Published Jun 08, 2020
Innovation Continues at Full Sail During COVID-19 Crisis
Full Sail's student, staff, and community initiatives are coming to life online as part of the school's response to COVID-19.
COVID-19 is presenting unique challenges to universities across the globe, and Full Sail University is working hard to keep students, faculty, and staff safe and engaged during this time.
With a robust culture of innovation and technological expertise and more than a decade of experience with online degrees, Full Sail was able to quickly and seamlessly help over 5,000 students transition to a fully online learning model. The school has also introduced a range of initiatives to benefit its students and the surrounding community.
Full Sail's students are the heart and soul of the university, and their safety and educational experience has been of paramount concern during this crisis. Full Sail quickly unveiled a range of student initiatives to address the academic, creative, and financial needs of undergraduate and graduate scholars who continue to pursue their dreams during this unprecedented time; below are just a few examples.
Online Student Seminars
Full Sail's commitment to connecting students' classroom activities with real-world experience is more important —and challenging— than ever. Fortunately, Full Sail has years of practice hosting live streaming workshops, panels, and lectures led by graduates and industry speakers. In March, the school quickly flipped these campus-based sessions into an online format to continue granting students access to insight from experts in their fields.
Full Sail's cornerstone Recording Arts program hosted a special virtual session, with members of the band Trivium and course director Darren Schneider discussing the recording work done on the band's latest album in Full Sail's flagship recording studio, the Audio Temple; additionally, Recording Arts students have been able to participate in online discussions with successful grads like Jordan "DJ Swivel" Young (BTS, Beyoncé, Chainsmokers), Sebastian Krys (Elvis Costello, Alejandro Sanz), and more. The Sportscasting degree program has hosted about 40 Q&A sessions, featuring ESPN anchors, radio hosts, media business owners, and even comedians Ken Jeong and Greg Hahn. The Film program has also connected current students with successful graduates, including HBO's Senior Vice President of Studio & Production Services Stephen Beres, who gave feedback on students' projects and scripts; TV and film executive Deborah Liebling (PEN15, South Park) is slated to share her industry insight in a virtual seminar on June 23.
An exclusive livestream session featured (clockwise from top left) Course Director Darren Schneider, host Shae Ryan, Trivium vocalist/guitarist Matt Heafy, and Trivium guitarist Corey Beaulieu.
Social Distancing Short Film Contest
Full Sail students never stop creating, and they continued to stretch their storytelling wings in the Digital Cinematography degree program's "Social Distancing Short Film Contest." Students entering the contest had to create a short film using only a smartphone or iPad for shooting and editing, and all of the film's characters had to follow social distancing measures. The three winning films were The Beauty of a Pandemic by Sierra Runyon, Mental Pandemic by Anthony Gonzalez, and Monopoly Night by Tyler Ochart.
“Your Human is Sick”
Full Sail's Game Design students worked hard to complete Your Human is Sick, a game about infection and the immune system. The students consulted with an Orange County Public Schools fifth grade teacher to make sure the game's content was appropriate for players from ages 11-14.
The game was released on May 15 and is available as a free Mac or PC download on Steam. Your Human is Sick can potentially be used as a free resource for parents who are trying to educate their kids about health and viruses. One educational feature is a dictionary of immune system terminology that the player unlocks during gameplay.
The Fortress is temporarily closed, but Full Sail's robust esports community continues to play and connect through virtual club gatherings. Armada, the school's esports organization, finished in the Collegiate Call of Duty League Top 12 in mid-May. Armada teams also compete in weekly tournaments, and are currently preparing for upcoming events like the 2020 Tespa Spring Overwatch Collegiate Championship.
The school's esports competitors not only play for fun, but also to support the Central Florida community. On April 23rd, more than 80 players competed in Full Sail's open Rocket League tournament, which raised thousands of dollars for Feeding America in response to COVID-19.
The FS Open Rocket League tournament in April raised thousands of dollars for Feeding America.
Virtual Orientation and Graduation
Students have had to adjust to online orientations and graduations, and Full Sail has worked hard to give students a robust experience.
Students attend two one-hour live shows to complete Virtual Orientation. The first show features Full Sail's standard Welcome to Orientation presentation, while the second show overviews the Full Sail One platform.
Three different ceremonies make up Full Sail's Virtual Graduations. President Garry Jones and Vice President of Admissions Tom Lacroix kick off the program, then several program directors speak virtually. The names of each graduate are read and put up onscreen, just as they are during a campus graduation.
