Today@Sam Article

ACE Course Contributes To Community Archives

March 5, 2021
SHSU Media Contact: Hannah Haney


(L-R) Erin Owens, Trent Shotwell, Ricardo Montelongo, Lacey Price. 

Sam Houston State University College of Education professor, Ricardo Montelongo, has been teaching the same HIED 5360 History & Organization of Higher Education course since 2015, though the course name is the only constant.

Each year, Montelongo redesigns the class syllabus for his master’s students to reflect on and respond to any dominating current event topics in higher education. However, he recognized that the Fall 2020 semester presented a growing set of challenges for exploration and analysis.

“InTimeCapsule my course preparation, I was fully aware that my students would be viewing the course through the lens of what they have observed and experienced since March 2020,” Montelongo said. “Higher Education had to quickly respond to the growing COVID-19 pandemic, transitioning almost overnight to remote environments for courses and student services. Over the summer, they witness the social justice marches and possibly even participated in them, bringing into the semester their continued thoughts about the state of our nation and world. As higher education administrators, how could they use their awareness to create change on their campuses?”

In thinking about how to combine these major issues, Montelongo noticed a Today@Sam news story describing the 2020 Community Archives project at the Newton Gresham Library led by Erin Owens, access services coordinator & scholarly communications librarian. 

“After reading the request for artifacts from the university and Huntsville community to document this memorable year, the idea came into my head to assist by letting my students contribute their thoughts on the year 2020 through a higher education administrators’ lens,” Montelongo said.

Over the course of the fall semester, his class of 20 graduate students would create and curate a “How Will the Pandemic Change Higher Education?” time capsule based on a special report from the Chronicle of Higher Education. The project had three main components: a short essay, a two-three-minute video testimonial, and Spotify playlist that includes songs best representing their time in quarantine. 

In an attempt to encourage participation and to remind his students that their future work would be shared beyond course requirements, Montelongo elected to make the assignment an Academic Community Engagement (ACE) project in order for them to contribute to a community archive that would help Huntsville and SHSU learn more about 2020’s events.


Lacey Price and Kevin Glover

Many capsule submissions told stories about the higher education landscape and the many experiences that brought positive change.

Student, Sandy Hobart, remarked on the incredibly adaptability of higher education and the trends from the past year that she hopes become permanent, such as offering various course options to support the needs of different learners. Student, Kevin Glover’s, essay described moments of uncertainty regarding the future of higher education, but ultimately decided that in order to move forward, he would have to draw on his 20 years of experience serving the United States Army by living and acting upon the Army core value of personal courage.

“I knew that my students would step up in providing items for their time capsule and they did not disappoint. In viewing the final artifacts, I could tell that the time capsule project allowed students an opportunity to share their range of feelings through songs, images, and word,” Montelongo said. “I feel that they genuinely captured the semester moment where higher education was somewhat adapting to the pandemic conditions, but still had a certain level of uncertainty on what’s next. The students also deeply reflected on the social justice issues that the summer revealed in our society. Some students discussed how things like socioeconomic status, digital divides, and continued educational barriers were very apparent in our higher education responses.”

Perhaps the most recognizable items to go into the time capsule were a facemask and a bottle of hand sanitizer, items that have became such dominant fixtures in each of our lives. Despite the uncertainty regarding the future of higher education, one of the more popular themes of the capsule were the concepts of community and hope. 

Officially at the one year mark of the anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, on March 3, Montelongo and a few members of his class met with Owens and Trent Shotwell, special collections & archives librarian, to submit their contributions. In addition, Owens will upload all of the time capsule contents to the Digital Special Collections, along with information describing each item and identifying its creator.

According to Montelongo, they did not have an exact plan for when they will open the time capsule but believes they will wait at least 20 years.

Additional information on the time capsule and other activities in the Higher Education Administration program can be found at the SHSU HIED website.  Their Spotify playlist can be found here

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