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Building Online Community for Bearkats

A changing world means a changing campus, but it doesn’t mean that we have to change everything - and it doesn’t mean we have to give up on the things that make up the campus experience. To me, the campus experience is what separates degree holders from lifelong Bearkats. 

Fortunately, even during a pandemic, we have a lot of options to bring students together virtually without needing to bring students together physically. 

Universities around the country are responding to this situation in amazing ways. For instance, Mercy College in New York dealt with the challenges with a holistic approach and included “every single unit in the Student Affairs division - which consists of Athletics, Career and Professional Development, the ACCESSibility Office, the Health Office, Student Counseling Center, International Student Services, Residential Life, Student Life and Mercy’s renowned Personalized Achievement Contract (PACT Program)” in their push to offer services to remote students.

Similar efforts are underway throughout SHSU: Online events, committee meetings over the phone, student organizations using Blackboard to communicate, virtual graduation for the class of 2020, and the new Student Central tab in Blackboard are just a few of the many different ways SHSU departments, employees, and students have responded to the need for keeping the Bearkat community going strong.

The Restart 2020 website for Current Students (https://www.shsu.edu/katsafe/restart2020/current-students) lists out all of the Academic and Student Services that have remote options, and also whether they offer Face-to-Face services at this time.

While attending this year’s Blackboard World, I was fortunate enough to attend a presentation that covered the unique challenges and opportunities for community building at this time.

The recommendations that I took from that presentation were:

  • Focus on authenticity over production quality
  • Leverage your pre-existing content
  • Encourage your employees/students and/or your audience to participate by leading events and making videos and content themselves

My final take-away from that presentation is that the students may be an unusually captive audience this fall - so if you can figure out a way to make use of their time, they may surprise you! 

To continue this momentum at SHSU and give the various departments one central place to share with the students, we are recommending the Student Central tab in Blackboard. 

StudentCentral1

On the Student Central tab, students will find information about the events and opportunities that SHSU has to offer them. We are accepting submissions for the Student Central tab already! 

The Student Central tab contains the main announcement tab and several sub-tabs - Academic, Activities and Events, Health and Wellness and the Library.