Verbit was ranked No. 1 in Power in Diversity Israel’s 2021 Women in Startups Report for the best representation of women in large companies of 500 employees and more. The report was based on 424 startups and 70 venture capital firms surveyed.
Power in Diversity Israel, which commissioned the report, uncovered gender diversity numbers and insights, reasons why diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are important for startups and how to successfully promote inclusive practices.
Noteworthy companies joining Verbit at the top of their categories include Zencity, which secured the leading spot in mid-size companies of 100-500 employees and Darrow, which secured the top rank for small companies of 50-100 employees.
With Verbit’s core mission centered on making the world – including classrooms, workplaces and online environments – more inclusive, it has made inclusive hiring practices one of its leading initiatives. Verbit employs 1,000 people globally, and women amount to 60% of Verbit’s workforce.
“All the recent research done on the subject of gender diversity shows that it significantly contributes to the business achievements of companies,” said Tom Livne, CEO and Co-Founder, Verbit. “It produces different and varied directions of thinking and action that lead to more effective solutions in a large proportion of cases.”
At Verbit, 44% of managerial positions are held by women and the percentage of women in technological positions is about a quarter of all employees.
“At a time of fierce competition for quality manpower, I believe more and more women should be promoted into the industry,” Livne said. “Women should be encouraged to learn technological professions from an early age. If we make the field accessible to them and remove psychological obstacles, we will have a strong and creative workforce, working hard to reach goals, curious and loyal. One that I am personally proud to work with.”
Additional noteworthy 2021 Women In Startups report findings include:
The report also explored that people and culture, business development and product development all impacted the investment and benefit of DEI in the startup industry.
“A start-up that is attentive to the contribution of an inclusive culture, will reflect the variety of its customers’ identities in its own workforce. This will bring added value to the company and its ability to attract a diverse client base and grow its business. Companies who have a diverse management team and understand the value of DEI, demonstrate better financial results, are able to add improvements and changes to their product offering, and are more effective at problem solving and critical thinking,” the report states.
The report noted key connections among pain points, challenges, goals and how DEI policies can be instituted to serve them. For example, more diverse recruiting efforts can be considered when a startup’s leaders find themselves experiencing high turnover or fast expansion.
Power in Diversity Israel is a joint venture consisting of 60+ Israeli VC firms and 170+ Israeli startups to promote greater inclusion and diversity in the Israeli tech industry. The full report can be read here.
In July 2021, a prospective student filed a complaint against Syracuse University alleging that the school’s website was inaccessible. Arturo Stevez argued that without screen reader capabilities, alternative text and similar accessibility measures, he and other individuals who are Blind face “significant barriers” applying to SU.
A survey of accessibility complaints against universities this year elucidates that this type of lawsuit is far from unique. These claims, which commonly relate to guidelines outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, identify weaknesses in online accessibility at many higher education institutions.
While web accessibility claims are driving a rise in litigation, the laws can be confusing. It’s challenging for university leaders to know what steps they need to take to protect themselves and support their students. Fortunately, institutional leaders who ensure their websites and online materials are accessible will help their students succeed and protect their schools from costly, reputation-damaging legal battles.
A quick scan of accessibility claims against colleges this year will show multiple cases with the same plaintiffs. Expanding the search to include lawsuits against corporations shows extreme examples of repeat plaintiffs. For instance, one person filed 55 accessibility lawsuits last November alone.
In the legal field, many people refer to these cases as “drive-by lawsuits.” The plaintiffs often face criticism for being opportunists who may not even intend to use the services of the named defendants. Frustrated entities on the receiving end of such complaints may feel that the plaintiffs were searching for weaknesses with litigious intent.
However, the plaintiffs often argue that filing accessibility lawsuits is the only avenue for making changes. That perspective holds merit considering how legislators designed accessibility laws in the US. After all, lawsuits often offer the only real remedy. Some recent developments suggest that these claims will continue, and potentially grow in number.
Two former Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) students filed lawsuits alleging that the school district failed to accommodate their disabilities. Along with the National Federation of the Blind, the students state that the school neglected to provide materials that were compatible with screen readers and did not maintain an accessible website.
