After Katrina, meeting discusses online education in disasters

Sloan Foundation created a functioning virtual university in 21 days for the Gulf region during the Katrina disaster. The Sloan Semester allowed displaced students to continue their educations online.

After the Hurricane Katrina disaster brought the Louisiana school system to its knees, experts on emergency preparedness in higher education decided it was crucial to incorporate online education into school curriculum, reports CampusTechnology

At a meeting last week in New Orleans, experts in disaster preparedness discussed the uses of online education during emergencies like Katrina. Much on the minds of the attendees was a project funded by a $1.1 million grant from the Sloan Foundation which created a functioning virtual university in 21 days for the Gulf region during the Katrina disaster. The Sloan Semester allowed displaced students to continue their educations by making 1,350 courses from over 150 institutions nationwide to more than 1,750 students. Nearly 3,000 course enrollments were processed, and more than two out of three Sloan Semester students completed coursework with and A or an B average.

The goal of the program was to develop a series of online workshops to help colleges and universities across the country prepare for the delivery of their curricula online when emergencies – such as hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorist acts, or epidemics – close the physical campus.

At the meeting, the intention is to develop a Sloan Consortium response center to assure that national resources are brought to bear to help colleges and universities in their efforts.