When her infant daughter was hospitalized for two weeks in Lexington with bacterial meningitis, Rachel Staples didn’t need any more worries.
But her mind couldn’t help but wander back to Richmond, and her studies at Eastern Kentucky University. The senior fitness and wellness management major from Paris, Kentucky, couldn’t afford, in her final year, to fall behind.
Her fears were soon relieved, thanks to the concern and quick work of her professors and a couple of Information Technology staff members, who joined efforts to keep Staples on track toward graduation.
Young Adley, barely 6 months old, was hospitalized at the University of Kentucky Medical Center Sept. 12-25, spending a portion of that time in the pediatric ICU. Of course, Mom was never far from her side.
Once she realized the hospital stay would be a lengthy one, Staples immediately emailed all her professors, who told her she could catch up when she returned. “But I was worried about the amount of content I would miss out on,” she said. “I rarely don’t go to class, because I hate missing lectures and material.”
Dr. Eric Fuchs, chair of the Department of Exercise and Sport Science, granted Staples a University excuse but also suggested that she contact Phillip Logsdon, technology services manager, about EKU’s new E-Presence (www.epresence.eku.edu), an internet-based telepresence system that delivers synchronous instruction, typically to regional campuses. It also allows a place-bound student with an internet connection to connect to instruction via laptop, tablet or phone.
“The primary purpose of the E-Presence system is for delivering instruction to our regional campuses, but this is a perfect example of how it can be used to impact student success,” said Dr. Ryan Wilson, director of regional programming for EKU.
“Once I contacted Phillip, he immediately took action to get me connected to my classes,” Staples said. “We did a trial run of E-Presence to make sure it would work, and he walked me through everything that it offers, like how the professor’s PowerPoints could be up on my screen and I could also watch them lecture at the same time. I sent him my school schedule, and he talked with all of my professors, and they allowed him to set up the webcam so I could watch the class.”
At the beginning of any of Staples’ classes, Logsdon was on hand to make sure the equipment and connection were working properly, with minimal interruptions to the faculty member’s routine. Staples merely needed to log on via the hospital’s guest wireless connection, and it was almost like she was seated in the classroom.
Logsdon and associate Amy Graham “were extremely caring and would always make sure I would be able to connect to each class,” Staples noted.
Graham even made the 27-mile trek from the Richmond campus to the hospital to serve as proctor for an exam.
“I was able to keep up with all my classes and didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything,” Staples said. “This (E-Presence) program gives students a lot of opportunities to stay connected, and it helped tremendously.”
Logsdon said it was “awesome to be able to change the outcome for a student in a bad situation.”