The Circuit Court found in favor of the plaintiffs, and LACCD appealed, claiming that the law does not permit individuals to file lawsuits for unintentional discrimination. At the appellate level, the in 9th Circuit also found for the plaintiffs, arguing that the ADA and Section 504 prohibit intentional and unintentional discrimination. Advocates for disability rights argue that allowing these lawsuits is vital because most forms of discrimination are unintentional, but still severely impact people with disabilities.
The case against SU, the one against LACCD and many other recent accessibility lawsuits all touch on online access. Clearly, that trend is not a coincidence. Unfortunately, it creates complications for schools trying to navigate accessibility. The massive spike in online learning and remote communication, guaranteeing access to online content is more critical than ever. As the Stevez case indicates, universities must consider online accessibility measures as they relate to the public, prospective students and enrolled individuals.
These cases can be complex because the ADA doesn’t offer specific guidance for web accessibility. However, Section 504 includes web accessibility requirements. This law applies to federal agencies, and as entities that receive federal funding, universities can face legal exposure for failing to meet these standards.
Higher education institutions can look at the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to develop accessible websites that meet current expectations. Following this guidance is a good way to protect against litigation and offer students the tools they need to thrive.
Online accessibility is still an evolving legal issue, but it’s also one that is vital in today’s increasingly virtual world. University leaders should take note of the lawsuits related to a lack of captions, inadequate captions and limited accessibility for students who are Blind being filed around the country.
To avoid these issues, university professionals can make ADA guidelines and WCAG standards more top of mind in videos and site pages they publish, within courses and when hosting virtual events. For example, accurate live captioning, captions for recorded content, screen reader capabilities, audio description and additional accessibility-focused solutions help higher-ed institutions craft inclusive communities and avoid legal battles.
Many of the tools needed to support students on campus and in virtual classrooms are readily available thanks to innovative technology. It’s up to university leaders to proactively acquire and implement solutions that meet the necessary legal benchmarks for accessibility.
Verbit is one partner that can help to ensure a school’s content, courses and events are fully accessible with 99% accurate captions and transcripts that adhere to ADA guidelines. Contact us for more information about accessibility measures you can take to avoid being the next school hit with an easily preventable lawsuit.
Many students fear that reporting their disability and access needs will result in them being ‘judged’ or ‘perceived differently.’
“Many students aren’t coming forward, either because they’re scared of being ‘labeled’ or because they’re not aware of the resources available to them,” said Bethany Stoltz, Customer Success Manager at Verbit, who works with colleges across the US and UK. “To truly include students of all abilities, we need to take a proactive approach in making them feel welcome and respected in our communities.”
To address this reality, many institutional leaders are also looking beyond just encouraging students to report their access needs, and are asking themselves, “What can I do to help my campus community understand disabilities better?”
To reach all students and educate the greater campus community around disabilities, Oregon State University’s accessibility leaders have launched a method using well-known Disney characters to illustrate different types of disabilities and normalize them.
To dive into this creative strategy, Verbit is hosting a live webinar for its higher education and eLearning communities on January 6th at 12pm EST. The event, Disabilities Through Disney Characters, will feature all-star accessibility expert Martha Smith, Director of Disability Access Services at OSU.
For over 30 years, Smith has been working in higher education to build better learning environments to make them more accessible and engaging for students with disabilities. As a disability expert, her professional goal is to find fun and creative ways to engage people around the topic of disability, with work that has helped thousands of students during her decades-long career.
In the webinar, Smith will discuss how she worked with faculty and staff to raise awareness about disabilities through the likes of Elsa, Tigger and Eeyore, to name a few. Stoltz will moderate the session and provide greater insights into approaches to promote greater inclusion and equity for students.
Live participants will also be able to engage in a Q&A to share their common experiences and learn how to better support students with unreported disabilities at their schools.
“There’s still so much to be done. Students with documented accommodations often aren’t being represented enough and there are so many ways that we can start making a difference in their education,” said Stoltz.
Don’t miss the chance to join Verbit live, meet your peers and learn how to better support and include students with disabilities at your institution. RSVP for the webinar here.
