UF announces plans to keep classes going even with swine flu outbreak

The email was sent to deans today, explaining UF’s developing plans for keeping classes going even if the university is hit with an outbreak of the swine flu. The dean of our college forwarded the e-mail to us. He had told of us of the coming of the e-mail yesterday in our faculty meeting when one of the topics of discussion was UF’s policies regarding continuing the education process even if the campus is hit with the swine flu.

The e-mail listed steps and said more information is promised on a UF flu Web site that will be launched tomorrow.

Here are highlights of the plans:

Instructors are to use eLearning (UF’s course management system) or another such system for providing course materials for students. These may be students who have the flu or students who do not want to attend class for fear of getting the flu.

Yesterday in the faculty meeting, we discussed what faculty would be expected to provide. The semester is underway, and everyone has already planned for assignments and teaching that would be done as usual. So what changes and additions must be made? Do we have the technology skills — and does UF have the technology infrastructure — to prepare this massive online learning effort?

Large auditoriums will be wired with Mediasite lecture recording. Setting up the auditoriums is to be completed by Oct. 1. Faculty and students will receive directions on how to use that system. One of the two auditoriums I teach in will have a Mediasite setup.

Other tools and assistance will be available if we have a “health alert,” as it was termed in the e-mail. No further information on what that means, but more information will be available on the soon-to-be-available flu Web site.

We’re still wondering how all this course content development and uploading and auditorium instruction will go on if the teachers are the ones who are sick or not in class for fear of becoming sick.

We’re also wondering how we’ll handle the instructional and learning issues involved in courses that are taught in hands-on lab settings or smaller classes that are based on group projects and presentations and class discussion. Wonder if those issues will be addressed on the UF flu Web site.

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