also helped students and teachers keep the classroom vibe going strong. “Students said that it’s helping a lot,” says Butcher. “Compared to other video conferencing tools, Meet is easier to use, easier to manage, and more secure. It also has features that helped us get buy-in more easily.”
Butcher says there’s also an equity advantage with using Meet. Students can access Meet with any device that has a browser. “We have students learning with us from all over the world, especially in our online graduate programs,” Butcher says.
As the university moves ahead with its Vision 2020 plan as well as promoting the active learning model, Butcher expects Google Workspace for Education Plus and Google Workspace to continue playing a central role. “Once I show Google Workspace and Google Meet to people on campus, the light bulb comes on, and they’re off and running with new ideas,” he says.
And in spite of the hardships faced by teachers and instructors dealing with the COVID-19 campus closure, Butcher believes the continued adoption of tools like Google Workspace and Google Meet will strengthen academic performance.
“One of the blessings that may come out of this COVID 19 experience,” says Butcher, “is that when we get to the other side, we’ll be in a much better place with instructional technology than when we started.”