Taught by Johns Hopkins scientist Emily Gurley, PhD, MPH, COVID-19 Contact Tracing is an introductory level course that equips learners with the training that may be required to become a contact tracer amid this pandemic. Johns Hopkins’ site explains, “The new Coursera class, COVID-19 Contact Tracing, teaches the basics of interviewing people diagnosed with the virus, identifying their close contacts who might have been exposed, and providing them guidance for self-quarantine for two weeks.” The course syllabus outlines six modules that are clearly focused on preparing learners to both understand the disease and effectively perform the contact tracing necessary to fight against it.
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
The pandemic is emptying call centers. AI chatbots are swooping in - Karen Hao, MIT Technology Review
Covid-19 is accelerating job losses in an industry that was already automating work at a rapid pace. As the coronavirus crisis has dragged on, understaffed government agencies, grocery stores, and financial services have all scrambled to set up similar systems for handling a new influx of calls. IBM saw a 40% increase in traffic to Watson Assistant from February to April of this year. In April, Google also launched the Rapid Response Virtual Agent, a special version of its Contact Center AI, and lowered the price of its service in response to client demand.
President Speaks: Government relief won't be enough for higher ed. 'We must save ourselves' - Michael Alexander, Education Dive
The big question outstanding is whether higher education institutions will band together to save our system of higher education, in the same way that members of our communities have rallied to withstand the crisis for the benefit of students. Will leaders and trustees put aside their standard ways of doing business, and their emotional attachments to tradition and identity, to invent new ways of conducting business, to accept new ways of collaborating or consolidating, and to be creative and ingenious in altering curricula and modes of delivery in order to lower costs in a big way?
Tuesday, May 26, 2020
The shift to online learning and skills training shows promising trends and troubling signs - Jeannette Sanchez, International Labour Organization
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an abrupt transition to distance education, training and e-learning. The crisis has resulted in massive shifts to online platforms and tools for the continued delivery of learning and skills development, which have shown both promising trends and troubling signs. Among those signs, the evidence that, while much is being made of digital learning making access more equitable, access to online platforms doesn’t always result in equal quality learning. Women, for example, are being disproportionately cut off from distance learning due to lack of childcare or home help during the pandemic.
A new frontier of online learning means redoubling efforts to address inequities. It means addressing the challenges not only posed by traditional classes, but by hands-on components like labs or education paths such as nursing or career tech. And it means finding ways for faculty to meaningfully connect online with students and each other in these difficult, isolating times.
Another pandemic-related threat to universities: falling numbers of graduate students - MATT KRUPNICK, Hechinger Report
Even before the new threats, some schools’ graduate enrollment — and revenue — was dropping. Until recently, graduate students had generally remained a bright spot in higher education, continuing to show up at colleges and universities and helping institutions balance their books even as undergraduate enrollment dramatically declined. But even before the pandemic, there were signs that the once-reliable flow of graduate students and the money they bring with them was beginning to slow. And now, when that money may be needed most, school leaders and researchers fear that these numbers could plummet.
Monday, May 25, 2020
If there was one scenario -- besides being back to normal or fully remote in the fall -- that we hear more about than others, it would be a HyFlex Model. This may be because a hybrid or high-flexibility approach is relatively easy to envision. In a HyFlex course, courses are delivered both in person and online at the same time by the same faculty member. Students can then choose for each and every class meeting whether to show up for class in person or to join it online. The underlying design ethos behind the HyFlex Model is flexibility and student choice.
Graduation is always an anxious time for young people on the threshold of the “real world,” but COVID-19 has created new uncertainties. For Generation Z, students’ final semesters are not exactly going as planned. Rather than celebrating with friends, many are worrying about finding a job while living in their childhood bedrooms. In recent years, I held career seminars for students across the country (with those tips published here). During this era of social distancing, I’ve moved these discussions online and adapted my advice.
University of Nebraska–Lincoln broadcasting professor Barney McCoy has studied this age group as part of his ongoing national research on digital distractions in the classroom. As education in America makes a historic technology shift in the face of COVID-19, instructors may face some unexpected challenges and pleasant surprises with today’s college students. His third survey of student use of digital devices in college classrooms was published April 15 in the Journal of Media Education. His survey of more than 1,000 students in 2018 and 2019 found a decrease in the amount of time and number of times Gen Z students used smartphones and other devices for non-class purposes during the school day.
Sunday, May 24, 2020
Using 360 Virtual Reality to Make Experiential Learning Accessible to All - Lynn Long, Gillian Dabrowski and Anne Grant, EDUCAUSE
In March 2019, it became apparent that there was growing interest among faculty and staff on our campus in using virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) to enhance teaching and learning. Consequently, last May, the VR/AR Community of Practice was born. One of the first potential projects the group discussed was in response to an accessibility concern. Typically, students who are enrolled in ENVS200, a second-year field ecology course, are required to attend a field trip that involves a 1.5 km hike over uneven terrain. We needed to provide alternatives for those who could not perform this physical activity.
