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COVID-19 Update: Fall Semester to Continue Offering Classes Online
KAIST announced that the university would continue online classes through the fall semester. However, the university will conduct additional in-person classes for upper-level undergraduate lab classes and some graduate courses where on-site interaction was deemed to be highly necessary. Some 600-level graduate courses at the Daejeon campus and graduate courses at the Seoul campus will carry out both in-person and online classes. The fall semester will start from August 31. Provost and Executive Vice President Kwang Hyung Lee announced the fall semester plan in his letter to the entire student body on July 9. He said that the university decided to continue with online classes in consideration of the safety of KAIST community members and the current status of the COVID-19 spread. However, he said the new plan will help students choose class options between in-person and online classes. “Although the number of classes with two versions is limited, we believe this will help many students continue learning without the sustained face-to-face contact that is inherent in residential education,” Provost Lee said. In-person classes conducted in the fall semester will also be provided online for students who are not available for in-person classes. Students may choose the type of the classes they prefer according to their situation, among only the courses that will offer two versions. Professors will decide if they will conduct two versions of their classes. The Office of Academic Affairs is collecting the professors’ applications for conducting both versions until July 24. KAIST offered real-time online classes and pre-recorded KLMS (KAIST Learning Management System) classes during the spring semester with a very limited number of in-person lab classes for graduate courses and these two versions of online class will continue for fall semester. Provost Lee asked the students who will take the in-person classes to strictly observe all precaution measures as the university will do its best to abide by the government guidelines against the Covid-19 in preparation for the fall semester. “We will continue to make appropriate and safe accommodations for them,” said Provost Lee. Those who need to reside in on-campus dormitories are required to be approved for moving. The applications will open after all the in-person class schedules are fixed next month. However, students who were approved for staying in the dormitories last semester can move in without additional approval procedures for the fall semester. (END)
COVID-19 Update: Reaching Out to Help Local Schools’ Online Classes
After the Ministry of Education decided that all schools would conduct online classes from April 9, schools began to ramp up online education tools and systems. On March 30, the Ministry announced a three-phased opening for the schools, putting online classes for third-year middle and high school students first. The online classes will expand to first and second-year middle and high schoolers and the upper grades of elementary schools on April 16, followed by first to third graders of elementary schools on April 20. Although some schools have already introduced online teaching and learning into the curriculum, most schools are still unprepared, raising concerns over possible educational disparities caused by insufficient infrastructures and a lack of training for teachers. To counter these issues, KAIST rolled up its sleeves to help teachers from 38 local middle and high schools in the Yuseong District of Daejeon better prepare for their interactive online classes by providing a special training course from April 7 through 29. Following the course, approximately 40 undergraduate and graduate students will be assigned to schools to help them set up and better utilize the online educational program. On April 3, Professor Youngsun Kwon, the Dean of KAIST Academy and the Director of the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, gave a two-hour online interactive tutorial session on the utilization of the real-time video conferencing platform ‘Zoom’ for online classes. He shared best practices for checking attendance, running classes, and giving and marking quizzes and assignments. A total of 102 local middle and high school teachers attended this session. “We feel very fortunate to reach out to teachers who are so passionate about learning online education methodology. We were pleasantly surprised to see this many educators show up for the tutorial session,” said Dean Kwon. He also appreciated KAIST students’ strong interests and support in the community outreach project in response to COVID-19 during these challenging times when social distancing is so critical. He said more than 150 student volunteers signed up for this project 10 hours after his office posted the opening for volunteers on the KAIST intranet. “We will help front-line school teachers, strictly following the government’s guidelines for social distancing,” he added. The students’ online class support group will provide additional help to schools that are inexperienced users of Zoom. The students will be those who are very familiar with online lectures using Zoom, and are fully acquainted with how to operate them. One or two of the students will be assigned to each school that requests support, and will directly help solve complications that stem from preparing and running the classes through online measures for safety reasons. The expenses for the support group’s activities will be fully covered by KAIST, and the period of support may be extended upon request. KAIST has been offering approximately 1,200 courses remotely since the spring semester opened on March 16 and will do so until the COVID-19 situation stabilizes. Along with the provision of pre-recorded one-way lecture contents, real-time two-way lessons are being delivered through various video conferencing platforms including Zoom, YouTube Live, and Microsoft Teams. There were both minor and major technical issues at the beginning of the semester, caused by the instability of servers and system overloads as well as from users being inexperienced with the tools and systems. However, the class procedures have gradually stabilized and are now running better. KAIST President Sung-Chul Shin said, “As the COVID-19 situation lingers, this is a more difficult time than ever, where all educational establishments and educators must quickly learn and apply new methods of education, often in insufficient preparation conditions.” He added, “KAIST will provide support for secondary schools in the region to quickly resolve the inconveniences caused by new users of online classes so that they may provide high-quality education.” (END)
