Adaptation in a time of uncertainty has been a defining testament to our education system during the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus that swept the state — and continues to ravage the country — upended traditional classroom settings and educational institutions across the board, from summer camps to college campuses.
Time and time again, educators have demonstrated their ability to pivot on a dime — and students are rising to meet the changing times. For the first time in its 54 year history, Summer Discovery Camp in Roslyn took its academic offerings online this year for a virtual experience dubbed Summer Discovery Online.
With more than five decades of experience running residential pre-college programs, Summer Discovery is regarded for providing high school students with the opportunity to go to various prestigious colleges for two-to-four week sessions. Students take classes taught by college professors and experience college campus life to gain college readiness. In light of COVID, the camp went fully online, offering students the chance to be part of virtual courses, virtual activities with students from around the world, and to be a part of exclusive college readiness workshops.
This year the camp provided more than 25 pre-college courses at leading universities including UCLA, CU Boulder and UT Austin. Students immersed themselves in courses such as Ideagen Global Leaders Academy Powered by Microsoft; Business of Entertainment, Media and Sports; Advertising in the Digital Age; Issues in Economics and more. Despite the lack of in-person interaction, the students got a lot of the digital experience.
“I am having a very good and enjoyable experience with Summer Discovery Online,” student Jude A. said, who participated in the Future Global Leaders Academy, presented globally by Microsoft. “Everything is so organized and easy to access and understand. I feel very comfortable in my class and it’s easy to talk and discuss different topics. I thought it would be much more confusing getting to all my classes because I’ve never done something online like this before, but it was organized very well.”
Prior to this summer, Summer Discover did not offer online education but was quick to transition to a digital platform in order to continue to provide students with a foundation for a competitive college application. The programs were designed to be engaging, as many struggled with online learning during the spring semester. There were no muted Zoom calls or self-guided through Youtube videos. The instructors developed content and projects to connect students virtually throughout the program.
“The entire company worked together in teams to build a robust offering and create a positive and comprehensive online experience for students,” Liz Ringel, Summer Discover Chief Marketing Officer, said. “We built a model that was truly interactive and have received an overwhelming positive response.”
With college and career workshops, students also learned how to research their future college, improve public speaking skills and gain application tips. This year’s summer program welcomed students from across the United States, as well as internationally.
“I think it’s a good way to get your mind ready for the future years,” student Julia R., who also partook in the online Ideagen Future Global Leaders Academy, said. “It’s never too early to start planning and discovering new college info. I have interacted with many students and learned about many things. It was definitely a good decision to keep me busy during quarantine”
Looking ahead to 2021, Ringel said Summer Discovery plans to be back on campuses — but would consider offering online courses, especially during the spring and fall school breaks.