32 Responses to UO consultants draft fancy plans for classroom distancing

  1. dtl says:

    Are they going to disinfect the air and all surfaces between classes? Will students be required to wear masks? Also this: https://www.erinbromage.com/post/the-risks-know-them-avoid-them

  2. Essential Worker says:

    To bad they don’t have the brains to figure out that making the call to be online now will save a lot of Phil$. California is smart enough to not waste resources to learn no one wants to sit in a Covid Pit.

  3. AnotherClassified says:

    “The entire 23-school California State University system, which includes five Bay Area universities, will keep campuses closed to students and faculty through the fall semester, CSU Chancellor Timothy White announced Tuesday.”

  4. A Bridge Too Far says:

    Is this decision to open campus magical thinking? Or is it worse than that — a calculated decision to prioritize status and football over saving human lives?

    “One of Trump’s top coronavirus task force advisers, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told a Senate committee it would be a “bridge too far” for colleges to expect a vaccine or widely available treatment to be ready by the time students return to campuses.”


    If students were to come back to campus with no vaccine and no treatment, the death of many students and community members would be entirely expected. If some students choose to return, will some employees then be ordered to come back to campus to serve their needs?

    What do you say when a leader increases the probability of death?

  5. heraclitus says:

    I have heard the rationale that it will be easier to switch from in-person to online at the last minute, if need be, rather than the other way. I think that’s woefully wrong, above all because even in-person classes will need to leverage online resources like never before next term. We should be using this time to prepare for genuine online instruction (not ‘remote’), knowing that those materials will likely be used even if we do end up on campus. A couple of suggestions:

    1) depts should reorganize classes offered and teaching assignments so as to build on work done this term. If a lecturer put time into preparing decent online materials this term, why ask them to do it for a different class next term, unless curriculum needs absolutely rule out offering the class in consecutive terms. Better to give them support (IT help, $$) for improving on that work (e.g. adding captions, re-editing videos, adding interactivity via Panopto…). GE labor can be leveraged here too.

    2) Coach both students and teachers on management of student work, the issue that seems to have proved most challenging to students this term. Teachers need to know what it takes to help students with this (make sure all assignments show up on the Canvas calendar, write at least somewhat transparent assignments, include detailed workload/time estimates each week); students need to accept that this has always been their responsibility (arguably one of the biggest things people can hope to learn at college), and that the move online has only highlighted something they traditionally don’t pay much attention to.

    3) Develop some effective and detailed strategies for instructor presence and student involvement (sense of class community etc). This is the biggest challenge of online ed. and teachers need help with it. Simply requiring some kind of interaction (as per summer remote courses) isn’t much help, and will in most cases turn out to be a tedious annoyance for teacher and student (lots of grey Zoom boxes). The main advantage students see in learning online is flexibility in scheduling: we should not take that away from them because we can’t figure out a better way to create community and sense of belonging.

    • Fishwrapper says:

      It is almost as if campus leaders do no wish to take this time to improve the “remote teaching” experience, and using this time to train faculty in the toolset. This is not a UO-centric problem, either. More time – and re$ource$ – is spent on planning for in-person spacing in rooms for the fall. If the kind of effort that was going into this return-to-campus planning was spent on improving the quality of “remote teaching,” we would all be better off. We can always transition to quality in-person teaching, even with spacing requirements – we have not yet transitioned the educational product to remote delivery. Just ’cause it’s happening now doesn’t mean it is what it needs to be.

    • Cratylus says:

      A couple of comments and replies.

      1. Don’t departments already seek an optimum balance between making the class schedule work for faculty and for students? Most of us are fighting for this balance all the time. For faculty, it supports the need for critical research time, and for students it is often a matter of timely graduation or not (i.e. major $$). I’ve never known of a case in which department administrators were not all over this.

      2. Who should do this “coaching?” I’m busy enough–way too busy–to attend “coaching” sessions by the folks who would be my “coach.” I’m way too busy and down the road with my courses (have taught for over 15 years) to want any more “coaching” by people who are not in my field but have some abstract notion of so-called “best practices.”

      2. Who is supposed to develop these strategies for everyone else? They will be different for different situations. Studio courses are not laboratories are not lecture courses. Socratic method, Heraclitus, is not a lecture. And it is not for everyone. There are many ways to work with students in groups. Some courses and teachers are spectacular with synchronous meetings in which everyone participates. Others are perhaps better organized to facilitate students’ schedules, as you suggest.