COVID-19 Update: Students and Professors Adjust to 1,200 Online Classes
- Approximately 1,200 online classes are being offered during the cyber semester. - COVID-19 is transforming the way KAISTians live. Many restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the virus have us adjusting to a new environment swiftly. A cyber MOU signing ceremony with a foreign partner university took place on March 25, as did a cyber Board of Trustees Meeting on March 26. KAIST’s Main Campus is normally one of the most iconic picnic destinations for the citizens of Daejeon, but this is not the case this spring, as the campus has been temporarily closed to protect our own community as well as our neighboring communities. KAIST has been offering approximately 1,200 courses remotely since this semester opened on March 16 and will do so until further notice. Students and faculty members are experiencing the newly emerging norms of remote education in this time of social distancing. This unexpected disruption might advance the new digital pedagogy at KAIST, which was already ahead of the curve with its online learning and teaching infrastructure. Professor Youngsun Kwon, the Dean of KAIST Academy and the Director of the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, said, “We had already initiated the KAIST Learning Management System (KLMS) in 2011 for introducing flipped learning, a student-centric creative-learning pedagogy. Since then, about nine percent of all our classes have been run using this methodology. Students pre-study the online streaming lecture materials that professors have uploaded in advance outside the classroom, and in-class activities are mainly group discussions and problem-solving activities.” According to Dean Kwon, the university was planning to further introduce real-time online education from this spring semester and were in the process of setting up the system started from last year. “Our plan was to connect the real-time video conferencing service Zoom to our existing remote educational platform KLMS. However, things related to COVID-19 all happened so rapidly that we didn’t yet have a full-fledged connection,” said Dean Kwon. Professors had to choose either to conduct their lectures remotely in the form of a pre-made one-way lesson or a real-time two-way lesson. They could also modify them using both platforms. Professor Youngchul Kim from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering said, “I had to also make some changes in my class activities and assignments. I removed a group design project and some tutorial workshops that were meant to provide students with hands-on experience using design tools such a 3D printer and a laser cutting system. Ironically, I found that students seem to focus on online lectures more intensely than I expected. I feel like students give me their thoughts and respond much quicker as well.” Unfortunately, the online learning and teaching infrastructure and resources that had been put in place could not handle the overwhelming volume of classes being uploaded over very short period of time. To handle the new demand, IT technicians are setting up the technical environment with stable servers to improve network traffic. For professors, teaching assistants, and students to teach and learn better in an online space, department offices have been lending spare equipment such as laptops, tablets, headsets, and webcams to those who do not have their own, based on availability. Academic support staff have also been pitching in by developing the best guidelines for online training. “Even in these uncharted waters, all of the members of KAIST are doing their best to keep the ship steadily sailing in the right direction. I am very grateful for everyone’s efforts to make things work,” said Dean Kwon. About 60% of the courses currently offered online are being uploaded using the non-real-time KLMS, and the remaining 40% are run in real time via Zoom. Each class runs for 50 minutes per academic credit, and comprises at least 25 minutes of lecture, a Q&A session, and a group discussion. Students enrolled in the 481 courses that include experiments are asked to conduct their experiments individually after watching a 50-minute online lecture. Experimental, practical, and physical courses that are impossible to provide online have been cancelled or postponed until the next semester or summer/winter breaks. “I find the online lessons quite convenient for the courses that I am taking this semester, especially the non-real-time ones, because I can watch the lecture videos over and over again even after the class has finished to understand the contents better,” said Jaymee Palma, an undergraduate student from the Department of Chemistry. Ada Carpenter, an undergraduate student from the Department of Physics, added, “Students who normally feel uncomfortable speaking in class raise their questions on an online Q&A board more easily. Besides, I saw many other students asking questions and leading a discussion verbally as well. I think, when students join a synchronous Zoom classroom, they are more engaged than when just attending a regular lecture in a conventional classroom. It’s like everyone can sit in the front row of the class.” Still, there are reportedly pedagogical, logistical, and technological challenges to these extraordinary educational measures. Some students express concerns about keeping up with professors and other students if they don’t have sufficient technological knowledge and skills. Some also cite the disadvantage of online classes having much less interaction and engagement among students and between professors and students than offline ones. “Fortunately, I think my professors are all excellent, so I can immerse myself well during all my cyber classes,” said Sang-Hyeon Lee, a graduate student from the School of Computing. (END)
COVID-19 Update: All Undergrad Housing Closed