Many educators are aware that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a key ingredient in the ed-tech tools they’re using or considering purchasing. Fewer can articulate what AI actually is.
While AI continues to gain traction in education and in a variety of different industries and business use cases, professionals in K-12 schools often aren’t aware of the benefits it can offer them. AI is being used by many educators to better meet the needs of students with disabilities and help teachers who often report feeling overworked be more efficient. Also, AI is shown to save 20-40% of a teacher’s time. That stat translates into about 13 extra hours per week—time which could be better spent to support student learning.
Online and hybrid learning increase the opportunities to turn to AI to address K-12 students’ daily needs. K-12 educators should take note of AI to drive both their own success and the success of their students.
On a high level, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is technology that simulates human intelligence. AI creators aim to build technologies that produce, communicate and recognize much like a human would, but faster and more efficiently. Simple tools like calculators were once considered AI, but the technology has greatly evolved in the education space.
Educators can now use AI technology to personalize learning to their students, make teaching online easier and improve communication with parents. K-12 educators shouldn’t be fearful if they don’t understand the inner workings of AI. Instead, they can rest assured that applying AI is easy. The sooner they do, they’ll be able to better address accessibility needs for students with disabilities, better manage their classrooms and share information more easily with students and parents.
Here are some key technologies based on AI that educators can start leveraging in K-12 classrooms:
AI technology isn’t designed nor capable of replacing beloved teachers. Rather, it will help educators ensure better, more engaging learning experiences. AI will enable K-12 instructors to teach more efficiently with time-saving classroom technologies and offer greater accessibility for students with disabilities or those who are struggling while remote.
Verbit’s in-house AI was developed for the education industry’s needs. Consider starting by offering useful tools like captioning and transcription that adhere to ADA guidelines to help K-12 students learn with equity and in more engaging formats when online.
To enhance the learning experience with effective AI technology designed for your K-12 schools’ needs, reach out.
Enrollment in higher education institutions is down across the board, but community colleges have seen their numbers drop most significantly. Compared to 2019, enrollment at community colleges declined 15%. This problem impacts the US labor market because many of its 11 million open jobs are in construction and manufacturing. Graduates from community colleges are the ones filling these positions.
The government addressed colleges’ need for assistance with the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). Community colleges have been greatly relying on this assistance, as have their students. However, before the Coronavirus Aid and Economic Security Act (CARES), the first of three HEERF funds, expires at the end of 2021, school leaders need to find ways to use these helpful resources that offer long-term benefits.
Community college students face significant obstacles when pursuing their education. Close to 40% come from families with an income of around $20,000. Many are the first in their family to attend college, 15% are single parents and their average age is 28.
Clearly, these students’ needs for assistance are great, and the HEERF plans present ways to reduce the burden. Here are some of the top ways community colleges are allocating HEERF resources.
Many community colleges are making good use of HEERF funds. Much of the money goes directly to students to help them fund their education and stay in school. However, here are some other ways schools are using the emergency funds to improve student experiences.
When students start their education, they may struggle to find a clear path to graduation. This situation can become more complicated when students must schedule their courses around work and family obligations. Software that maps the quickest plan to graduation helps students’ goals become clear and attainable. Also, these resources free up time with counselors who can then focus more on larger career goals and strategies.
Students are returning to in-person courses, but distance and hybrid learning still offer much-needed flexibility. Not always having to commute to and from campus saves precious time for single parents and working students. Outfitting smart classrooms and investing in recording equipment allows instructors to create engaging, flexible learning options.
Many community college courses need to occur in person because students must learn how to use large machinery. Some schools purchased extra equipment so that students could socially distance rather than pairing up on equipment. Offering more equipment proved helpful in accelerating learning because students had more chances to use the tools and practice. Those benefits will extend long after any social distancing mandates.
Loan options can be intimidating and cost-conscious students rightfully fear taking on too much debt. Financial coaches can help students develop optimal plans for funding their education. However, when community colleges lack the resources to pay these professionals for their services, students often end up facing long waits before hearing back from an advisor. Better coaching can help community colleges work with students to develop plans that make them feel confident.
