US universities strive to keep learning alive with free learning resources

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Business Schools in the US are cutting down on full-time MBA programme offerings reflecting the general drop in applications.

By Aisyah Liliana 

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As schools and workplaces around the globe have shuttered due to the current pandemic, several US universities through the support of technology partnerships are releasing free online learning resources that are available for learners, educators, and the general public. Southern New Hampshire University, Arizona State University, Washington State University, and Yale University Press are some of the US universities working with partners to provide digital resources for not only students but also the general public to ensure that learning continues, despite the current pandemic.

SNHU is partnering to release free resources for educators, frontline workers, and employers

US universities are not only enabling learning to continue for students, but also for frontliners as well.

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is working with several partners, including Guild Education, Penn Foster, and K12 Inc. to release educational resources for all levels of learning, including k-12 schools and universities.

University President and CEO, Paul LeBlanc said that the university is proud to be working with dedicated partners, health care experts, and workforce leaders to share critical resources and information related to COVID-19.

LeBlanc said in these uncertain times, it is important for everyone to come together to do their parts as the world navigates through these changes.

The university, with its reputation as a non-profit leader in online education, compiled and released a full set of free resources for educators to use as they transition to online instruction.

These resources cover topics from building an online course, to feedback types and delivery, and how to accommodate diversity, equity, and inclusion in the online classroom.

SNHU is also partnering with K12 Inc. to develop modules that can help schoolteachers transfer learning online, on topics such as Basics of Teaching Online, Supporting Students and Their Families, Tools, and Technology, and Advanced Topics in Online Instruction.


In its effort to support frontline workers, SNHU is also partnering with Guild Education and Penn Foster to develop and roll out a set of free training for frontline workers.

Among the micro-credentials provided at no charge are Preventing Illness at Work, Preventing Illness at Home, Maintaining Mental Health, and Coordinating Best Practices with your Manager.

These micro-credentials will take about 15-20 minutes per topic to complete and will deliver a badge or certificate to show mastery to employers for skills learned.

President of Guild Education, Josh Scott said, “During this period of uncertainty, millions of frontline workers do not have the opportunity to work remotely and must remain at work in critical roles such as health care, retail, supply chain, and other sectors.”

Scott added that by sharing these educational resources widely cost-free, frontline workers will have the information and tools that they need to stay safe.


ASU and Crash Course form a new partnership to create YouTube content

Arizona State University (ASU) is set to share its academic content with over 10 million subscribers of its educational YouTube channel.

This initiative is launched through a partnership between EdPlus, the ASU unit that creates technology and partnerships to develop new ways of teaching and learning and Crash Course.
ASU, a producer of high-quality online learning will now make its expertise available to the public in through this new partnership.

Crash Course is part of the Complexly education company, which specialises in creating engaging tutorial videos meant for K–12 classrooms. Crash Course currently has more than 1,200 videos in 39 subjects on YouTube.

The partnership is designed in a way that content is developed by the same ASU faculty experts who create ASU online courses, and then the Crash Course team takes the content, develops a script and produces the videos.

This new channel will feature a series of entry-level course videos on four subjects, starting with English composition, college algebra, data literacy and chemistry. Each subject will have about 15 videos covering major points in each topic.

The content is designed to act as a learning supplement for high school or college learners. It is not meant to replace teaching and learning at a degree level and thus will not offer credit.

Crash Course videos are typically around 15 minutes long, include a combination of live-action, photographs, and animation and have a host who’s engaging and relatable to the viewers.

Chief design officer for EdPlus, Sean Hobson said that learning institutions cannot expect existing designs today to be enough for today’s world. He stressed that there is a need for learning institutions to be accessible and serve new learners and for that to happen, there is a need for new design and education delivery methods.

“Many universities are seeing YouTube as a repository for their traditional learning assets, taking lectures they deliver in a classroom, posting them on YouTube and expecting the world to consume them in that format,” Hobson added.

Senior producer at Complexly, Nick Jenkins said that the team understands that the subjects can be complex and difficult to learn at times.

Jenkins adds, “Making sure that we acknowledge that with our tone is very important. It’s about making sure no one feels shame for needing help to learn or study. In that comes opportunities for us to relate to our audience, as well as genuine humour — whether that be through a short animation or through our host expressing their own struggle.”

According to the content manager at Complexly, Ceri Riley said the content development team tries to capture the actual passion of live instructors in its learning content.

“There’s a lovely mission overlap between Complexly and ASU in that we both want to lower the barriers to entry of education for everyone who wants to learn,” Riley said.

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WSU creates online resources designed for 4-H youth

Washington State 4-H youth has taken social isolation in stride by swapping group activity for online experiences through its partnership with Washington State University Extension. The team, including faculty, staff, volunteer leaders, and youth are now sharing online projects, apps, and resources that build their potential.

4‑H is America’s largest youth development organisation, empowering nearly six million young people with leadership skills. State Program Leader for 4-H Youth Development, Nancy Deringer said that upon the closure of schools, the team decided to provide research-based resources.

She added that while 4-H is all about hands-on, experiential learning with caring adults, it can be done virtually. Deringer said that the team is aiming to provide educational resources for parents and caregivers.

The Ideas for Learning at Home list is available for free, research-based, hands-on activities kids K-12 can do at home with a parent or caring adult. Michelle Green, an Extension Coordinator for STEM 4-H in King County, created the original list of online links to resources.

Many of the resources and activities come from 4-H directly, such as Discover 4-H STEM Camps, 4-H Knitting, and 4-H and Military Partnerships. Other research-based activities are sourced from organisations like the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Nat Geo for Kids, and NASA STEM.

Deringer added that 4-H is about developing young leaders, and so the focus of the team is on projects that interest youth so that they stay engaged.


YUP partners with digital content providers to product online learning resources

Yale University Press (YUP) is providing free access to its e-books, including digital textbooks to college students nationwide who are currently transitioning to online classes.

To make this initiative a possibility, the university press, YUP is working with digital content providers EBSCO, ProQuest, UPSO (Oxford), and De Gruyter to make a wide selection of e-books available for free to students through their institutions’ libraries.

YUP’s materials join a wealth of digital content that Yale libraries and museums make available to students and scholars across the globe.

The university is also partnering with online textbook rental stores VitalSource and Chegg to provide students electronic versions of textbooks that they had purchased but cannot access due to the campus closures.

YUP Director John Donatich said that in this challenging period, students are struggling as they try to complete their courses remotely without access to library stacks or textbooks that were left behind on campus.

Donatich added that is the university’s mission to ease this transition as much as possible to enable teaching and learning to go fully online.


In addition to this, YUP also has extended the free trial period for libraries to subscribe to its digital art and architecture platform, the A&AePortal. This platform hosts the university’s publications in partnership with top academic publishers and museums, including the Yale Center for British Art (YCBA) and the Yale University Art Gallery (YUAG).

The platform allows users to search and digitally access scholarship and images concerning art and architectural history. These resources will also be used by course instructors to create course packs that their students can access online. The Yale University Library’s digital collections provide students and researchers access to troves of digital images and archives.

The YCBA, YUAG, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History have digitised major portions of their respective collections, which are searchable on each institution’s website.