Covid-19 fear pushes classes online

Covid-19 fear pushes classes online

Universities in Thailand have begun to move their classes online to help limit the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) in the country.

The move is in line with an instruction by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation, which recommends all universities provide appropriate methods of instruction that can help limit risks associated with the disease.

Chulalongkorn University (CU), for instance, has suggested its faculty members shorten teaching periods and supplement classroom instructions with online lectures and assignments.

The university has also asked its teaching staff to prepare digital learning materials — such as slideshows and lecture recordings — for students to access online through platforms such as Echo360, MyCourseVille and Microsoft Team.

Lecturers at CU have also been asked to adapt their syllabus into an assignment-based study programme which requires no physical attendance.

“For the 2019 academic year's final examinations, instructors should consider various forms of assignments which could also be effective for evaluating students' progress, such as in-depth reports or take-home exams," CU rector Bundit Euaarporn said.

Mr Bundit said in the case of qualifying exams, dissertation proposals and theses defence for graduate students, an online exam may be conducted, supplemented by a video conference.

“The university has set up a system to assist and support all instruction programmes mentioned above. Meanwhile, the university will closely monitor and assess the situation regarding the spread of Covid-19,” he said.

Thammasat, Mahidol, Suan Sunandha Rajabhat and Walailak universities have all announced similar measures.

Dhurakij Pundit University’s College of Innovative Business and Accountancy has also cancelled examinations for its Chinese students and modified its syllabus as an assignment-based programme that requires no class attendance.

King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, meanwhile, has also cancelled mid-term exams scheduled from March 2 to 10.

The university is also considering switching to online teaching.

Many Thai universities have already barred their students and staff from travelling to countries heavily impacted by Covid-19. Students and university staff who have visited countries with confirmed coronavirus cases have been asked to stay away from campuses for at least 14 days.

Meanwhile, in the US, several colleges and universities have cancelled in-person classes and switched to teaching online, as the battle against the virus outbreak there intensifies.

The cancellations are mainly in states hardest hit by Covid-19, including, California, New York and Washington.

On Tuesday, Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, asked its students not to return to campus after its spring break and said it would move to virtual teaching via the internet by March 23.

Columbia University, Princeton University, Stanford University, the Ohio State University, the University of Southern California and the University of Washington have all announced similar measures.

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