Surveys indicate a strong preference for a whole student approach to education. Not only do schools need to offer accessibility tools for students with disabilities, but they should be doing more to proactively meet their needs. Whether classes are in person or online, captioning content, including lectures and videos, will offer much-needed access for students who are Deaf or hard of hearing. Using a captioning solution like Verbit will also help those who speak English as a second language or have ADHD. Addtionally, providing mental health support is incredibly important, especially given students’ stress factors over the last couple of years.
The most important factor for today’s students is career readiness. The uncertainty caused by the pandemic has made more people hyper-focused on gaining real-world skills. If students are going to invest time and money into their education, they will want to know that it is preparing them for success. Community colleges are excellent places for students to learn the skills needed to obtain good jobs. Some of these institutions invested in work-study and internship programs to prepare their students for the workforce. Students who participated in those programs had higher graduation rates, indicating such initiatives’ success.
While the Coronavirus Aid and Economic Security Act (CARES), the first of three HEERF funds, expires at the end of 2021, two other funds exist. If a school qualifies for CARES, it likely does for the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
Schools can use funds from the CRRSAA retroactively to cover pandemic-related costs dating back to March of 2020 and in the future until September 30, 2023. Funds from the ARPA extend until December 21, 2024. Institutions have used little of this money thus far and should be finding ways to promote long-term educational benefits by leveraging these assets before it’s too late.
Technology has offered solutions to many pandemic-related education challenges. As a result, all three acts permit the use of funds to purchase technology, including software like Verbit, which improves student learning experiences.
Verbit supports accessibility efforts at higher education institutions and community colleges around the world. Contact us to learn more about our captioning, transcription and audio description services.
More campuses have reopened and the majority of students who wanted to return to in-person learning have been able to. However, the lingering impact of the pandemic continues to reshape education across the globe. A growing demand for greater online and hybrid learning options is certain to continue in 2022.
Here are some of the standout and significant trends professionals and researchers in the education field should make note of as they formulate education delivery plans in the year ahead.
College enrollment in the US dipped by 3.5% in 2021. Universities suffered an unsurprising drop in 2020, but the two years together add up to 7.8% lower enrollment. The numbers amount to the most significant decline in undergraduate enrollment in over half a century.
Interestingly, during the 2008 recession, enrollments surged with people seeking new skills because they couldn’t find employment. The COVID-19 pandemic had the opposite impact, with people focusing on entering or reentering the workforce.
With students becoming increasingly wary of loans, higher education institutions will need to ensure they provide value in exchange for tuition. One way to do this is to highlight how programs will prepare students for the professional world. According to students, career readiness is now more important than ever.
In 2020, career readiness was already the leading concern for 78% students and educators. This year saw that number increase to 84%.The second most important factor in measuring student success in 2020 was student educational goals.
However, in 2021, skill competency replaced student goals, with 81% of respondents listing it as the second most valuable measure. This result further indicates students’ desire for an education that prepares them for a career.
Notably, holistic development remains the third measure of success. Clearly, education institutions should start asking how they can benefit students as individuals. Offering accessibility solutions, mental health support and other services will be vital for universities moving into 2022 and beyond.
Today’s university leaders need to understand the vital importance of accessibility. Offering full access goes beyond adhering to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In fact, 97% of survey respondents from higher education institutions state that their schools adhere to the ADA. However, 69% admit they could be doing more to accommodate their students with disabilities.
Since more than half of students who need accommodations will not request them, proactively offering services is one way to improve students’ experiences. Providing captions and other standard solutions can increase all students’ performance. After all, captions increase retention and comprehension for nearly everyone, not just those who need them most.
The 49 higher education institutions that reached out to Verbit this year to start using its live captioning, closed captioning, transcriptions and other accessibility solutions understand the benefits of this tool. These schools are investing in providing a better educational experience. Importantly, in 2022 and beyond, those resources will need to apply for in-person, online and hybrid learning options.
One common theme Bethany Stoltz, a Verbit customer success manager who works with K-12 districts, institutions and eLearning platforms noticed this year is the belief that “learning can happen anywhere.” Due to that reality, “courses need to be offered in various formats and modalities. Additionally, in many cases, in various languages.”
