06 May 2009

Social Distancing: Campus Response to a Flu Pandemic

Response to campus disruptions can be planned. But until it is tested, an institution has no idea if the plan is adequate. An exercise in 2007 by University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill illustrates the power of even a limited-scope test.

The School of Public Health simulated a campus closure for four graduate classes, limiting the experiment to just a couple of days. As on-ground classes, the sections had not used online technology up to that point and, in fact, most of the students enrolled had no experience at all in online education. The School's report on the experiment offers lessons learned.

One rationale for the UNC test was preparation for a flu pandemic. A leading strategy for response, as seen in the 2009 response in K-12 school districts, is social distancing or literally putting space between humans to reduce spread of a disease. A key strategy of online education (with a nod to the similar vocabulary) is social presence.

© 2009 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

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