Academia needs a reality check: Life is not back to normal — from sciencemag.org by June Gruber, Jay J. Van Bavel , William A. Cunningham, Leah H. Somerville, Neil A. Lewis, Jr.; with special thanks to Dr. Kate Byerwalter for this resource

Excerpts:

The problems don’t end there. Many academics are also grappling with ongoing racial injustices and associated protests, wildfires, and hurricanes. We continue to see widespread effects on mental health, with roughly one-third of Americans reporting symptoms of clinical depression or anxiety. June and her colleague recently described the escalating mental health crisis as the next biggest coronavirus challenge.

We have struggled with our own mental and physical well-being—as well as challenges associated with canceled vacations, lack of child care, the illnesses and death of people close to us, and the mental weight of difficult conversations about racial injustices. We’ve also been worrying about our trainees and the undergraduate students in our classes. The academic and non-academic job markets have cratered, and some of our colleagues and students have lost internships and job offers as organizations have been forced to cut expenses.

Expecting the same output as in previous years, even though many people have less time and more stress than ever, is not a sustainable or humane solution. The world is not normal—so the way we do science cannot be normal either.

 

Livestreamed Chemistry Labs Keep Learning Real — Mistakes, Spills and All — from campustechnology.com by Dian Schaffhauser

Excerpt:

To keep students engaged, the synchronous sessions include small-group breakout sessions and on-the-spot activities like having students name compounds; balance chemical equations; predict the outcomes of experiments; and calculate masses, amounts and concentrations for the chemicals used.

 
 

Google achieves first quantum simulation of a chemical reaction — from interestingengineering.com by Loukia Papadopoulos

Excerpt:

Now, researchers at Google have taken a step forward in quantum computing practicality by using one such computer to simulate a chemical reaction, albeit a simple one, reported New Scientist. The company used its Sycamore computer to achieve this lofty task.

Also see:

This Taiwanese Lecturer Draws Stunning Anatomical Drawings on the Chalkboard — from interestingengineering.com by Utku Kucukduner
His paintings are temporary, just like the mortal flesh we bear.

This Taiwanese Lecturer Draws Stunning Anatomical Drawings on the Chalkboard

 

Information re: virtual labs from the Online Learning Consortium


 7 Things You Should Know About Virtual Labs — from library.educause.edu

Excerpt:

Virtual labs are interactive, digital simulations of activities that typically take place in physical laboratory settings. Virtual labs simulate the tools, equipment, tests, and procedures used in chemistry, biochemistry, physics, biology, and other disciplines. Virtual labs allow students to participate in lab-based learning exercises without the costs and limitations of a physical lab. Virtual labs can be an important element in institutional efforts to expand access to lab-based courses to more and different groups of students, as well as efforts to establish contingency plans for natural disasters or other interruptions of campus activities.

 


Addendum on 8/27/20:

 

 

Colleges cut academic programs in the face of budget shortfalls due to Covid-19 — from cnbc.com by Jessica Dickler

Key points:

  • As colleges face extreme budget shortfalls, some institutions are cutting academic programs that were once central to a liberal arts education.
  • The University of Alaska system announced it will cut 39 academic departments in all, including sociology, creative writing, chemistry and environmental science.

 

Even before the global pandemic caused craters in the economy, some institutions were facing financial hardship after years of declines in state funding for higher education. A number of private schools had already made wrenching budget cuts, from curriculum changes to complete overhauls of their liberal arts programs.

 

From DSC:
A screenshot from the video (below) shows a new type of liberal arts program at Hiram College.

It could very well be that online-based learning turns out to save the liberal arts!!!!! How ironic is that!?!!

That is, many college presidents, provost, and faculty members — especially from smaller liberal arts types of schools — have disdained online-based learning for decades now. It was always viewed as “less than” in their minds…they didn’t want to go that route, as doing so would dilute their precious (and often overpriced) brands. (To be clear, this is not my view…but it was, and still is in many cases, their view.)

Anyway, it looks like more of these same folks will be losing their jobs in the next few years (if they haven’t already). At that point, we may see some of these same folks encounter a sudden paradigm shift. (A shift many of their colleagues have already gone through in prior years.) These same folks may come to appreciate that people will be willing to pay them for their knowledge — but only willing to do so at a much more affordable price…which will likely mean online.

Fewer people — especially when 47 million people in the U.S. alone have filed for unemployment over the last 14 weeks — can afford the cost of getting a degree. They are looking for inexpensive, convenient, efficient, effective means of reinventing themselves.

 

Huh…another potential irony here…it appears that colleges and universities are coming to know what many of us have known and experienced for years…and that is, the struggle to:

  • Reinvent oneself
  • Stay relevant
  • Survive
 
 
 

AI analyzed 3.3 million scientific abstracts and discovered possible new materials — from technologyreview.com

Excerpt:

A group of researchers have now used this technique to munch through 3.3 million scientific abstracts published between 1922 and 2018 in journals that would likely contain materials science research. The resulting word relationships captured fundamental knowledge within the field, including the structure of the periodic table and the way chemicals’ structures relate to their properties.

