Will the Coronavirus Forever Alter the College Experience?
This article is part of our latest Learning special report, which focuses on the challenges of online education during the coronavirus outbreak.
“学习专题报道”(Learning special report)聚焦新型冠状病毒暴发期间在线教育面临的挑战，下面是专题最新发表的一篇文章。
A professor at Loyola University New Orleans taught his first virtual class from his courtyard, wearing a bathrobe and sipping from a glass of wine. Faculty at Lafayette College, in Easton, Penn., trained in making document cameras at home using cardboard and rubber bands.
新奥尔良洛约拉大学(Loyola University New Orleans)的一位教授从自家院子里讲授了他的第一节网课，他穿着浴袍，时不时抿一口葡萄酒。宾州伊斯顿拉法耶特学院(Lafayette College)的教员们接受了如何用硬纸板和橡皮筋在家里制作实物投影机的训练。
Hamilton College, in Clinton, N.Y., set up drive-up Wi-Fi stations for faculty members whose connections weren’t reliable enough to let them upload material to the internet. And students in a musicology course at Virginia Tech were assigned to create TikTok videos.
位于纽约州克林顿市的汉密尔顿学院(Hamilton College)为那些网络不稳定、无法上传教学材料的教员们设立了让他们能从车里上网的有Wi-Fi的停车场。弗吉尼亚理工大学(Virginia Tech)给音乐学课程的学生布置的作业是制作TikTok视频。
The disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic has prompted cobbled-together responses ranging from the absurd to the ingenious at colleges and universities struggling to continue teaching even as their students have receded into diminutive images, in dire need of haircuts, on videoconference checkerboards.
But while all of this is widely being referred to as online higher education, that’s not really what most of it is, at least so far. As for predictions that it will trigger a permanent exodus from brick-and-mortar campuses to virtual classrooms, all indications are that it probably won’t.
“What we are talking about when we talk about online education is using digital technologies to transform the learning experience,” said Vijay Govindarajan, a professor at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. “That is not what is happening right now. What is happening now is we had eight days to put everything we do in class onto Zoom.”
“我们所说的在线教育，是指使用数字技术来改变学习经历，”达特茅斯大学塔克商学院(Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business)教授维贾伊·戈文达拉扬(Vijay Govindarajan)说。“眼下并非如此。现在的情况是，我们有八天的时间把我们在课堂上做的所有事情都放到Zoom上去。”
There will be some important lasting impacts, though, experts say: Faculty may incorporate online tools, to which many are being exposed for the first time, into their conventional classes. And students are experiencing a flexible type of learning they may not like as undergraduates, but could return to when it’s time to get a graduate degree.
These trends may not transform higher education, but they are likely to accelerate the integration of technology into it.
This semester “has the potential to raise expectations of using these online resources to complement what we were doing before, in an evolutionary way, not a revolutionary way,” said Eric Fredericksen, associate vice president for online learning at the University of Rochester. “That’s the more permanent impact.”
这个学期“有可能会提高一种期望，那就是我们将用这些在线资源来补充我们之前所做的工作，但这会是一种渐进的方式，而不是革命的方式，”罗切斯特大学(University of Rochester)负责在线学习的副校长埃里克·弗雷德里克森(Eric Fredericksen)说。“这是更持久的影响。”
Real online education lets students move at their own pace and includes such features as continual assessments so they can jump ahead as soon as they’ve mastered a skill, Dr. Fredericksen and others said.
Conceiving, planning, designing and developing a genuine online course or program can consume as much as a year of faculty training and collaboration with instructional designers, and often requires student orientation and support and a complex technological infrastructure.
“Not surprisingly, when we really do this, it does take more than seven or eight days,” Dr. Fredericksen said wryly.
If anything, what people are mistaking now for online education — long class meetings in videoconference rooms, professors in their bathrobes, do-it-yourself tools made of rubber bands and cardboard — appears to be making them less, not more, open to it.
“The pessimistic view is that [students] are going to hate it and never want to do this again, because all they’re doing is using Zoom to reproduce everything that’s wrong with traditional passive, teacher-centered modes of teaching,” said Bill Cope, a professor of education policy, organization and leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“悲观的看法是，（学生们）正在讨厌它，绝不想再上网课，因为他们正在做的所有事情只不过是把被动的、以教师为中心的传统教学模式中所有的错误用Zoom复制出来而已，”伊利诺伊大学香槟分校(University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)的教育政策、组织和领导力教授比尔·科佩(Bill Cope)说。
Undergraduates already seemed lukewarm toward virtual higher education; only about 20 percent took even one online course in the fall of 2018, the consulting firm Eduventures estimates.
