The University of Illinois Had a Comprehensive Anti-Virus Plan, but Students Partied On

IBL News | New York

The most comprehensive plans to limit the COVID-19 virus’ spread can break down when students party on.

The New York Times yesterday narrated the case of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where over 40,000 students take tests twice a week, cannot enter campus building unless an app vouches that they test negative, and everyone wears a mask.

University scientists developed a quick, inexpensive saliva test, and other researchers put together a detailed computer simulation, modeling the movements of everyone on campus–including some little partying of students.

However, enough students continued to go to parties even after testing positive, dismissing commands from public health officials. Common sense was absent. Partying after receiving a positive test result wasn’t on anyone’s expectation.

Some fraternities and sororities, as well as some off-campus housing, throw large parties and gatherings ignoring containment plans.

Some of the infected students even tried to circumvent the app so they could enter buildings instead of staying isolated in their rooms, university administrators said in a letter to students.

Last week, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reported an uprising in cases and imposed a lockdown. Students had to stay in their off-campus dorms.

Some of the students who tested positive even tried to circumvent the app so that they could enter buildings instead of staying isolated in their rooms.

Analysis: UX / UI Will Determine the Success or Failure of Your Next Web Project

IBL News | New York

Today, creating memorable and effective user experiences adjusted to the target audience determines ultimately the success or failure of any web enterprise.

Consumers have millions of products to choose from. What separates the excellent from the mediocre comes down from the user experience.

The UX (user experience) design process starts by understanding the psychology of the user. It needs to effectively address the user’s desire to find the information quickly and convince him or her to come back.

The UI (user interface) layout should be designed to engage the audience, identifying the type of actions the user will take, whether it’s requesting more information, signing up for a service, or purchasing a product.

That’s when visuals, blocks of content, intuitive navigation, logical structure, call to action buttons, and other interactions will all come together.

UX and UI designers will start by keeping sight of businesses’ branding, marketing goals, and corporate strategy. They then put themselves in the user’s shoes, anticipating their motivators and turn-offs. Instead of making assumptions, by conducting user testing, surveys, and research on how people interact, it removes the guesswork and provides a starting point.

Consider also that consumer habits change. A website that left people satisfied two years ago, may now be less effective. It’s interesting to check the latest trends in web design.

Tools like FlowMappStormboard, and Whimsical can help construct user flows, determining how a design needs to be structured to later building a wireframe and prototype. Lastly, usability testing is the final step before the project goes live.

The golden rule on UX, UI, and usability processes, is to keep users at the center.

ResourceUX design process: a simple (but complete) guide

 

President Trump Pushes Universities to Reopen Despite a Spike of Virus Infections

IBL News | New York

President Trump urged universities to continue reopening their campuses, even as some institutions have reported clusters of COVID-19 outbreaks and hundreds of new cases.

We have learned one thing, there’s nothing like campus there’s nothing like being with a teacher as opposed to being on a computer board,” Trump said during a White House press briefing yesterday. “The iPads are wonderful but you’re not going to learn the same way as being there.”

President Donald Trump blasted universities that have canceled in-person classes, arguing that the virus is akin to the seasonal flu for college students–despite the commonly shared view of health experts that the novel coronavirus is deadlier than the flu and more easily transmitted.

“For older people and individuals with underlying conditions, the China virus is very dangerous, but for university students, the likelihood of severe illness is less than or equal to the risk of the seasonal flu.”

Currently, universities are rethinking opening plans after a spike in infections in the last week as students returned to campus. The pressure is mounting to close campuses. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill decided on Monday to suspend in-person classes for the fall. Notre DameMichigan State University, and The University of Pittsburgh also pivoted to online-only classes for undergraduates before they arrive on campus.

The COVID-19 virus is already spreading through colleges mostly because of off-campus parties, and daily life in sororities and fraternities. A recent example was known yesterday. Last weekend at the University of Alabama, in Tuscaloosa, bars and sidewalks were crowded with sorority members and other students reveling in their return-to-school rituals, sparking the fury of university officials.

Also, yesterday, The New York Times linked at least 251 cases of the virus to fraternities and sororities across the country, including in Washington, North Carolina, Berkeley, Calif., and Oxford, Miss.

 

More Colleges Expected to Follow UNC’s Switch to Remote Learning Amid a Surge of Covid Cases

IBL News | New York

Experts predicted yesterday that many colleges will follow the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s decision to backtrack plans to reopen its campus for in-person learning and shift to remote learning amid a surge of COVID-19 cases among students.

For now, two major research universities have announced to reverse plans to resume in-person instruction, although at a smaller scale than UNC. The University of Notre Dame decided yesterday to suspend in-person classes for almost 12,000 students, moving undergraduate classes online for two weeks while keeping students on campus. Michigan State asked undergraduates who had planned to live in residence halls to stay home.

