Message from Wittenborg's President to Students and Staff - Stay Home Stay Safe!
Congratulations to Wittenborg students for completing the first full week of online delivery of their bachelor's or master's degrees. Congratulations to Wittenborg teachers for doing something they weren’t prepared for, and making it happen. Congratulations to Wittenborg staff teams who have been working around the clock this past week.
Stay Home Stay Safe
We are living in surreal times - we have gone from a busy and lively life, where we travelled and socialised and spent time with friends and colleagues, in school, at the sport club, in bars and restaurants, to a life that’s eerie, strange and maybe even frightening.
Almost none of us have ever experienced a global crisis like this, on such a scale, with such an effect on our daily lives and our well-being.
Schools and universities all over the world, in almost every single country are affected by the spread of this disease, and are closed, and are having to cope as best they can, trying if possible to offer a continued education through online support. Not all have succeeded, and many students are left with worries about their study progress and their careers.
As a university, we too have been confronted with a very sudden change from classroom teaching to supporting all of you online. Most of our locations are closed, and empty and feeling sad. Many of you are here in the Netherlands but some of you, students and staff, are at home, in your own country, far away, not being able to return at this time.
Wittenborg’s primary aim is to ensure that our students don’t experience any study delay through this crisis, and also that our staff members are best equipped to manage in this unprecedented situation.
Getting us all online has been a major challenge - even though we had all the tools running, such as the Wittenborg Online Moodle system, our Microsoft Office365 Groups and Teams, we could never have been fully prepared for the task we are now carrying out. Students are having to get used to systems that they are less familiar with, and we are all missing the interaction. Teachers are being asked to support learning in a way that they have never been asked to do, and their learning experience is as much as any of ours.
Our support staff are also working in uncharted territory, with the operations management, finance, HR, student housing, communication and events teams, marketing teams, registry and admissions all working from home remotely. Hats off to the small group of registry and front desk staff who are maintaining a presence at the main Aventus building.
There are all sorts of things going on during these first weeks of supporting you all online - our IT team, more used to working remotely, is working tirelessly around the clock helping students and staff. They deserve a round of applause.
We have a video-editing team to assist our teachers, we are launching an English language support team, we have virtual coffee mornings and online fitness, students are interacting and have their own ways of sticking together, and we will see more of these morale-building events.
We are also working hard to solve new challenges, such as the study workload that students are experiencing in this strange time - something that even our children at secondary school are experiencing. It’s not easy getting the balance of homework right when you are not directly in face-to-face contact with students!
Wittenborg is a teaching and experience-based university of applied sciences, and our key characteristic is bringing young people together from every corner of the planet, to live, work and enjoy life together for a period of their lives, experiencing new environments and meeting stimulating people, and changing their lives.
We will go back to that way of living. This time will pass; however, it will take some time. I can’t predict if we will be back in classrooms before the summer, and even if we are back, what restrictions there will be. What I do know is that we will be back, stronger and more robust, and full of eagerness and willingness to succeed, and live our lives to the fullest.
President, Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences
by Peter Birdsall
©Wittenborg University Press