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American Universities Move to Online Classes Due to Coronavirus

Six American universities have cancelled in-person classes and are moving instruction online in response to the Coronavirus. Stanford University, Northeastern University’s Seattle Campus, Brandman University, Seattle University, Seattle Pacific University, and the University of Washington all announced closures on March 6th and 7th.

Many other universities are preparing for the possibility of cancelling in person classes. Harvard University administrators asked its faculty to familiarize themselves with Zoom, an online video conferencing platform.

Online classes saw widespread adoption in China, Class Central reported, but American universities had not taken similar steps in response to the Coronavirus until recently.

In general, the transition to online instruction is unlikely to be smooth given the short timeframe instructors have to make the switch. Stanford University put together a website titled “Teach Anywhere” listing advice and resources for instructors. The website recommends using video conferencing tools like Zoom as an alternative to delivering in-person lectures. However, noting that “scheduling can be a problem, and only a few students will actively participate (just like in your classroom),” the website recommends that instructors use asynchronous communication tools, like discussion boards, when possible.

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