The college that has a legacy of transformational innovation is once again adapting to changes in the world.

The COVID-19 pandemic affected Columbia College just as it did nearly every organization worldwide, but as others were caught off-guard, the college reaffirmed its nimble spirit back in March by making a relatively seamless transition to virtual classes for the remainder of the Spring Semester.

The college is implementing yet another opportunity that empowers students to choose their best way to learn, both on its Main Campus and across its locations nationwide.

Cartoon image illustrating High Flex virtual instruction at Columbia College
With its High Flex and Virtual Education initiatives, the college is empowering students to choose their best way to learn.

“The one thing we’ve learned in the last six months or so is that we don’t know what the virus does or will do, or what a student’s individual circumstances are,” said Dr. Piyusha Singh, provost and senior vice president. “The key piece of this is the flexibility for each student to decide, without putting a lot of administrative burden on them or a faculty member.”

The college will offer the new High-Flex model to its Day Program students that provides the flexibility of both in-seat and virtual learning. For most classes – there are certain exceptions for courses that require an in-seat presence for specific pedagogical reasons – students will be able to select whether they attend in person or virtually. The educational experience will be synchronous, just as it was for in-seat students that moved to virtual classes this past spring.

What’s different about this approach is that it is, as the program’s name suggests, highly flexible: As an example, for a class that meets three times a week, a student could elect to be in-seat – attending in a safe, socially distanced environment – on a particular Monday, choose to attend virtually on Wednesday, then be back in person on Friday.

For the more than 35 Columbia College Global locations nationwide, the Virtual Education Initiative offers a similar endeavor. Students will have the option to enroll in either an in-seat or virtual education (VE) section of a given course. An additional benefit of this plan is the ability of a student to take a VE course offered at a different location, allowing students access to more courses than ever before. Students will have to select the way they will be attending the course at the time of registration.

The college is well-positioned to make this enhancement for the same reason it succeeded in March: Columbia College was one of the first schools in the country to offer online classes back in 2000, in a time when most institutions thumbed their nose at distance learning.

“In March, we responded, but now we need to be proactive, so what can we do to offer value to our students?” said Singh. “When they come back in the fall, we want them to know that our only focus is on continuing their education and keeping them safe. That has been our focus since March.”

President Dr. Scott Dalrymple previously announced the college’s plans to begin the upcoming 16-week Fall Session in-seat – with a planned shift to full virtual instruction after Thanksgiving. Those plans remain, as does the contingency to transition to virtual-only instruction at any point.

Classrooms will be equipped with enhanced technology to facilitate this hybrid model. Students will need to have access to a laptop, webcam and microphone for virtual portions. Specific requirements for a class will be identified at the beginning of the semester, and technology training to assist students will be available in August before classes begin.

Academic Advisors are ready and available throughout the rest of the summer to help students select classes for fall and register. Interested and current students can reach an advisor at admissions@ccis.edu or daycampusadvising@ccis.edu. Students attending a CCG location may visit the Your College, Your Way page for more information.