One example of this in practice comes from Management Concepts, which provides education for government employees. Najia Sabir, Management Concepts’ accessibility director, explains that because of 2020, it “had to pivot from offering predominantly classroom-based instruction to a 100% virtual model.” Heading into 2022, they “anticipate more learners seeking self-paced educational opportunities.” Sabir says using “unconventional strategies to deliver exceptional education will be critical to serving our learners in a post COVID-19 era.”
Statistics also show remote and hybrid learning remained common in 2021. According to a recent survey, 44% of institutions planned fully remote courses for the fall, while another 41% offered hybrid instruction models.
Alternative formats are no longer strictly tied to the pandemic, but result from the benefits discovered by students and instructors alike. Importantly, orchestrating these more flexible models means that institutional leaders must lean on innovative technology.
Institutions are using a variety of technology solutions to accommodate hybrid, remote and in-person learning environment needs. One of the most common is video conferencing, which 89% of institutions report using. Many will continue to do so for their office hours, peer-to-peer networking, additional discussion forums and more. Additionally, about 93% of educators reported integrating more video into their instruction to engage their students when they were remote.
Verbit works with many providers to ensure that those conferences and videos are accessible. To support institutions that need to be flexible, Verbit must also be capable of quick adaptations when necessary.
For example, Juli MacArthur, a Learning Technologist with the Royal College of Art, turned to Verbit’s technology to ensure the school’s many upcoming planned events were accessible to virtual audiences. By using Verbit, the school could rapidly set up their account to accommodate and caption these events within the “really short notice” of a week.
The high dependency on technology to support remote and hybrid courses is likely one reason for the increasing investments in ed-tech. The first half of this year witnessed $3.2 billion in ed-tech investments. That number far exceeds the $2.2 billion total for all of 2020. Estimates for the end of 2021 suggest an impressive $5.5 billion in investments.
The climbing numbers hint that investors believe ed-tech will become increasingly important regardless of the pandemic.
In 2022, institutional leaders who focus on preparing students for success in the professional world will likely fare better when it comes to enrollments. Platforms that offer skills training and professional development will also likely grow in today’s climate.
Whether students attend in-person or online, technology that offers students greater choice, flexibility and accessibility will be increasingly important in order to retain them. Verbit will continue offering accessibility technologies for K-12 schools and higher education institutions using web conferencing or live streaming. Verbit will also invest in more key partnerships and integrations to promote accessible eLearning environments. These accessibility offerings will allow individuals many opportunities to learn new skills and knowledge online.
Contact us to learn more about our captioning, transcription, translation and audio description solutions and how they can help your school account for these trends and new student expectations.
Today, Verbit announced it has acquired education and government industry veteran Automatic Sync Technologies. Automatic Sync Technologies is renowned for its transcription solution and expertise and was initially developed by a team of experts with a grant from the US Department of Education.
The acquisition furthers Verbit’s leading market position in the US transcription and captioning space, as well as accelerates Verbit’s penetration into the government arena. Verbit’s education customers will benefit from additional functionalities to democratize video accessibility at their institutions. With Automatic Sync Technologies, Verbit will further advance on its path toward promoting institution-wide inclusion by offering more efficient and effective transcription, captioning and audio description services.
“Together with Automatic Sync Technologies, Verbit can create greater impact by bringing its high-quality transcription to more students, professionals and consumers,” said Tom Livne, CEO and Founder of Verbit. “I’m thrilled to have such a strongly recognized team and product join us on this journey.”
This acquisition will provide all universities and partners with a more comprehensive offering and full domain expertise. The two companies share the same vision of the education transcription market and the evolution from accessibility based on disability requirements to greater engagement and inclusivity for all students.
Kevin Erler, CEO, Automatic Sync Technologies furthered this sentiment by stating, “We are excited to join the Verbit family. Their vision for the present and future of video accessibility and the planned investment in us will empower us to bring the vision of why we started this company 18 years ago to life. Now we can invest more aggressively in our product and make our roadmap and vision into realities.”
