Universities and Coronavirus: how to face the challenge

All over the world, measures are beginning to be taken to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, and one of the organizations most affected by these restrictions are Universities. In United States, the university authorities have indicated that their face-to-face classes have been suspended and for the next few months they will continue only online, with educational platforms and experiences already underway for several years

In Argentina, the low temperature season of the winter period is approaching and there is a great possibility that similar restrictions will arise for face-to-face classes. And with a few exceptions, a large number of educational institutions do not yet have a central strategy in place for teaching classes online, which presents a great challenge to adapt to a profound transformation in a short time.

We share below some ideas and strategies that can be useful to successfully face and cope with change.

"The greatest danger, in times of turbulence, is not the turbulence, but acting with the logic of yesterday." peter drucker

One of the first factors to take into account is that online teaching is a different paradigm from the face-to-face modality.. Not better, not worse... just different. This implies that there are elements that are essential in the physical world that are not required in the digital environment and vice versa. So, the leaders of change in these institutions must focus on innovation, and not on the mere replacement of activities.

A digital training strategy for a University could include:

1. A technological platform containing the educational activity (known as LMS –Learning Management System), which allows the management of courses, with their respective students and contents, with the articulation of the instructors and teachers of each subject. There are many alternatives, but one should be considered that understands in detail the logic and dynamics of an educational institution, which is much more complex than that required for training in a company. It must include calendars, correlations, peer evaluation, discussion forums, advanced evaluations (not only multiple choice, but also the possibility for students to upload essays or practical work), among other elements.

2. Arm Instructional Design team, with specialists in pedagogy and technology, who carry out the planning of the generation of course content together with the teachers and then upload them to the platform with the specific parameters of each course.

3. Define a content generation strategy:

  • They may be recorded contents, that each teacher records by capturing their screen and making a report of the class, written materials (presentations, PDFs, etc), or other more advanced content (interactive videos, discussion forums, etc)
  • They can enable dictation of classes live, via streaming. In this case, the institution can define guidelines to unify the experience from the students' point of view. For example, create a streaming kit for each teacher (an HD webcam, a suitable light and a banner for the wallpaper) in order to maintain the branding of the institution. In this case, a storage module and a recording management and publication process should be considered.

4. Design a hybrid dictation scheme (blended learning) that complements the activities that must necessarily be done in person, such as a laboratory test, with the online theoretical complement.

5. Reorganize internal processes, to guarantee a smooth management of the relationship between teachers and the instructional design team, in order to provide a quality pedagogical experience.

Many crises are opportunities for change, and the current challenge seems to be in line with this statement.

With change-oriented leadership and educational innovation, this transformation can be implemented quickly and effectively, regardless of the scale of the organization.

En aulasneo We have a team dedicated exclusively to the migration of educational institutions from the face-to-face environment to the online modality. We provide our online training platform (LMS) based on technology Open edX (developed by Harvard, MiT & Stanford) from where we develop solutions and new functions tailored to each organization.

Esteban Etcheverry

CEO & Co-founder of aulasneo.com