If they didn’t like that, they definitely don’t like what they’re getting this semester.
More than 75 percent said they don’t think they’re receiving a quality learning experience, according to a survey of nearly 1,300 students by the online exam-prep provider OneClass. In a separate poll of 14,000 college and graduate students in early April by the website niche.com, which rates schools and colleges, 67 percent said they didn’t find online classes as effective as in-person ones.
Among college-bound high school seniors, fewer than a quarter said in December that they were open to taking even some of their college courses online, Eduventures reported; by the end of March, after some had experienced virtual instruction from their shutdown high schools, fewer than one in 10 polled by niche.com said they would consider online college classes.
Sentiments like these suggest there’s little likelihood that students will desert their real-world campuses for cyberspace en masse. In fact, if there’s a silver lining in this situation for residential colleges and universities, it’s that students no longer take for granted the everyday realities of campus life: low-tech face-to-face classes, cultural diversions, libraries, athletics, extracurricular activities, in-person office hours and social interaction with their classmates.
“The beauty of a residential education has never been more apparent to people,” said Michael Roth, the president of Wesleyan University.
“住宿教育的魅力从未像现在这样显而易见，”卫斯理大学(Wesleyan University)校长迈克尔·罗斯(Michael Roth)说。
But advocates for true online instruction say that students’ experience of taking courses on their own schedules over mobile platforms may come back to them later, when they’re ready to move on to graduate or professional educations.
Online higher education “is a thin diet for the typical 18-year-old,” said Richard Garrett, the chief research officer at Eduventures. “But today’s 18-year-olds are tomorrow’s 28-year-olds with families and jobs, who then realize that online can be useful.”
Already, more than half of American adults who expect to need more education or training after this pandemic say they would do it online, according to a survey of 1,000 people by the Strada Education Network, which advocates connections between education and work.
提倡在教育和工作之间建立联系的斯特拉达教育网络(Strada Education Network)对1000人进行的一项调查显示，预计在新冠病毒大流行后需要接受更多教育或培训的美国成年人中，已有超过一半的人表示愿意在网上学习。
It isn’t entirely students who will move this needle, observers say. It’s also faculty.
Even those who had long avoided going online have had to do it this semester, in some form or other. And they may have the most to learn from the experience, said Michael Moe, chief executive of GSV Asset Management, which focuses on education technology.
就连那些长期避免网上教学的人，这学期也不得不以这样或那样的形式进行网上教学。专注于教育技术的GSV资产管理公司(GSV Asset Management)首席执行官迈克尔·莫伊(Michael Moe)说，他们也许会从这次经历中学到最多的东西。
Along with their students, faculty were “thrown into the deep end of the pool for digital learning and asked to swim,” Mr. Moe said. “Some will sink, some will crawl to the edge of the pool and climb out and they’ll never go back in the pool ever again. But many will figure out what to do and how to kick and how to stay afloat.”
If there’s anyone who’s banking on this, it’s the ed-tech sector. More than 70 percent of such companies have been offering products and services to schools and colleges free or at steep discounts this semester, anticipating sales later, according to the consulting firm Productive.
Cengage, for example, is providing free subscriptions to its online textbooks, and says it has seen a 55 percent increase in the number of students who have signed up for one. Coursera is providing 550 colleges and universities with free access to its online courses.
“Administrators and educators are reframing their attitudes,” said John Rogers, education sector lead at the $5 billion Rise Fund, which is managed by the asset company TPG and invests in ed tech. “That really is the difference-maker. The pace of adoption of those tools will accelerate.”
People resist new ideas until external shocks force them to change, said Dr. Govindarajan, who cites as an example the way World War II propelled women into jobs that had traditionally been done by men. “We are at that kind of inflection point.”
Faculty, he said, will ask themselves, “ ‘What part of what we just did can be substituted with technology and what part can be complemented by technology to transform higher education?’ ”
Universities should consider this semester an experiment to see which classes were most effectively delivered online, he said — big introductory courses better taught through video-recorded lectures by faculty stars and with online textbooks, for example, which could be shared among institutions to lower the cost.
Students who want classes best provided face to face, such as those in the performing arts or that require lab work, would continue to take them that way.
“Let’s take advantage of this moment to start a larger conversation” about the whole design of higher education, Dr. Govindarajan said.
“We had better not lose this opportunity.”