Verbit also acquired VITAC, a specialist in real-time captioning and transcription, in May. Verbit will continue to accelerate its expansion with more strategic acquisitions, where it can identify companies that will allow Verbit to invest more in specific industries.
With Automatic Sync Technologies and VITAC within the Verbit domain, unmatched value will be provided to all customers, including a complete suite of content accessibility solutions, supreme accuracy that meets ADA guidelines, fast transcription, robust integrations with LMS and video hosting platforms and dedicated customer support.
Automatic Sync Technologies has been providing closed captioning services for over 17 years, producing more than 5 million caption files for over 5,000 customers. In 2003, AST was awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the United States Department of Education, providing the company’s initial funding. Founders Kevin Erler, Ph.D. and Brent Robertson then worked in collaboration with a team of expert advisors to develop the most cost-efficient, high quality, closed captioning service available today.
Scott Ready, Director, Customer Success and Accessibility Evangelist at Verbit, was recently the featured guest on Accessibility.com’s “Accessibility Matters” video series. Ready has worked in the accessibility realm for over 25 years. In his role at Verbit, he currently works with leading universities and institutions to ensure their learning environments are accessible to students with disabilities, among others.
Some of his greatest work revolves around efforts to promote a proactive stance to accessibility measures, encouraging universities to craft plans to provide accessibility measures, such as captioning, to students and audiences from the get-go, rather than responding reactively to one-off requests for access.
Ready was interviewed by John M. Griffin, Publisher, Accessibility.com, a site which focuses on providing education and resources on digital accessibility, physical accessibility, disabilities, relevant laws and more. The site’s mission to create objective and trustworthy information and resources to become a catalyst for equal access to the physical and digital worlds.
“A friend of mine used to say, ‘What cranks your tractor? What gets you up in the morning?’ What really motivates you in doing what you do on a day-to-day basis. I would have to say in my field, it is really enabling education to be experienced by all with as low of a barrier as possible,” Ready said. “I can’t say that we remove all barriers because there are so many barriers that are out there. If I feel like we can eliminate some of the barriers, then I feel like it’s been a win.”
The video interview can be watched in full here:
Ready spoke about the power of captioning and transcription and ways that all students, regardless of disabilities, can benefit from access to technologies that offer these additional consumption formats to them. He went on students utilizing transcription tools can avoid having to take copious notes and instead focus on the lecture at hand to better digest course information and rest assured that a word-for-word transcript will be provided to them after class to reference and study from more effectively.
Find out more and watch additional episodes featuring the likes of Jim McCann, Founder, 1-800-Flowers.com and Alycia Anderson, Founder, Alycia Anderson Company here on Accessibility.com.
In the past, students needed to contact university administrators every time a Zoom or web conferencing link for one of their classes changed. It needed to be updated in the system by the school administrator. The result? This process prevented or delayed the accessibility they needed to participate in courses effectively. It also clogged the schedules of administrators tasked with this important responsibility.
Verbit’s leaders are excited to announce its launch of Student Access, which solves these challenges for our customers. It ensures that students’ accessibility needs are taken care of without delay by giving them the power to edit the details of courses booked for captioning and even upload course terminology and materials themselves to ensure greater captioning and transcription accuracy by prepping the AI to ‘learn’ the course terms and be ready to detect them correctly once mentioned in the class.
“Providing equity to students as they learn in hybrid and online environments is more critical than ever before,” said Tom Livne, Verbit’s founder and CEO. “Verbit’s team members are experts in accessibility and engagement, making us well poised to launch a fully accessible option for live captioning and transcription which fuels student success.”
“With Student Access, all individuals can receive the accessibility they need – when they need it and how they need it. School administrators will feel the difference instantaneously as well,” Livne said.
Previously, only school administrators were able to make changes to classes for captions and transcriptions. With Verbit’s new offering, students have more authority to edit class conference link details and more. This new process ensures that students have full access in their courses without delays. Administrators can now spend their time more wisely and provide students with more accessible education as well.
