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MORICI: COVID-19 will force universities to reinvent themselves

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07.07.2020

Faculty at my university recently received a call for proposals to develop innovative online courses —especially large enrollment, introductory courses — for the fall semester. Similar initiatives across the country will prove as disruptive to my colleagues as automation for assembly line workers.

Lecture classes with hundreds of students are essential to the business model of residential universities. Those pull down average course delivery costs and subsidize smaller seminars, supervised field work and the personal instruction necessary to deliver high quality programs from anthropology to zoology.

Without a COVID-19 vaccine and with social distancing, large lectures simply aren’t feasible but tripling the number of sections significantly diminishes their financial efficacy. And I doubt social distancing can really be adequately accomplished with 18 to 21 year old students whose inherent nature is to discount risks.

A quality learning experience can’t be delivered simply by putting ordinary lectures online. In economics, concepts like price elasticity of demand and the social costs of product differentiation require some direct contact with faculty.

Blended learning — featuring professional quality videos, custom integrated reading materials and exercises........

© Toronto Sun


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