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Inside Higher Ed: A Dry Run at a Socially Distanced Classroom

Part of WiFi (What I Find Interesting) Wednesday.


Inside Higher Ed: A Dry Run at a Socially Distanced Classroom

Read A Dry Run at a Socially Distanced Classroom by Anna McLoon and Sarah K. Berke, from Inside Higher Ed, August 3, 2020.

This fall, there are many unknowns about how an in-person semester will operate. Or how a hybrid model will be successful. And even how to integrate outdoor learning, if possible. Thankfully, faculty at Siena College published an opinion article in Inside Higher Ed that was timely and useful. Has your own institution made plans to resolve any of the issues they identified?

To prepare for the upcoming fall semester, faculty members in the School of Science at Siena College tested three scenarios for a socially distanced classroom based on published guidelines from the New York State Governor’s Office and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Given our class sizes, we have had to plan for some students to take courses in person and a portion of the class to connect remotely. We took an empirical approach to: 1) evaluate how the classroom functions given recommended masking and six-foot spacing, 2) examine how easily in-person and remote students can interact, and 3) identify unforeseen logistical challenges.

by Anna McLoon and Sarah K. Berke, from Inside Higher Ed, August 3, 2020.

Some of their findings include:

  • Masks and spacing make it difficult to hear and be heard.
  • People rely on visual communication cues more than they realize.
  • In-person students had difficulty interacting with Zoom students and vice versa. 
  • If students are joining on Zoom, a tablet is essential.
  • Lectures go more smoothly than group work.
  • Outdoor classes work but require more structure than indoors.
  • Transitions between classes will cause traffic jams and lapses in social distancing.
  • The workload of faculty members and IT professionals will be substantially higher than usual. 

With days or weeks before many institutions bring larger groups of students back to their campuses, we can only hope that similar data will drive decisions. And if not, then hopefully common sense and the ability to move to remote learning and work will resume.

Continue reading A Dry Run at a Socially Distanced Classroom by Anna McLoon and Sarah K. Berke, from Inside Higher Ed, August 3, 2020.


EdSurge.com: How to Assess Learning in a Pandemic

Listen to How to Assess Learning in a Pandemic by Rebecca Koenig, from EdSurge.com, Jul 29, 2020.

Producers for EdSurge Live interviewed two professors about how to approach exams, essays, and other assessments during the Fall 2020 semester:

  • Susan D. Blum, professor of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame, is the author of “I Love Learning; I Hate School: An Anthropology of College,” and a contributor to the forthcoming book, “Ungrading: Why Rating Students Undermines Learning (and What to Do Instead).”
  • Tony Crider, professor of astrophysics at Elon University, offers his students “epic finales” instead of final exams.

I’m curious what your thoughts are about assessments are for this time of pandemic and the upcoming semester. What approach are you taking? What do you recommend?

Blum: One of the things that a lot of us have really been thinking hard about is equity, and equity when people are in uneven circumstances doesn’t mean sameness. And so I think ungrading makes a lot of sense in these particular circumstances. Most of my students have Wi-Fi, and most of them have the tools they need at least on campus. But when they went home in March, there were people who were very crammed into housing, and they were sharing Wi-Fi, [or had] no Wi-Fi. They didn’t have good computers with them. And so if I had been a stickler for uniformity and precision—grading and points and attendance and participation in synchronous meetings—it would basically have measured people’s economic comfort. And that doesn’t seem to me what we’re after.

Crider: I’m at an institution where there’s a lot of technology that’s the same. Economically, they’re very similar. There are 95 percent of them that have an iPhone. Which makes it such that I can design for that. And I know that’s not the case at other universities where you’ve got a wider range of tech or maybe poor connection when they get out of there. And if they’re not able to come to campus, that’s going to have to be on a case-by-case basis with instructors and the students, sort of trying to figure out what the minimum technology is in that class and how to do that.

The tech, it’s causing us problems, but it provides opportunities. I tend to look at the pandemic we’re in in terms of technology and education. We’ve all suddenly been thrust forward 10 years into the future. … We’ll adapt to it.

by Rebecca Koenig, from EdSurge.com, Jul 29, 2020.

Continue listening to How to Assess Learning in a Pandemic by Rebecca Koenig, from EdSurge.com, Jul 29, 2020.


Harvard Business Review: 4 Conversations Leaders in the #MeToo Era Should Be Ready For

Read Four Conversations Leaders in the #MeToo Era Should Be Ready For by Sarah Beaulieu, from Harvard Business Review, August 12, 2020

COVID-19 rightfully should be on the forefront of our thoughts when thinking about the current reality and future of higher education. But we can’t forget about all the other important conversations we need to have around equity, inclusion, and justice. Sarah Beaulieu in Harvard Business Review reminds us about four important topics that leaders need to be prepared to have to continue our work addressing harassment and hostile work environments.

[G]ood leadership is not just about responding to incidents when they occur. It’s also about being prepared to navigate the difficult conversations that help prevent sexual harassment in the first place. The more you practice and prepare for these uncomfortable conversations, the more likely you are to respond in ways that support your team and make your organization a positive place to work.

by Sarah Beaulieu, from Harvard Business Review, August 12, 2020

1. The disclosure conversation

“Both culturally and legally, disclosure is the ultimate high-stakes conversation. Without formal reports of harassment, companies cannot hold perpetrators accountable and prevent them from continuing to behave inappropriately. However, there are real reasons why employees are reluctant to report, including a fear of not being believed, fear of retaliation, and fear of too small or too big a response. Each time disclosure is handled with empathy and respect, it helps to rebuild organizational trust.”

2. The intervention conversation

“There is a spectrum of problematic behavior in the workplace, ranging from minor red flags to obvious harassment or even violence. The earlier you intervene, the better positioned you will be to prevent major problems. Many leaders confuse an intervention conversation with a call-out conversation, which is the most direct form of intervention. The purpose of an intervention conversation is to restore safety and promote a culture of respect.”

3. The culture conversation

“As a leader, it’s up to you to proactively signal that safety and respect are important to the culture you want to build. When leaders wait until an incident takes place to discuss sexual harassment with their teams, they often come across sounding opaque or defensive. Skilled leaders find ways to broach the topic of sexual harassment – and its impact on the team – on a regular basis. Do you ever talk about sexual harassment at your all-hands meetings? Have you asked human resources to brief the executive team on your current policies and reporting structures? Have you asked sales managers what they are doing to prevent sexual harassment with clients or customers? Does your company participate in sexual assault awareness month?”

4. The support conversation

“Disclosures aren’t always about incidents that happened at work. Given that one in four womenone in six men and one in two transgender employees will experience sexual abuse or assault in their lifetime, this topic may arise in the course of your working relationships. When someone shares something like this from their past, it’s a moment to express empathy by saying something like, “I appreciate you trusting me enough to tell me,” or “I’m sorry that happened to you.” It’s also worth checking in on their safety and support network. You can simply ask, “Are you receiving the help and support you need right now?” Or, “Do you have people in your life that you can talk to about this?”

Continue reading Four Conversations Leaders in the #MeToo Era Should Be Ready For by Sarah Beaulieu, from Harvard Business Review, August 12, 2020


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