Due to the coronavirus Education in College and other levels will never be the same. Protection against the coronavirus and future pandemic viruses will require Social Distancing and the wearing of face masks to prevent spreading of a virus from one student to another or to the teacher. I have a solution for Elementary, Secondary and College schools to still have classrooms with live students instead of complete online courses. The average Secondary school grades 7-12 usually has 32 student except in some States it may rise to 45 in a classroom to one teacher. To allow for social distancing in the future the number of students in a classroom is going to have to drop from 32 to half that amount or 16 students.
This change would impact the Teacher contracts and agreements with the teacher Unions. Instead of having 8 classes a day of which teachers teach five, the new norm will be twice that number or 16 short classes a day. Short classes would be twenty minutes long instead of the usual 50 minutes. Teachers will have to teach ten short classes a day. Department chairpersons who use to be excused for teaching several classes a day would have to return to a full teaching regiment of 16 classes a day.
Online in school classes can be made available to help make the new curriculum easier to apply. Music auditoriums are the largest room in most schools next to the gyms. In auditoriums student could sit every other seat for social distancing with their own laptop or iPad and log on to the online course they were assigned for that period.
Lunch or cafeteria would have to change to allow social distancing . Every other seating might not work, so chairs might have to be placed in hallways near the cafeteria. Schools in warm climates could have an expanded outdoor picnic area with plenty of extra permanent seating installed.
Online course can supplement in class courses with support and guidance after school at home.
In College money walks and money talks. College Presidents will be tempted to go the all class online route to save massive amounts of money, while at the same time charging tuition to students who log on from home. Dormitories could become problem as the students at UCSD have complained, “why should they pay for a dorm or apartment when they can log on from home? At the NY College of Osteopathic medicine where I worked as. Director of Faculty Development and Assessment they had streaming for all lectures. The lucky thing is that only had two lectures going on at the same time. If a University were to apply instant streaming of all lectures and classrooms the cost would be prohibited due to the need for massive computer server storage space. The down side of streaming other than cost is that the students did not come to the lectures and instead remained at home with a cup of coffee and a donut. The administration at the NY College of Osteopathic medicine could not figure out how to get the students to attend the lectures. The solution was simple. Stop streaming the lectures and handing out of lecture notes in advance. Online course can be bought from third party companies or developed over time with the existing faculty. The problem there is intellectual property rights. Does the Professor had full rights to the classes and curriculum they write and teach or does the University or College have the full property rights to the recorded video copies of the lectures? That depends on the employment contract the Professors sign when they are hired. If they agree to give the University or College full legal rights to replay a Professor’s lectures for eternity than the Professor has no rights. Online courses save Colleges and Universities millions of dollars by not having to provide classroom space or pay a live professor to teach the course.
Some Universities provide a Professor at the beginning of the course and at the end for the final exam and the rest of the course is online. Blackboard is an online administrative system that I was certified and trained in that makes online teaching easy with computer testing, online grading reporting, lock boxes to record when an assignment is handed in onetime and the full curriculum can be posted in advance. Some textbook companies will provide the full text of their books to be uploaded to Blackboard for students to read and not have to pay for an expensive textbook.
Obviously the human interaction between student and teacher is going to suffer. There might be a decline in Teachers due to the new non personal online teaching approach? One big glitch is what happens when the servers go down? No server, no internet, no classrooms broadcast. Hacking will be a major problem and colleges, schools and universities will have to learn how to protect their online systems.
E-mailing a professor is always going to be risky if the student can upload a virus or deliver a link or app that tracks a Professors keyboard. Protected institution e-mails are the only way to prevent this.
Will the online system come the fall of 2020 be good? Probably not because schools have not had the time to train their teachers how to teach online. Early Kindergarten and first grade students will need software that is good for their age level. Who is to pay for these iPads or laptops, the district or college or the student. Many students come from poor families that cannot afford an iPad. They will need financial assistance to secure an iPad and the training how to use one on cds or dvds.
The shorter class time is actually a plus for student with a short attention span. It makes teaching more concentrated. Teachers tend to blab a lot and this will teach them to be concise. Online projects must be completed in 20 minutes.
Physical Education is more essential than ever as an outlet from being cooped up all day and for character development. Online instruction is not a good venue for character development. Good sportsmanship carries over into adult life and provides guidelines for interaction with others in sports. Learning to lose as well as win and profit from losses to eventually win says a lot about Physical Education. We live in an age of overeating students who are so obese they cannot do many things like run or hike. They run out of breath when walking or riding a bike. They are made fun of by their peers. Physical Education will teach students what they cannot learn on a computer. Live body practice is a great way to teach a person’s muscles how to coordinate a skill or sport. Just watching on a computer is not the same. Muscles have memory and the more you repeat a skill, the better you become using that skill.
This is only the beginning of the discussion. Next time the mathematics of setting up a school master schedule with 20 minute classes and 16 sections a day.
Dr. Pelham Mead, June 2020