For the higher education business model to change, faculty need to be key partners in this effort. We have learned from this crisis that faculty, who have often been characterized as slow and loathe to change, can be extraordinarily nimble and creative. Beyond moving all of their courses online in less than two weeks, many have been exploring all the ways to use their new technology. Those new to zoom have learned how to put their students into break-out rooms and foster engaged discussion. Some have been experimenting with using simulation and gaming software in their courses. Some faculty with whom I have talked are like kids in a candy store with the new “toys” at their disposal.
Faculty at several schools have developed new courses in little more than a month that are directly relevant to the virus. Northland College, a private liberal arts colleges founded in 1892 in Ashland, WI., had no on-line courses before the March 13th suspension of face-to-face instruction. Led by four junior faculty, joined by eleven other faculty from a variety of disciplines including biology, sociology and music, a very unique virtual four-week course was developed as a part of the College’s May term: Pandemic! Northland Unites. The College has made the course available free to the public This course provides lectures, reading materials, provocative questions and discussion groups. The lectures are being uploaded on the website each week and the first week’s lectures are now up on the site. The course includes sections on the history of pandemics, epidemiology of infectious disease, public health principles, biology of viruses, cost benefit analysis of social isolation, philosophy of hope and despair, public land use and changing recreation patterns, and the poetry and music of pandemics. Fifty students registered the first day that the course was posted and now more than eighty students are registered. more than two hundred community members from all over the world registered.
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