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Friday 5: Things To Ponder This Week In Higher Ed 4/10/20

Nothing is impossible. The word itself says "I'm possible!

Audrey Hepburn

We’re trying something new with Friday 5 Live!  We kicked off our new live event today with a discussion about working from home with Dr. Ghazala Hashmi. If you missed it, you can still register for this event and receive the recording. Please join us on April 24 for our next Friday 5 Live. More information coming soon.


Updates on COVID-19 and Higher Education

COVID-19 continues to shape the semester as institutions navigate how to offer commencement virtually, consider plans for a fall semester that might start online, and develop creative approaches to the traditional spring admitted student programs.  WCET has provided additional updates this week on relevant federal policy changes.  Education Dive is continuing to update its resources on COVID-19’s impact on our field. The Chronicle continues its extensive reporting this week as well as Inside Higher Ed who offers up-to-date reporting.


Institutions Developing Refund Plans

Institutions are scrambling to address demands for refunds from students forced off campus by COVID related closures, reports Inside Higher Ed this week.  Many institutions began to provide partial refund plans in the weeks after closing. Students at the University of Minnesota petitioned their Board of Regents for refunds while students in Arizona have filed a class action lawsuit demanding partial repayment of room and board and student fees. Universities are reporting losses in the millions of dollars on student refunds: Clemson estimates it will refund $15 million, and the University of Maine reports it has paid out $12.8 million to students in room and board refunds.


Addressing Online Learning for Students & Institutions With Limited Resources

The Chronicle of Higher Education examines how institutions and students with limited resources are making the abrupt transition to online learning.  “While few colleges have the resources to effectively handle the large-scale shift to remote learning forced by COVID-19, rural, small, and cash-strapped institutions are getting by on a shoestring.” The Chronicle reports on institutions which have one or two instructional designers with  campus populations of over 9,000 students and other institutions that are mailing students coursework who do not have computers or access to wifi.


Institutions Examining Grading Policies in Light of COVID-19 Closures

The Hechinger Report examines shifts in institutions’ grading policies following the move to online learning.    Schools are moving cautiously as considerations must be taken for transfer credit (courses with grades of “pass” often do not transfer) and competitive professional or graduate programs which look for letter grades in completed courses.  Many institutions and entire systems (the Virginia Community College, for example) are setting grades to pass/fail for the spring semester with the option for students to receive a letter grade. Columbia, Stanford, Dartmouth and MIT, have opted to only award grades of pass or fail.  With 4 out of 10 students transferring each year, and often unable to transfer 40% of their completed coursework, the students with the most to lose in the shift to pass/fail grades will be transfer students.


Supporting Online Learners

Inside Higher Ed this week examines what student affairs and academic support look like “ when most students are no longer on campuses.” The article recommends seven actions institutions might consider in the coming weeks to support student learners including: using LMS data as an early alert, implementing a coaching program, creating opportunities for staff-initiated student conversations, asking questions like what technologies “exist that help student affairs and academic support staff to gather students together to talk about how they are doing.” Additional recommendations include focusing efforts on those students most at risk and connecting with students outside of traditional business hours.

Author: Meg Foster
April 10, 2020
Comments 1
  • Stephanie E Long
    Stephanie E Long

    I am so grateful for this series!

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