Students also weren’t taking advantage of Verbit’s glossary tools, which allow for course materials to be uploaded prior to class for improved captioning accuracy. Prior to the launch of Student Access, administrators using Verbit often did not have the bandwidth to upload these course materials for their students or weren’t able to always get them in time from their students. Allowing students to now upload their own course materials and relevant keywords into Verbit directly means they’ll receive more accurate captions of live courses and can manage this process themselves as they get their hands on relevant documents from their instructors.
In addition to more accurate live captions and having peace of mind that the web conferencing link for their courses is always updated and correct, with this new offering, students will also be able to locate past course transcripts more easily. Students will have one place where all past class transcripts are stored to reference them easily for studying. In the past, they needed to scour through their inboxes to find each one or contact the school administrator and wait until they received the transcripts.
These features not only create a more engaging and efficient learning experience for students, but ensure that our customer schools are adhering to the ADA, WCAG 2.1, SOC 2, HIPAA and GDPR guidelines. Verbit’s leadership is thrilled to be facilitating a more accessible and engaging learning experience for students while providing them with the opportunity to take their daily needs into their own hands.
For more information on Student Access and its benefits for our customers, click here.
As university leaders struggle to raise enrollment rates from the 72% decrease experienced this year, many are turning to international students. Verbit hosted a live webinar with guest speaker Julie Merendino, Assistant Director of International Admissions of American University to provide our audience with insights on how to attract and retain these students.
16% of undergraduate students and 13% of graduate students are internationals at American University. With COVID-19 restrictions and more virtual learning opportunities, making international students feel as part of the campus community as possible is more important than ever.
Here are 10 things you should consider with regard to international students as shared by Merendino live in the webinar:
Tailoring the experiences of each individual student is crucial to the admissions process. “It’s not one size fits all. With all sorts of different voices and perspectives in the classroom, we’re making sure we send out personalized communications as much as possible,” said Merendino. Crafting emails with specific action items and providing sessions with translation to the students’ native language are some effective strategies.
Parents and close family members often play a key part in a student’s final decision to study abroad. “It can be daunting to be in a different country and far away from your family and your community,” said Lindsay Tulloss, Customer Success Manager, Verbit. International parents are often involved in the students’ application process, so providing them with a point of contact to reach out to for support is key to ensuring that admissions needs are met.
While some COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, many international students are still learning remotely. “Schools are still investing in making their education accessible and available to those international students that have to continue learning remotely,” said Tulloss. Universities are supporting online students by offering different ways to engage online, such as providing transcription for course video so they have the opportunity to review video in a written format as notes for studying.
Using multiple types of communication during the enrollment process has proved beneficial to American University’s admissions process, helping bridge visa or application issues that students often face. “We have targeted emails and webinars that go out to our parents, as well as newsletters that go to school counselors. We like to include that information in a newsletter to keep them updated, making sure that everybody knows they have a touch point,” said Merendino.
Office hours can help provide students with the ability to connect with their professors and develop interpersonal relationships outside of the classroom. “At AU, it’s something that’s actually required for all first-year students in their first semester when they take the transitions class,” said Merendino. “One of the assignments is to go to a professor’s office hours and write a journal entry about your experience to share with others.”
For live events, webinars or virtual meetings, using tools like the live captioning Verbit offers to other universities can help make sessions more engaging for students and their families. “Our ultimate goal is to continually make the process more inclusive and accessible for students,” said Merendino. “It’s very helpful to have live captioning because, maybe you speak English incredibly well, but it’s coming at you too fast. Captioning is so helpful as an extra support, because you’re also sent a script that you can review afterwards.”
Providing students with a peer they can talk to during the admissions process helped American University’s students feel more connected on campus. “A core part of our current international students volunteered to be part of our recruitment process. They reach out to students for one-on-one contact and sometimes lead small virtual groups,” said Merendino.
Setting up international students with buddies, effective tools, open communication and more will help them feel heard and supported.
You can view the full webinar on-demand here to dive deeper into these tactics.
Verbit can also serve as an unmatched resource for your international students, helping to power their live classes, course videos and more with captioning and transcription that will allow them to participate in classes more effectively, as well as translations of class transcripts to ensure they fully comprehend their material. Reach out to us today.