Celebrating Commencement – Online!

gradphotohashtagOnline learning keeps growing, and the number of students completing their studies entirely through online courses is increasing, too. How can higher education institutions best celebrate the achievements of online students?

Graduation ceremonies for online students are widely celebrated in three ways: traditional, remote, and virtual. Most schools simply opt to invite their online students to attend a traditional graduation ceremony at the campus, but this is out of the question for many online students.

For institutions that are online entities, such as Strayer University, regional ceremonies make the most sense. Students who are able to travel can attend the ceremony of their choice.

Virtual ceremonies may be the graduation of the future, but delivering a virtual experience may take some work. In recent years, Florida State University has piloted a virtual graduation via the online gaming platform Second Life, complete with commencement addresses and virtual fireworks.

At Wilmington University, online students are invited to participate in the traditional commencement ceremony held twice a year. This ceremony is livestreamed for remote viewing, and all graduates’ names scroll on the viewing screens in the graduation hall.

“Commencement at Wilmington University took some major technological leaps forward with the Winter 2015 ceremonies, “said Russ Lichterman, Multimedia Manager. “For the first time we used a dedicated online video platform, Kaltura, to live stream the commencement shows and make them available for later on-demand viewing. We also created a ‘virtual graduation’ video for online students, combining highlights from all three ceremonies with custom content from leaders in online learning directed specifically to graduating students at a distance.”

Wilmington University makes the traditional commencement videos available on our website. Other initiatives we use to encourage online graduates to participate and celebrate their achievements include publicizing the hashtag #WilmUgrad. Our Online Student Navigator also reaches out to online graduates, collecting photos for future publication.

We’re looking for other ways to include and celebrate our online graduates. Please email your suggestions to navigator@wilmu.edu.