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.

 

Harvard and Princeton Will Deliver Their Classes Online This Fall; Backlash for Keeping Full Tuition

IBL News | New York

All Harvard University undergraduate and graduate students for the 2020-21 academic year will take their classes online due to the COVID pandemic–the university announced on Monday. Tuition won’t be affected.

“Students will learn remotely, whether or not they live on campus,” the institution said.

Only 40% of its undergraduates, including all first-year students, will live on campus –in single bedrooms with a shared bathroom.

“This will enable first-year students to benefit from a supported transition to college-level academic work and to begin to build their Harvard relationships with faculty and peers,” the officials wrote.

“Both online and dorm-based programs will be in place to meet these needs. Over the last few weeks, there has been frequent communication with our first-year students about their transition to Harvard and this will continue as we approach the start of the academic year.”

“We also will invite back to campus those students who may not be able to learn successfully in their current home learning environment.”

Harvard University faced backlash on Twitter for keeping its annual tuition prices of $49,653 per year despite the Ivy League institution’s decision to continue with online coursework. Fox Business collected tweets protesting for Harvard’s full-tuition.

 

Also, Princeton University announced that most academic instruction will remain online.

“Based on the information now available to us, we believe Princeton will be able to offer all of our undergraduate students at least one semester of on-campus education this academic year, but we will need to do much of our teaching online and remotely,” Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber said in his message to the university community.

First-year students and juniors will be allowed to return to campus for the fall semester, while sophomores and seniors will be welcomed back in the spring semester.

Princeton is offering 10% discounted tuition for the school year.

Last week, Yale University announced a similar plan to limit the number of people on campus. Yale will reopen in the fall without sophomores living on campus and then will be open in the spring without freshmen living on campus.

The University of Southern California announced it is dropping plans to have undergraduate students back in the classroom and instead will offer most classes online.

Courses, Strategies, and Resources to Get The Most From Learning with edX and Coursera

IBL News | New York

edX’s How to Learn Online course reached over 85,000 enrollments. This 4 to 6-hour course, taught by edX’s learning design team, includes a curation of effective science-backed techniques.

Related to digital learning, edX offers five more courses under a Professional Certificate program, Course Creator Plus.

Coursera’s Learning to Teach Online attracted a similar number of users. This 17-hour course is based upon award-winning educational resources developed by Dr. Simon McIntyre and Dr. Negrin Mirriahi, from UNSW Sidney.

Both the Coursera and edX organizations have been releasing materials lately, with tips and inspirational resources about online learning for the COVID times.

Regarding learning strategies, edX suggests making sure educators develop new knowledge and skills in a way that can be retained, applied repeatedly, and adapted to new contexts.

The main advice is to make learning stick by taking advantage of established learning principles of practice, application, and reflection.

“A well-designed learning experience will provide you with opportunities to practice, apply, and reflect, but you can reinforce your learning outside of a class by connecting it to your everyday life and work,” explained Nina Huntemann, Senior Director of Academics and Research at edX, and one of the instructors of the “How to Learn Online” course. [In the picture above].

Nina Huntemann provided three top tips to getting the most from online learning and achieving those learning goals.

  1. Set aside time for learning. Plan and dedicate time to learn as you would to exercise or see friends or spend time with loved ones.
  2. Virtually meet and interact with your learning peers. You are not alone.
  3. Make your learning stick with the practice, application, and reflection.

Coursera said that live synchronous sessions are optimal for creating a space for collaborative problem solving, peer-to-peer interaction and personalized step-by-step guidance.

Linlin Xia and Alexandra Urban, from the Teaching & Learning Team at Coursera, described in seven points the best practices regarding live sessions:

 

1. Enhance course community

– Start with ice-breaker questions (e.g. what’s your favorite dessert) or virtual polls to get all students participating from the very beginning.

– Invite alumni or previous students from the course to share their learning tips.

– Encourage real-time community by asking students to submit messages, raise a hand, or use other tools within the virtual classroom.

 

2. Dive into key concepts

– Share your screen or use a virtual whiteboard functionality when the problem involves calculations, concept mapping, or images.

– Show step-by-step problem solving to guide students in your thought process.

– Make sure to pause and ask students questions throughout the session to ensure understanding.

 

3. Preview or debrief an assessment

– Collect questions from students about the specific project before the session.

– Walkthrough the purpose and benefits of completing this assignment.

– If it’s an open-ended project, allow students to share ideas with instructors or their peers and collect feedback.

– Address common pitfalls, as well as how mistakes can be avoided.

 

4. Conduct a live demonstration

– Make sure the code, software, or interface is large and clear enough for students to read.

– Zoom in on important elements to focus students’ attention.

– Talk through the process for conducting this type of simulation or problem solving, so students can recreate needed steps later on their own.

 

5. Initiate a team project

– Encourage peer-to-peer learning through specific prompts and clear deliverables desired.

– Use virtual breakout rooms with separate video conference links for each student-group to discuss.

 

6. Highlight a guest speaker

– Send a summary of the guest’s background and expertise before the session, so students can prepare.

– Collect questions from students ahead of time to add structure to the meeting.

– Add interactive and reflective elements to help students apply what they’re hearing and encourage the guest to brainstorm alongside the students. when possible

 

7. Create virtual office hours

– Let each student or team sign up for 10 to 15-minute slots of time at least one week ahead.

– Ask students to submit their questions before the event so you can use the time most efficiently and center on the most frequently asked questions.

– Send out beforehand which topics will be covered to pique students’ interest to attend.

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