Maryville Online EdD: The Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education


Dr. Christopher Gearin:

My name is Dr. Chris Gearin. I’m the Director of the Higher Education Leadership program at Maryville University and I’m also faculty in the program.

It really has been a change to the landscape as far as everything is switching to online. So schools have been forced to move everything online. Some are more prepared than others. What people are seeing as online learning at some places is emergency remote learning, as opposed to online learning. But it really has had a tremendous impact on higher education.

I think online has adapted over time to become extremely professional and sophisticated. And I think that’s what you’d see at Maryville and in some other institutions, in there everyone is looking for best practices. So I think in that way, Maryville has been ready to demonstrate best practices. Our students see it all of the time.

Our program was very well prepared to face the challenges of COVID-19. We’re all online EDD and so in the courses work well, the curriculum is well developed. Everything is just digital, where everything is cutting edge. And the thing that isn’t talked about very much is that the students every day learn something that they can use the very next day at their institutions. But also it goes on to other things, even some college presidents call me and say, “What do you think of my message?” And so we’re able to give them advice on a template and how to address problems related to COVID. They discuss it in class with other administrators on how they’re handling the current crisis, and then they can put it right into practice the next day.

I think you have to always constantly change and constantly adapt. If you don’t, you’ll be left behind, your institution will be left behind. I think that’s the message. Preparation is the key. As faculty or as administrators, we have to be constantly learning as well. And we’re asking our students to do the same, and it’s a partnership there. Maryville is always on the cutting edge of being prepared. We’re always thinking ahead. What are we going to see a year down the road, three years down the road, five years down the road. What is the future of higher Ed? What does it look like in the future? We’ve been prepared. We do this well. We can help others and we have learning designers, we have faculty, we have administrators that understand the level of dedication necessary to pull off an excellent program.

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