Crowded, mask-free parties at Oklahoma State University, Notre Dame, Iowa State, Villanova, and other colleges took place over the weekend. The lack of social distancing, along with dorm contact environments, are predictable scenarios for the spread of the pandemic–epidemiologists claim.

UNC-Chapel Hill decided to move all undergraduate classes online starting today Wednesday, while it offered students the opportunity to cancel residence hall requests with no penalty.

The announcement on Monday followed reports of four Coronavirus clusters over three days in dorms, apartments and a fraternity house. As a result, 130 students tested positive.

As of Monday morning, 954 students were tested, 177 students were put in isolation and another 349 in quarantine.

This week, UNC’s infectious disease experts are making changes to de-densify campus.

“As much as we believe we have worked diligently to help create a healthy and safe campus living and learning environment, we believe the current data presents an untenable situation,” UNC-Chapel Hill’s Chancellor, Kevin M. Guskiewicz, and Provost, Robert A. Blouin, wrote in a statement.

In April, the interim president of the UNC announced that he wanted all campuses to re-open in the fall. In August, the UNC Board of Governors announced their mandate for campuses to reopen. Last week they all got their way, with the dorms at UNC re-opening at full capacity, despite faculty and staff workers’ protests.

Yesterday, the editorial board for the Daily Tar Heel, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s student newspaper, called out university leadership after the outbreak.

“Everybody told the university not to reopen, and it was only a matter of time,” said Nikhil Rao, a student government senior adviser who has participated in online meetings with provost Bob Blouin every month since April along with other student leaders. “I would be shocked if I didn’t know this was going to happen.”

Meanwhile, university officials are blaming off-campus parties and activities for the surge in COVID-19 cases.

Children’s Learning Worldwide Is a Priority But 818 Million Students Lack Basic Hand Washing

IBL News | New York

Access to hand washing stations, cleaning and disinfection, and safe toilets are key requirements for safe reopening children’s schools worldwide –United Nations officials told IBL News.

There are 1.6 billion students in 190 countries. According to UN data, roughly 43%, that is, 818 million lack access to basic handwashing facilities at school, with soap and water. A third of them are in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The COVID-19 virus pandemic has created the largest disruption to education ever recorded. And the lack of hand hygiene and clean water in half of the student population dramatically aggravates the crisis.

“Access to water, sanitation, and hygiene services are essential for effective infection prevention and control in all settings, including schools”, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, General Manager at the World Health Organization, this week. “It must be a major focus of government strategies for the safe reopening and operation of schools during the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic.”

A report built on reopening guidelines published on Thursday 13th by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, encouraged governments to seek control of coronavirus spread by balancing the need for implementing public health measures against the social and economic impacts of lockdown measures. There is substantial evidence of the negative impacts of prolonged school closures on children.

Henrietta Fore, Executive Director at UNICEF, stated, “We must prioritize children’s learning, making sure that schools are safe to reopen.”

Resource: Unicef.org: 2 in 5 schools around the world lacked basic handwashing facilities prior to COVID-19 pandemic 

 

The University of Arizona Becomes a Relevant Player in Online Education by Buying Ashford

IBL News | New York

The University of Arizona (UA) made a big play into the online market by acquiring the for-profit college Ashford University–with 35,000 students–and is creating a new private, nonprofit entity called the University of Arizona Global Campus.

The move, announced on Monday, shakes up the online higher education sphere and can signal more changes.

This way, the University of Arizona will become a relevant player in the digital education and compete with Arizona State University (ASU), University of Phoenix, and Grand Canyon University.

The Tucson-based public university–currently with only 4,200 students enrolled online–said that the Global Campus will focus on students who are typically underrepresented in higher education, like older adults, parents, and veterans.

Ashford University, a fully online university property of Zovio Inc. (Nasdaq: ZVO) education technology services company, moved to the Phoenix area from San Diego last year. Ashford is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges’ Senior College and University Commission.

UA is purchasing Ashford University for $1 from Zovio, but will share 19.5 percent of its tuition revenue for 15 years with Zovio, formerly known as Bridgepoint Education. In addition, Zovio will still provide education technology services to the Global Campus under a long-term agreement, UA said.

The transaction is expected to be completed later this year, after regulatory approvals are granted and the deal is finalized.

A similar, controversial arrangement deal was reached between Purdue University and Kaplan University, resulting in the formation of Purdue University Global.

The newly created Global Campus will be a private nonprofit university, not public like UA. It will appoint the initial board of trustees with long-term membership on the board, along with a president for the Global Campus.

View: Education and Training as a Tool to Attract Customers and Enhance Presence on Google

IBL News | New York

Organizations are increasingly using education and training-based content as a tool to attract customers.

