The swine flu could have more impact on the faculty’s use of technology at the University of Florida than years of university-wide and college initiatives.
Yesterday at the College Faculty Senate meeting, the dean explained the UF administration’s position regarding the potential for a swine flu outbreak and how we would deal with an outbreak.
The UF administration has raised the flu threat. Two weeks ago, UF projected that 25 percent of the student body could contract swine flu. The new statistic is 25 to 40 percent. That’s 40 percent of almost 50,000 students.
The dean said that the University of South Florida has announced that it will close the campus if the swine flu strikes but that UF has taken a different approach. We will continue to run classes but…
- All classes must be made available online — through eLearning or other platforms (such as a course Web site).
- Large auditoriums on campus will be wired so that the instructors will teach class and those classes will be available online for students — students who are sick and those who don’t want to come to class for fear of becoming sick. [As the dean made this point, I realized that was what was happening to the auditorium that I had just come from — technicians were installing yards of cable into the technology closet as I was coming into class.]
UF has been encouraging/urging faculty to develop more online courses, but that has been a slow and often contentious process.
Faculty typically don’t have the skills to create online content, and the learning curve can be steep for learning those technology skills.
Faculty also have been concerned (and rightly so) with some other issues:
If a faculty member creates an online course, who does that course belong to — the faculty member or UF? After the course is developed, can UF give the course to another faculty member, grad student or adjunct to teach?
Is teaching a course online the best approach for teaching the course?
But with the threat of the swine flu, those concerns may be sneezed right off the table.