Since January 2020, EDC and Florida State University (FSU) have partnered with five Lebanese higher education institutions to better prepare graduates for employment success through the USAID Higher Education Capacity Development (HECD) program. However, this progress was threatened when, in March, the Lebanon Ministry of Education ordered all schools and universities to shut down to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
While in-person trainings led by HECD ground to a temporary halt, the desire to maintain technical support to universities did not.
“There’s a great amount of enthusiasm among our Lebanese university partners to acquire innovative content and teaching methods to better prepare their students for a competitive job market,” says Chief of Party Bill Potter, an EDC senior education and youth development specialist. “We decided to create a series of online seminars for our university partners to keep the momentum going.”
Millions of learners around the world have benefited from EDC’s work using technology in innovative ways to support teaching and learning and to improve education. EDC and FSU online-training experts were ready to adapt and upgrade the HECD program to deliver 90-minute interactive distance learning seminars. Online seminars are delivered using the RingCentral audio and video platform, with no charge for university participants to connect.
The biweekly online seminar series kicked off in April with presentations on employer engagement, conducting online education, and mental health in the workplace. It will continue through May with sessions on EDC’s Work Ready Now and Be Your Own Boss entrepreneurship curricula, and in June with seminars on design thinking and career center enhancement. Future online seminars on alumni tracking, data for decision-making, and developing university grants management structures will be conducted through the summer.
To prepare, participants receive seminar materials via email prior to the start of each online program. Seminars wrap up with a live Q&A session, and tailored, post-seminar follow-up support from EDC and FSU experts is made available.
“The follow-up support has received very positive feedback,” Potter says. “Participants appreciate the one-to-one access to EDC and FSU international experts, who help university leadership and staff to address challenges specific to their universities, student populations, and local labor markets.”
While Potter hopes EDC’s face-to-face trainings can resume as soon as possible, the online seminars have been well received by the Lebanese university educators. “Our university partners have welcomed the opportunity to participate in online learning,” Potter says. “They are motivated to stay active and productive during the COVID-19 shutdown.”