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Are Universities Ready for Disasters?

April 2011 brought some of the deadliest tornadoes to the South. These natural disasters have directly damaged several university campuses and disrupted the class schedule for many students. One college campus in Raleigh, North Carolina, Shaw University has closed its doors for the rest of the semester due to tornado damage. In the wake of these disasters, how are universities preparing for “academic continuity” for their students and faculty? According to the research of Katrina A. Meyer and Jeffrey L. Wilson in their article The Role of Online Learning in Emergency Plans of Flagship Institutions, many flagship universities have addressed the physical safety and emergency preparedness for its students and faculty; however, many of these institutions do not address how the academic portion will continue in the event of a major disaster.


According to this article in the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, flagship universities websites provide information concerning the safety precautions for a natural disaster, but only one university addressed online learning as a means to finish coursework for the students. The study collected data from the websites of these universities by spending fifteen minutes searching the website and only clicking three links to information. Both Meyer and Wilson cite this lack of academic emergency preparedness as concerning; however, both agree that online learning could play a major role in filling this gap.


You can read more about this study at The Role of Online Learning in Emergency Plans of Flagship Institutions 


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