Bob Martin: Cory, thank you for joining us.
Cory Hughes: Thank you for having me.
Bob: Today’s topic—Cory, you’ve been good enough to join us today—is going to be the Lincoln Tech’s response (in particular, your campus response) to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Can you give us a little bit of an overview of what you’ve had to do to accommodate this unprecedented health care crisis?
Cory: Yes. In line with Governor Hogan’s executive order, and with guidance from Secretary of Education James Fielder, Lincoln College of Technology has joined all of Maryland’s colleges in moving from a brick-and-mortar environment to an online distance learning model. This occurred for us several weeks ago.
We had been preparing for this eventuality, and we had had our faculty begin to use an online platform that students can log into, receive their daily lessons, readings, exercises through videos, through links to homework, and quizzes, and exams—and we’ve successfully transitioned over 500 students from the brick-and-mortar to an online distance learning model.
Lee Doubleday: Okay, I think you had mentioned that the campus itself is closed and you’re doing everything online, but are you still open for campus tours or is that something that maybe you guys are doing virtually?
Cory: That’s a great question. Actually, the campus is closed at this time, again in line with Governor Hogan’s executive order, but we have our admission representatives working with prospective students. They set up a time with the prospective student to sit and talk for 60 to 90 minutes. They go through a virtual tour, they talk about the person’s expectations, they talk about why they’re looking to get into a particular field. We teach automotive here, electrical and electronics, we do HVAC, we do welding, culinary, baking and pastry. So whatever the person’s passion, we ultimately ask them questions related to their desire to get into that field and then ultimately their goals, and then we respond by talking about how Lincoln Tech might be an option for them to reach those goals. And right now, we’re doing it virtually.
Lee: Wow, okay. Well speaking of enrolling students, can I still enroll for a future class, and when does your next class start?
Cory: Actually, you can enroll. We’re currently taking enrollments; we just completed our March class start on the 31st and we’re now enrolling students for our April class start. We have a heating, ventilation, air conditioning class starting at the end of the month, a welding evening class starting at the end of the month, and automotive classes starting at the end of the month. On a month-by-month basis, we start classes in almost every one of the programs that we offer.
Lee: And if those campuses are still closed because of the virus, I think you’d said maybe at the end of the month’s time assuming they will, will the class still be able to start? Is it going to be starting virtually? How will that work?
Cory: So the classes will start, and you’re right: it’s going to be done virtually. With most of our programs, we have a technology piece to it. Students are using either laptops, or desktops from home, iPads, or tablets, and ultimately what they’ll be doing is they’ll be logging into a portal. The student portal has a program called Canvas, where students log in, they interact with each other in discussion boards, they get lessons from their instructor, and—as I mentioned before—it’s anything from reading assignments that they need to do to watching videos, to interacting with each other on discussion boards, to completing assignments with assigned questions and matching and fill-in-the-blanks and essays, and ultimately taking quizzes and tests. It’s a normal schooling experience, but it’s all done virtually and online.
Bob: Hey Cory, Columbia, Maryland, of Lincoln Tech has a very robust and very great high school program, and a number of our audience members are high school guidance counselors—and I’m sure that there’s a very good possibility that these counselors may not see these students for the balance of their senior year. I’m talking seniors now. So if you were putting on your hat, what is it you can do, or what is it we can do, to help those counselors and those individual students as they’re thinking through, “Geez, now what do I do? I wanted to go to Lincoln. I got to talk to Mrs. Schwartz and she’s not there. What do I do?”
Cory: That’s a great question, and it’s something that we’ve already started working with some of our local guidance counselors to set up virtual meetings with students that the guidance counselor feels would benefit from our style of education and the programs that we offer. We can do this individually so that one admissions representative works with a student and their parents or guardian . . . or we can do this with a group of students and set up something like a Zoom meeting where, again, we have an admissions representative, the academic dean gets on, I get on. We set it up so that we allow them to ask questions, we can answer them, we can take them through a virtual tour. We can bring in various instructors to give them an idea of what a day in the life looks like in their chosen field—again, be it automotive or electrical, welding, baking, pastry, HVAC. So that they have an idea of what the field of study is truly about once they get a job.
Bob: So what I’m leaving this conversation with you is number one, Lincoln Tech in Columbia, Maryland, is open and open for business and is serving students. It may not be serving it the way that you have in the past, but you’ve made accommodations in order to try to accommodate those existing students.
Second thing I’m getting—Cory, correct me if I’m wrong please—is that any interested student, you’ve tried to accommodate in a number of fashions: ways that they can connect with you, connect with your staff either by computer, by virtual meeting, or whatever so they can start to get a better feel of what Lincoln Tech is all about and how they’re going to fit into this whole thing.
Third thing I hear is that Cory Hughes is open for business, and if any of these folks that are listening on this current podcast want to get some information, they would feel free to contact you, Cory Hughes, at CHughes@LincolnTech.edu. Is that fair to say?
Cory: That is perfectly fair to say. Well done.
Bob: Thank you. Well, we want to thank our audience for joining us in today’s episode of Imagine America Radio. We had the pleasure of talking to Cory Hughes, campus president at the Lincoln Tech in Columbia, Maryland.
We had a great conversation on the coronavirus epidemic and how this particular campus is doing innovative things in order to serve existing students and to try to serve potential new students. Thank you, Cory, for your time. On behalf of my colleague Lee Doubleday and myself, please be safe and have a great day. Thank you.