COVID-19 had an immediate impact on university campuses across the world, as schools quickly pivoted in March to online and virtual education solutions in order to keep their communities safe. For some schools, this transition was relatively seamless, as many colleges already had rudimentary online systems in place. For others, there was a steep learning curve. But regardless of any individual school's preparedness, the first part of 2020 made it clear that higher education was going to need to quickly evolve, not just for the duration of the pandemic, but for the foreseeable future. One school in particular was already uniquely positioned and prepared for such an evolution.
Full Sail University has a reputation for being a school where students experience their education hands-on and in real-world scenarios with several tech labs, a film backlot, sound stages, and recording studios on their 210+ acre Central Florida campus. But during a global pandemic, classes and university events have moved online with over 4,400 Full Sail students switching to virtual classes. And while students might not be attending classes on campus, the school has still found ways to maintain its community's creative energy.
Schools with a history of providing robust virtual education to their students weren't caught flat-footed by the transition to distance learning. Full Sail launched its first online degree program in 2007 and now offers 32 virtual degree programs that serve over 15,000 students; additionally, the school offers several virtual-focused scholarships like the Momentum, Courage and Creativity, and Online Mastery scholarships. Full Sail's Project LaunchBox also set the school up for success in the transition to virtual learning: The program provides every Full Sail student with a laptop as well as software and equipment relevant to their degree program.
Maintaining engaging and interactive virtual learning opportunities for students is imperative during a time like this, and successful schools were focused on creating opportunities for students to participate in livestreamed events to maintain their ability to network and meet industry professionals from anywhere. At Full Sail, that included a virtual concert with members of the GRAMMY-nominated band Trivium and a session discussing their most recent album, which they recorded on-campus in the university's Audio Temple.
Full Sail's Dan Patrick School of Sportscasting program also hosted around 40 online Q&A sessions with ESPN anchors, radio hosts, business owners, and comedians like Ken Jeong and Greg Hahn. On the film side, HBO's Senior Vice President of Studio & Production Services Stephen Beres gave virtual feedback on students' projects and scripts. And Tech Tuesdays, hosted by the Emerging Technologies Department, have featured Full Sail grads working at tech companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google giving students tips and advice.
Esports may well be the perfect collegiate sport for virtual (and campus) students, and Full Sail's Armada teams have been going strong during the pandemic. Armada has organized virtual club gatherings, finished in the Collegiate Call of Duty League Top 12, and held charity tournaments, which raised thousands for Feeding America.
As you can see, while all schools were impacted by the pandemic, some schools were unwilling to just "muddle through." Instead, schools like Full Sail University were focused on continuing to deliver the educational experience their students had come to expect from them, and they were able to do that due to their history of innovation and their tight-knit community of staff, faculty, and students.