If the H1N1 virus (swine flu) attacks the Seattle area, one of the best methods of defense is to stay at home.
But for students, that can mean missing classes and falling behind.
Even as classes are getting underway at Northwest University (AG) in Kirkland, Washington, university leaders there are already implementing the first phase of a system that will allow students to view audio and video of class sessions on their own computers, anywhere and anytime, via the Web, using a rich media capture platform known as Panopto (panopto.com).
At first, only a few classrooms were equipped with this technology. But with the threat of more students potentially needing to miss class due to the flu, Northwest University is moving to the next phase of the project immediately, equipping nearly every classroom with the needed technology. It allows students not only to view and hear their professors, but also see what was projected in the classroom (including PowerPoint, Web sites, specialized databases and handwritten notations on tablet PCs) and review this as needed.
"These tools will be ready for our faculty in the coming weeks, so that students can access lectures and classroom discussions even if they are quarantined," said Dan Schimelpfenig, CFO and the lead administrator for Northwest's information systems.
Last spring, the university assembled a task force to develop Northwest's strategy and implement tactics in case of an H1N1 outbreak that included establishing a hotline, protocols for suspected cases, added protective measures, and plans for potential quarantine and suspension of classes.
This year, the task force is back at work with plans for educating the university community as well as rapid distribution of a vaccine when it becomes available, in addition to the capability to keep students physically out of class but virtually in class.
"I believe that Northwest University is prepared to weather the predicted storm that is coming with the H1N1 virus," explained Dan Neary, executive vice president. "Our faculty, staff, students and other leaders have stepped up our efforts to be ready to serve our students should this flu strike as predicted."
More information about Northwest University can be found online at http://www.northwestu.edu.