by Terri E. Givens
As institutions look to the Fall, there remains a great deal of uncertainty about the mode of instruction that will be needed, given that a second wave of the pandemic is expected. Many institutions are planning to end their terms by Thanksgiving, so that they won’t have students returning at a time when the coronavirus may be spreading again, as noted in this article in the New York Times:
As colleges make plans to bring students back to campus, alongside discussions of mask requirements and half-empty classrooms, one common strategy is emerging: Forgoing fall break and getting students home before Thanksgiving.
The University of South Carolina, Notre Dame, Rice and Creighton are among the schools that have said they will find ways to shorten the fall semester, in an attempt to avoid a “second wave” of coronavirus infections expected to emerge in late fall.
Built into their calculations, university officials say, are epidemiological assumptions that reducing travel will help students avoid contracting and spreading the virus, and that any easing of the pandemic this summer will end with the return of flu season.
However, there is also a strong possibility that institutions will need to teach remotely, and faculty will need to be prepared for that eventuality. There are many options for training faculty in online teaching, including the following events, shared by instructional designer Karen Costa:
Camp Operation Online Learning aka COOL (Online Learning Toolkit): June 1st to July 10, 2020 Camp Operation Online Learning (COOL) is a six-week summer course design group that will guide you through the process of developing your online courses for fall. Led by dynamic facilitators who are experts in online learning, COOL is dedicated to making the course design process accessible and enjoyable for higher educators at every level of experience and technology fluency.
Lecture Breakers Virtual Summer Conference: June 16-18, 2020 Go beyond the podcast! Get more ideas, advice, and resources you can use to break up your lectures, increase student engagement, and improve learning.
Strategies for Facilitating Live, Online Sessions (OLC): August 19-21 You’ll gain the skills needed to present to students, faculty, and/or staff. Strategies will include best practices in online engagement built on a foundation of enjoyment, inspiration, and passion for teaching. Brain-based teaching strategies will help you keep people engaged and focused, harnessing the knowledge of how the brain learns best to boost your attendees’ learning and growth. In addition to the live session that will model effective online presentation skills, attendees will also participate in asynchronous online discussions and complete assigned readings on effective presentation skills to maximize their learning from this event.
And institutions need to keep in mind that accreditation and assessment are important as they manage their online courses. The Institute for Effectiveness in Higher Education is helping institutions keep on top of accreditation issues with online learning with a series of articles, noting that it is critically important that institutions not postpone their accreditation activities:
FOUR ACCREDITATION ACTION STEPS
So, what should institutions be thinking about to ensure future accreditation efforts aren’t jeopardized by current actions?
See more in their “Forward Thinking” Series.