 

Knowing How to Study Can Mean the Difference Between Success and Failure for First-Generation Students. Here’s How Instructors Can Help. — from chronicle.com by Beth McMurtrie

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

Some of the mistakes first-gen students make are common to undergraduates: They focus on re-reading and memorizing to absorb what they’re learning, rather than summarizing material in their own words, or quizzing themselves, which are more effective techniques. But many also carry the burden of imposter syndrome – feeling like they don’t belong in college – or simply don’t know how college works. That, says Horowitz, discourages them from seeking out their professors during office hours or heading to the tutoring center for help. As a result they may spin their wheels even more furiously as they fall behind.

Horowitz, who now works at Bard High School Early College Newark as a faculty member in chemistry, reached out to me after I wrote about the importance of helping undergraduates develop the metacognitive skills necessary to become effective learners. It turns out, she’s written a book about some of those strategies, tailored to the needs of first-generation students.

Horowitz designed the book to appeal to a mass audience of STEM faculty. “The most effective person to tell students how to study for a particular course is the instructor,” she says. “They can easily put little pointers in their classroom about how students should be studying. I believe that could be revolutionary for first-generation college students.”

Horowitz suggests putting study tips into the syllabus and then reviewing them in class. 

Explain how to use problem sets effectively.

In reading-oriented classes, she recommends that, after reading each chapter, students write a single paragraph that synthesizes and summarizes the material. And on tests she often lists the amount of time students should spend on each problem.

Reach out, she says. It will pay off for both of you.

“For most of them it’s a big sense of relief that they’re having a conversation with you,” she says. “Most have been suffering in silence for a long time.”

 
 

Research Posters Are a Staple of Academic Conferences. Could a New Design Speed Discovery? — from edsurge.com by Jeff Young

Excerpts:

Scholars around the world share their latest research findings with a decidedly low-tech ritual: printing a 48-inch by 36-inch poster densely packed with charts, graphs and blocks of text describing their research hypothesis, methods and findings. Then they stand with the poster in an exhibit hall for an hour, surrounded by rows of other researchers presenting similar posters, while hundreds of colleagues from around the world walk by trying to skim the displays.

Not only does the exercise deflate the morale of the scholars sharing posters, the ritual is incredibly inefficient at communicating science, Morrison argues.

Morrison says he has a solution: A better design for those posters, plus a dash of tech.

 

 

To make up for all the nuance and detail lost in this approach, the template includes a QR code that viewers can scan to get to the full research paper.

 

From DSC:
Wouldn’t this be great if more journal articles would do the same thing?  That is, give us the key findings, conclusions (with some backbone to them), and recommendations right away! Abstracts don’t go far enough, and often scholars/specialists are talking amongst themselves…not to the world. They could have a far greater reach/impact with this kind of approach.

(The QR code doesn’t make as much sense if one is already reading the full journal article…but the other items make a great deal of sense!)

 

 

Survey: Students Choosing Online Programs Closer to Home — from campustechnology.com by Dian Schaffhauser

 

Mentioned in that article:

 

Also see:

“It’s encouraging to see that a majority of students who are studying fully online are reporting great value and satisfaction with their online programs which are largely tied to ambitious career goals,” said Todd Zipper, president and CEO of Learning House, in a prepared statement. “With an increasing population of savvier consumers with high expectations, institutions need to do better at offering more quality, diverse programs that are sensitive to cost in order to keep up with the growing demands of online college students.”

 

From DSC:
If, in the year 2019, most students say online learning is as good or better than face-to-face, what will they say come 2025?  2035? 

Many people will still prefer to have F2F-based learning experiences no matter what year it is. That said, as the innovation continues to occur mainly in the digital/online/virtual realms, F2F will likely find it harder and harder to compete. My advice to current faculty members? Get experience teaching online — and do so as soon as you possibly can.

 

 

From DSC:
First of all, an article:

The four definitive use cases for AR and VR in retail — from forbes.com by Nikki Baird

AR in retail

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

AR is the go-to engagement method of choice when it comes to product and category exploration. A label on a product on a shelf can only do so much to convey product and brand information, vs. AR, which can easily tap into a wealth of digital information online and bring it to life as an overlay on a product or on the label itself.

 

From DSC:
Applying this concept to the academic world…what might this mean for a student in a chemistry class who has a mobile device and/or a pair of smart goggles on and is working with an Erlenmeyer flask? A burette? A Bunsen burner?

Along these lines...what if all of those confused students — like *I* was struggling through chem lab — could see how an experiment was *supposed to be done!?*

That is, if there’s only 30 minutes of lab time left, the professor or TA could “flip a switch” to turn on the AR cloud within the laboratory space to allow those struggling students to see how to do their experiment.

I can’t tell you how many times I was just trying to get through the lab — not knowing what I was doing, and getting zero help from any professor or TA. I hardly learned a thing that stuck with me…except the names of a few devices and the abbreviations of a few chemicals. For the most part, it was a waste of money. How many students experience this as well and feel like I did?

Will the terms “blended learning” and/or “hybrid learning” take on whole new dimensions with the onset of AR, MR, and VR-related learning experiences?

#IntelligentTutoring #IntelligentSystems #LearningExperiences
#AR #VR #MR #XR #ARCloud #AssistiveTechnologies
#Chemistry #BlendedLearning #HybridLearning #DigitalLearning

 

Also see:

 

“It is conceivable that we’re going to be moving into a world without screens, a world where [glasses are] your screen. You don’t need any more form factor than [that].”

(AT&T CEO)

 

 

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