      2. I had enough crazy emails launched at me earlier this term to look forward to any more. It was as if every education-oriented administrator on campus was fighting to take over the Great Leader’s role. It’s important to preserve our commitment to the freedom to teach. I actually believe that everything depends on it.

      • Fishwrapper says:

        Re: 2. Hey – since you “have taught for over 15 years” why don’t you be the coach? Because teaching a remote class is exactly the same as what you’ve taught for the last fifteen years – right? – and your negative response to the need for coaching indicates you must know it all. These are different times, requiring different methods, and anyone who walks into a remote teaching environment thinking their fifteen years at a lectern in a room with bodies has fully prepared them to deliver on the value students are paying for should not be teaching remotely. This term has too often already proved as much.

      • heraclitus says:

        Cratylus, if you prefer to go it alone when your Fall teaching turns out to be all-remote again, or when you find that each of your students will spend only 50 minutes per week in class with you, that is your prerogative. Faculty’s control of and responsibility for their own teaching is a fundamental principle of the US university system, and I am not arguing for a change to that. Many of your colleagues however (myself included), might prefer to see money and other resources going towards helping them to prepare for this scenario, rather than being micturated away on half-baked consultant studies like this one.

  6. taking bets? says:

    How long until Schill backtracks and announces we’ll be remote in the fall? If you set the line at a month from now, I’m taking the under. The more difficult line to set when he’ll announce remote learning for winter and spring. I’d guess around mid-October.

  7. ScienceDuck says:

    The high-priced consultants don’t even pack the circles optimally. Their “square packing” with rows and columns occupies pi/4 of the available space, while shifting the rows to nestle better could use pi * sqrt(3)/6 of the space (~91% instead of 80%) while keeping the same distancing minimums. There…I’ve just increased tuition dollars per square foot by more than 10% (or possible coronavirus cases) without charging any fancy consultant fees.

    • uomatters says:

      Like. This seems like a good problem for a quarantined 3rd grader: Build an appropriately scaled cardboard model of a Lillis classroom, fill it with ping-pong balls, post a cell-phone photo of the packing, and send Andre Le Duc an invoice for $100K.

      • Perplexed Otter says:

        Too simple for a third grader. I learned to properly space cookies on a cookie sheet for maximum yield when I was 5.

        But seriously, we’ve just agreed to no raises, hiring freezes, layoffs etc and this is what JH is spending serious $$ on? SMH

        • Dog says:

          let’s not forget that these particular cookies, no matter what pi configuration they are in, are not allowed to breathe while being lectured too …

    • math badger says:

      hmm, seems like if they were shifted and nestled together as suggested then students couldn’t exit the rows without getting within 6ft of each other. Rows would need to be filled and emptied one student at a time by alternating rows based on your suggestion

  8. Anas clypeata says:

    The bubble packing model is ridiculous for existing classrooms with seats in them. I hope nobody got paid to draw them. They must have drawings that show the actual chairs that are installed in the classrooms. Unless you’re going to rip out all of the furniture, just use the existing seat maps, assign bodies to seats so that everyone is at least six feet apart from anyone else, then count the bodies.

    • ScienceDuck says:

      I bet the consultants have been told to not use the phrase “count the bodies” in their report, though.

  9. Cratylus says:

    I yield before (or better behind) anyone who uses “micturated” to such perfect effect. And I am not about to step into the same micturation twice, or even once.

    But we may well agree. It’s not a matter of going it alone. I’m absorbing and evaluating all I can get from the campus and from my colleagues here and elsewhere. The issue for me is the administrative codification of what should be the pedagogical choices that faculty make in their particular fields and in their particular situations.

    • heraclitus says:

      You should have seen the version of my reply that included a play on words involving Perplexed Otter’s cookies and ‘half-baked’. Edited out after contemplating the image thus conjured. Yes, I suspect we do agree, and you are right to be wary of admin-mandated ‘best practices’, and I understand how the term ‘coaching’ can raise red flags (correctness of names matters, as you well know; or as I used to say back in the day, the name is life, but its work is death). I want to acknowledge here, too, that there are already many people doing their very best to provide the kinds of support I advocated for in my original post (e.g. TEP), but those resources need to be radically scaled up, and there does need to be a reorientation of principles given that many of our teachers are and will be teaching online through need, not by choice.

  10. Perplexed Otter says:

    Recommended Reading: “Colleges Are Deluding Themselves:
    Institutions are letting their financial and reputational worries cloud their judgment about when they can safely reopen.”


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