What a start to our first term! After months of anticipation and weeks of final preparation, my fellow instructors and I were finally able introduce ourselves to our first ever students as classes began. It’s been a busy and an extraordinary first week.
We’ve fielded questions and enjoyed hearing from students from all over the world. We are already seeing students interacting, sharing knowledge and engaging with our courses in a wave of enthusiasm that exceeds our expectations. Within our special virtual learning environment a new worldwide educational community is already forming, and it’s doing so at an amazing speed.
This week we have welcomed the world to this new era in education. The student body literally spans the globe, from Ecuador in the west to China in the east, from Canada in the north to Australia in the south, and in spite of the challenges posed by time zones, cultural differences, and language differences, their response and involvement has been inspiring. To be honest, the instructors are having to brush up on their geography as we discover where some of our students live. Most gratifying of all are students’ notes posted directly to us, and others posted on our classroom and course forums.
All week students have been telling us how significant it is to have found an opportunity to further their education without the usual financial burdens that would make such education unsustainable for them. Many have made it abundantly clear that what we are offering them here at the University of the People is the potential to change their lives for the better, and the lives of their families. The challenge remains, and just like our students we have much to learn as we accompany them on their educational journey. It is always a worrying time just before something new and pioneering begins. However, any moments of slight doubt during the pressure of our pre-launch phase, were completely removed by the way our students embraced the opportunity to learn.
While we have been welcoming them to our courses, they have been welcoming us to become part of their new experience. It has been a privilege to be part of this exciting start, and it has been fascinating already to see our students getting to grips with the courses, learning from us and learning from each other. The university is still in its infancy, but it’s been a joyful birth, and we’re delighted to help nurture it and watch it grow.