KAIST stepped up preventive measures against the outbreak of COVID-19 by closing all housing complexes for undergraduate students. Provost Kwang-Hyung Lee, in an email to KAIST community members on March 12, advised all undergraduate students who had already moved in to the dormitories to move out by March 23. The university opened the spring semester on March 16, two weeks later than originally scheduled, due to the outbreak. All in-person classes have been shifted to online classes and this will continue until further notice. “The dormitory would likely become the source of a COVID-19 cluster on the campus. Given the gravity of the current situation, we can’t help but make this unprecedented measure. It is fully for the best interests for our students’ health and safety. It saddens me to say that students are required to go back to their homes,” said Provost Lee. Dormitory fees will be refunded, and transportation and storage services will be provided for students who return back home. It has not yet been decided when they can return to the campus. There are four exceptional cases for this special measure: 1. when a student does not have legal residency in Korea, 2. if a student’s legal residence is located in a severely affected region such as Daegu, Chongdo, and Kyongsan, 3. if students in their final semester before the graduation need to take a research class that is not available online, 4. if students have a very special reason that does not allow them to stay at home. Such students are required to meet the Associate Vice President of Student Life for approval of the exceptional stay. Meanwhile, the first day of the online semester on March 16 saw an overwhelming amount of traffic on the remote educational platform, the KAIST learning management system (KLMS), and the real-time platform, Zoom. The two systems were both overloaded. The Dean of the KAIST Academy sent an email to the community, explaining the technical glitch causing the overload. He said his office had fixed the problem, allowing resumed access to the system from inside and outside the campus. Considered the nature of classes that are difficult or impossible to provide online, the university decided to cancel the some of physical training classes such as golf, dance sports, badminton, swimming, and tennis this semester. Social distancing is another issue the university is enhancing throughout the campus. The university announced new lunch break shifts to disperse the dining hall crowds; the first shift is from 11:30 to 12:30 and the second shift is from 12:30 to 13:30, effective from March 17. The COVID-19 response bulletin also instructed KAIST community members to sit in a row, not face to face, when eating together with colleagues, and asked them to refrain from talking while eating. In addition, a total of 29 virus and fine duster filtering machines have been installed across the campus dining facilities. The bulletin posted on March 13 restressed the importance of wearing a face mask in compact areas such as elevators and refrain the non-essential business or personal travel. Parents who need to take care of their children due to the closure of schools and day care centers are advised to work from home. (END)
COVID-19 Update: All Classes to Go Online after Semester Opens
All classes of undergraduate and graduate courses will go online from March 16 in a protective measure for the KAIST community to slow the spread of COVID-19. No decision has yet been made for how long the online classes will last. The spring semester will start two weeks later than scheduled due to the outbreak of the COVID-19. For online classes, professors are uploading their taped class video clips onto the KAIST Learning Management System (KLMS). These classes will be conducted in both real time and on demand. The video conferencing solution Zoom will be employed for real-time online classes, and professors and students will interact using the bulletin board function for on-demand classes. The university is scaling up its institutional response to protect the KAIST community against the outbreak of the disease following the cancellation and postponing of major academic events including the commencement and matriculation ceremonies scheduled in February and March. The new protective measures include all sports complexes and facilities temporarily closing from February 24. All building entrance gates are only accessible with those carrying a KAIST ID card. A total of nine fever monitors have been installed in the university headquarter building, main library, dining halls, the day care center at Daejeon campus, and at the Seoul campus. The Emergency Response Team is posting a daily bulletin and response manual on the KAIST portal system with updates on the number of confirmed cases in Daejeon and other regions including Seoul as well as reminder notices to help contain the spread. Provost Kwang-Hyung Lee advised KAIST community members to refrain from traveling to the gravely affected region and foreign countries in an email sent on March 11. Anyone who has a travel history in those regions should report it to the Emergency Response Team and self-quarantine for two weeks at home or in a designated dorm complex. KAIST surveyed all community members’ travel histories last month and instructed those who had traveled to Daegu and foreign countries or had contact with a confirmed patient to go into self-isolation or work from home while conducting intensive self-monitoring. They have been asked to report their temperature to the Emergency Response Team twice a day. The response manual recommends canceling or postponing meetings and events at the campus. “If necessary, we ask that you make a conference call instead,” said the Emergency Response Team. Meanwhile, the Academic Affairs Office decided to employ a flexible academic schedule in consideration of students’ circumstances during this extraordinary outbreak situation. “We still need to run 16 weeks of classes for the semester but we are being flexible in how the classes can be run. It will wholly depend on the professor and students’ discussions based on their situation. We won’t apply a unilateral mid-term and final exam week during this special time,” said the bulletin from the Academic Affairs Office. (END)
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