Part of Full Sail's commitment to student success in the face of unforeseeable circumstances includes electable Pass/Fall grading. This option allows students to earn course credits toward their degree without adding GPA stress to the mix. Undergraduate and graduate students earn a P (Pass) in their course if their final grade is 70% or higher or 73% or higher, respectively. A P mark does not affect a student's GPA.
If a student's final grade is lower than those benchmarks, it will be marked as NP (No Pass) and the student will have to repeat the course to earn the credits. An NP also has no effect on a student's GPA.
Hardship Assistance Scholarship
The school's Hardship Assistance Scholarship was set up to assist incoming students who were scheduled to start school during May and June and were negatively affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Eligible campus students received up to $5,000 to help with moving and living expenses. Eligible online students received up to $1,600 through a Technology Assistance Scholarship, which reduced the financial burden of online education costs including high-speed internet setup.
Cameron Knepper Full Tuition Scholarship
Full Sail supports students who have a passion for technology and media, and 16-year-old Cameron Knepper is no exception. The North Carolina high school sophomore had been walking six miles round trip to access his high school's wireless internet in order to maintain his grades. After hearing Cameron's story, Full Sail President Garry Jones offered him a full tuition scholarship to Full Sail.
Career Development Seminars
Full Sail's Career Development Department helps graduating students find industry opportunities, and they're continuing that effort with virtual seminars for students across all degree programs. Graduates and industry professionals are joining students for Zoom sessions throughout the week, sharing job search tips, giving portfolio critiques, and answering general questions. Recent Career Development seminars include "Working Freelance for Game Art and Animation," "Getting Your Music on TV with Library Music," and a virtual presentation with Bob Kotek, the Production Manager for WKMG, Orlando's local CBS affiliate.
Career Development also offers an open-door seminar for students seeking general career advice. It takes place every Wednesday from 11 AM – 1:45 PM ET.
Full Sail's campus feels like its own world, but the school's COVID-19 assistance reaches far beyond the university's grounds. The school is using its cutting-edge technology and vast educational resources to aid Orlando's K-12 community, connecting students with tech leaders, and support community safety and medical services.
COVID-19 has drastically altered the educational landscape for K-12 teachers. In response, Full Sail's Instructional Design & Technology master's program has launched a free, on-demand webinar series for local K-12 educators who need support as they transition from classroom teaching to remote teaching. Full Sail instructors and educational experts led the first free webinar panel, titled "How to Embrace Distance Learning," which featured more than 170 local, national, and international participants. Other available webinars include "Enhancing Student Engagement with Project-Based Learning," "Beginners Guide to Microsoft Teams," and "Engaging Students Through Video."
Full Scholarships for Teachers
Full Sail recently created a scholarship initiative for teachers. The scholarship provides over $1 million for eligible K-12 educators to enroll in Full Sail's Instructional Design & Technology Master of Science degree.
The Emerging Technologies Department has been hosting weekly Tech Tuesdays, an online event featuring panels with Full Sail grads who work for tech giants like Google, Amazon, Facebook, gaming companies, and technology startups. Each episode is available on Full Sail's Facebook page. The department is also hosting online panels with international grads who work in technology, so that interested international students can learn about tech and tech careers in their native language. Latinos in Tech is conducted in Spanish, and Brazilians in Tech is in Portuguese.
Advent Health Support
Full Sail is proudly supporting Advent Health's contingency plans at a time when hospitals are stretched to their limits. The school is offering to allow Advent to store essential personal protective equipment (PPE) on campus as needed.
Orange County Firefighters Support
Orange County was in the middle of training a new group of firefighters when social distancing measures were put in place. Full Sail loaned them classroom space to help them break all 56 trainees into six-person classes and safely complete their training.
Fab Lab Ventilator
Pat Starace, a Simulation & Visualization Course Director, put his years of experience to work in Full Sail's Fab Lab when he designed and fabricated a single-cam ventilator. It automatically compresses an FDA-approved Bag Valve Mask (BVM).
Simulation and Visualization Course Director Pat Starace designed and fabricated a ventilator
Full Sail Labs
Parents who are struggling to find trusted educational resources while they’re at home with their teens might want to check out Full Sail Labs. The center for child and young-adult learning is currently offering free online courses for teens ages 13-17 in Music Production and Game Design. Virtual summer camps are also being offered throughout June and July.