Forever changed: SIUE, Lewis and Clark Community College embrace remote learning lessons - David Blanchette, Alton Evening Telegraph
Sonderegger said SIUE decided early during the pandemic to make a strong commitment to uphold the learning objectives and pace of the school’s courses once the switch was made to virtual learning. The goal was to avoid disrupting the student-teacher bond, the application of skills and the course content. “I personally stuck to my course design and my syllabus while revising a few assignments to fit an online model,” Sonderegger said.
For the past few decades, it has been noted that one of the biggest problems of education in the age of disruption is that it has stubbornly resisted being disrupted. The danger of clinging to traditional paradigms is the continuously producing graduates who are not well-enough equipped to thrive in the times of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR), because they haven’t had sufficient opportunity and guidance to develop critical 21st Century skills.
Saturday, May 23, 2020
Distance learning was already on the rise at Virginia higher-ed institutions before the COVID-19 epidemic prompted college administrators to send students home and complete their classes online. Many faculty and administrators are hoping that they can revert to the status quo of good o’d fashioned face-to-face classes when the epidemic subsides. But will normalcy be restored? Or will the flirtation with online classes accelerate the spread of distance education?
While a sudden move to virtual learning somewhat surprised students and faculty, the shift can bring about some unexpected benefits. The good news is that virtual learning can be just as informative, engaging, and impactful as physical learning. The key to success will come down to acknowledging the need for change and a willingness to adopt new processes and tools that could make remote learning less stressful and more impactful. Change is never easy, and I completely understand that. For that reason, I wanted to share a few examples of how virtual learning can be a good thing during these uncertain times.
The parent of a student attending George Washington University in the nation’s capital — where tuition for a single semester ranges between $25,875 and $29,275 — has filed a lawsuit against the school claiming the online education his daughter is getting is not worth what is being paid to the school. The parent, Mark Shaffer of Pennsylvania, is not alone in feeling this way. His lawsuit filed last week is the latest in a growing class of litigation against colleges and universities over their spring tuition rates, The Washington Post reported.
Friday, May 22, 2020
Below, you’ll find a syllabus intended to help you advance from emergency remote instruction toward more substantive practices and philosophies. The recommended readings and key concepts were suggested by experts across higher ed. Main contributors are credited at the end.
The rise of online learning raises questions about the price we put on education - Anirban Mukhopadhyay, Quartz India
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused educational institutions worldwide to go online, and the current debate about the value of online education is analogous. Just as an e-book must be cheaper than a regular book, some people feel that an online class must be cheaper. Others feel that online education is inadequate because of decreased human interaction. However, for every such comment, I have heard its opposite and more. Indeed, many students have reported that they are interacting more in class than ever before. Not only is it easier for a hesitant student to communicate using text, they now see professors up close and personal rather than at a distance of 20 metres and over the backs of multiple heads, and this is a generation that likes communicating through screens.
Privacy concerns over online learning grow at the university - Matthieu Schneider, University of Delaware Review
As the university heads toward final exam week in a semester confined to remote learning, concerns regarding online safety and privacy have come to the attention of many students. Right off the bat, classes had been hit with Zoom bombing, or targeted hacks into video lectures via the Zoom platform. “Moving everything online is just a bigger risk to my privacy,” Ali Keane, a junior fashion sustainability major, said. “I don’t need my identity stolen or accounts hacked because of circumstances out of my control.”
Thursday, May 21, 2020
Move to online learning has positives and negatives for students with disabilities - ITLIN BROWNE, Daily Bruin
Many students with disabilities have faced challenges related to online learning. The Center for Accessible Education, an office that provides accommodations to students with disabilities at UCLA, has received more accommodation requests than before the transition to online learning, said Norma Kehdi, the CAE associate director of counseling services, in an emailed statement. Students have reported difficulties handling distractions and procrastination, have struggled to adjust to the new learning system or have seen their conditions worsened by pandemic-related stressors, Kehdi said. However, some students enrolled in CAE have requested fewer of their usual accommodations this quarter.
Dance students adjust to curriculum changes, self-accountability of online learning - YASMIN MADJIDI, Daily Bruin
Online learning for dance students has not quite been en pointe. The switch to virtual classes has left dance students searching for ideal spaces to move, relying on self-accountability to stay motivated, said third-year dance student Justin Gamboa. Although professors have adapted their course materials to mold to the spaces each dancer has available to them through increased journaling and posting the dances online ahead of class, Gamboa said it has been difficult to get an individualized experience. He said he chose to stay enrolled this quarter because the close community within the dance program provides support during this stressful time of uncertainty.
The flexibility to learn and earn a degree online allows students nationwide - from full-time employees to single parents and more - to achieve goals while managing family and life. Millions of students study online today, and those numbers are only increasing. While online education provides students with a range of opportunities, it also can present challenges of learning in a new environment. Arizona State University staff and students who teach and study online offer their tips to help ensure your success.