from Inside Higher Ed
After celebrating the Lunar New Year earlier this month, thousands of students at U.S. universities in China have resumed classes. But the campuses are eerily quiet, and classrooms remain empty. That’s because classes have moved online in the wake of the coronavirus.
The transition from face-to-face to fully online wasn’t one leaders at institutions such as Duke Kunshan University and New York University Shanghai had planned for. Preparing to teach a course online for the first time usually takes several months. Faculty at institutions in China have done it in less than three weeks — a remarkable feat.
“It’s been highly stressful, but at the same time, the clarity of the crisis has brought us together,” said Clay Shirky, vice provost for educational technologies at NYU in New York, who was part of the team that helped colleagues at NYU Shanghai launch their courses online.
Faced with the decision to either close the Shanghai campus and suspend teaching indefinitely or try and keep students on track, leaders at NYU chose the latter, said Shirky. “It took us a while to realize that we really needed to move the semester online,” he said. “Looking back, I wish we had made the call a little earlier.”
Hopeful that students would be able to return to campus after the holidays, NYU Shanghai planned to reopen on Feb. 3. When travel restrictions were introduced, the semester’s start date was pushed to Feb. 10. Then the Chinese Ministry of Education ordered universities across the nation not to reopen their doors, leaving faculty with a tight deadline to move classes online.