TECH-DIGEST

Universities Gear Up for an Uncertain Fall Semester Online

 

The disruption of last semester doesn’t mean that online education is inherently worse than in-person instruction or can’t be done well, says Rob Elliott, senior lecturer of computer and informational technology at IUPUI, Indiana University, and Purdue University’s shared campus in Indianapolis. It just needs to be designed thoughtfully, with expectations communicated clearly to students.

“If there’s anything I would like to see, it’s that we stop trying to compare what we wish the semester could be and instead talk about what we are actually able to provide,” he says. Elliott, who’s not paid over the summer, expects to spend “weeks” fine-tuning his lesson plans for the fall. He recently bought a green screen to create more exciting video backgrounds for his students.

 All schools can do now is prepare for the uncertainties of fall. All summer long, Cal State Fullerton’s IT department has been ordering hundreds and hundreds of laptops. Last year, the school distributed 300 laptops, 235 personal hot spots, and 50 flip phones, along with webcams and headsets to students who requested them. Now, the school is using federal grants to purchase an additional 1,500 laptops and 500 personal hot spots. The devices will be ready to distribute to students in the fall, through a glass-covered pickup station in the library, ready for them to enter their student credentials and log in to the first day of school.

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