As the effectiveness of traditional online marketing continues to decline, education-powered marketing is gaining ground.

It not only builds trust with customers by providing them an intellectual betterment, but it also fuels existing content and marketing strategies.

Google’s craving for renewed and original content gets answered with new education and training related lessons, lectures, and resources.

This valuable knowledge posted online can be enhanced with certificates. Innovative organizations are understanding the importance of providing some sort of certification.

This is a list of some of the companies that apply education-based marketing:


• Hubspot

• Adobe

• Nvidia

• IBM

• Salesforce

• Databricks

• Hootsuite (Hootsuite Academy)

• Slack

• Autodesk

• AWS

• Mint

• Microsoft

2U Reported Second Quarter Loss of $66 M; Stock Improved 83% This Year

IBL News | New York

2U (Nasdaq: TWOU) came out yesterday with a reported loss of $66.2 million and revenues of $182.7 million in its second quarter ended June 30. Loss per share was 34 cents, better than Zacks’ analysts expected of 44 cents.

The stock went up 1.36% yesterday until $43.87. Since the beginning of the year, shares increased 83% versus the S&P 500’s gain of 0.9%. The rise of the stock was 20% in the last 12 month.

The Lanham, Maryland-based OPM provider presented a different picture of its quarter earnings. It highlighted its revenue increase of 35% to $182.7 million compared to the second quarter of 2019. It added: “Graduate program segment revenue increased 14% to $115.7 million and Alternative Credential Segment revenue increased 97% to $67.0 million, including $36.6 million in revenue from Trilogy, acquired in May 2019.”

“In these complex and challenging times, the importance of 2U’s mission and the value we deliver for our partners and their students has never been more clear,” Co-Founder and CEO, Christopher “Chip” Paucek said. “As universities accelerate their digital transformations and more students affirmatively choose to pursue an education online, we believe our strong relationships with leading universities and the unmatched scale and quality of our portfolio of offerings position us well for future growth.”

“We are driving significant improvement in key profitability and cash flow metrics while maintaining quality, enhancing operational efficiency, and executing on growth opportunities,” said Chief Financial Officer, Paul Lalljie. “We delivered a significant improvement in free cash flow in the second quarter and expect to achieve EBITDA profitability next quarter and for the full year. We also increased our financial flexibility with our recent convertible senior notes offering and revolving line of credit.”

New International Students Barred for Any F-1 or M-1 Visa for Online Programs

IBL News | New York

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said on a new guidance document that international students won’t obtain an F-1 or M-1 visa to enroll in online programs in the U.S.

“New or initial nonimmigrant students who intend to pursue a full course of study that will be conducted completely online will likely not be able to obtain an F-1 or M-1 visa to study in the United States,” stated ICE on its latest document released July 24.

However, students can remain in the United States if they are already engaged in a fully online program as they do not need a new visa.

The new guidance from U.S. immigration officials confirms the validity of the approach adopted by Harvard University and the University of Southern California (USC) when advised newly admitted international students who require F-1 visa sponsorship not to come to the U.S.

According to immigration experts quoted by Inside of Higher Ed, it is still not clear whether international students may obtain visas for hybrid programs consisting of a mix of in-person and online courses.

Coursera Valued at $2.5 Billion After a Finance Round of Additional $130 Million

IBL News | New York

Coursera yesterday announced that it raised an additional $130 million, as part of a Series F round, which was led by NEA –an investor in the trading platform Robinhood– and joined by existing investors Kleiner Perkins, SEEK Group, Learn Capital, SuRo Capital Corp, and G Squared.

This is the biggest funding round for a U.S. education technology company in 2020.

Investors are valuing the company at a reported $2.5 billion. To date, Coursera has raised $464 million.

The company’s CEO, Jeff Maggioncalda, assured that “this financing brings the company’s cash balance to more than $300 million.”

The additional funding will be used “to double down on our product and engineering efforts, expand our job-relevant catalog, and further grow our international presence,” explained Maggioncalda.

“In particular, it gives us the flexibility to meet the considerable demand for two of our COVID-focused initiatives — Campus Response Initiative to help universities teach impacted students and Workforce Recovery Initiative to help governments reskill unemployed workers.”

The ongoing pandemic has accelerated the expansion of Coursera, which has added 15 million new users since March. Currently, it sums
65 million learners and it houses 4,500 courses with 160 university partners and 40 companies including Google and IBM. Its workforce accounts 600 employees.

Since the company announced on March 12 a free offer on Coursera for Campus on March 12, over 10,000 institutions have signed up, and enrollments have spiked 500 percent over the previous spring, with 1.3 million students taking courses.

These numbers have been used to appeal to venture capitalists, always interested in detecting major market changes.

Coursera continues aiming for an IPO, although it has not any date on the horizon yet.

 

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