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< Back to question Should colleges and universities open in person for the Fall 2020 semester? Show more Show less

The COVID-19 pandemic has left the future of colleges and universities in a state of utter uncertainty. Across the world they are struggling to come up with safe and equitable strategies for reopening, but which one is best?

Yes – Students should be allowed back on campus for in-person classes Show more Show less

Colleges should reopen their doors in the fall and allow students to come back to campus. Nothing can beat the on-campus experience, and students deserve the opportunity to experience this.
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Innovation and science depends on schools

Schools and universities are engines for technological innovations. Shutting them down reduces the chances that those institutions will help solve society's problems.
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The Argument

Converting classes for online platforms is relatively feasible for many majors within the humanities and social sciences, but for a department that requires hands-on physical learning and lab work, converting to an online platform threatens the integrity of learning and research projects. Courses in the hard sciences, such as biology and chemistry, require lab and field time for practical experience. Students won't have access to the necessary equipment and tools for class, and many of the would-be routine activities will have to be reworked or removed entirely if classes are online. Lab and fieldwork in STEM degrees are where students develop many of the necessary skills to prepare them for future work in the field, learning how to use the technology, conduct experiments, run tests, and interpret results. Many colleges and universities are leaders in scientific research, but with the social distancing required to prevent the spread, ongoing and emerging research projects could be in danger. Without easy access to labs especially, valuable research may be lost as research samples go unattended and results unrecorded. The integrity and stability of research is threatened if research institutions remain online and lab access restricted or denied.[1] Online platforms obstructs students ability to learn and impact researcher's ability to conduct effective studies. A lot of what students learn in labs prepares them for careers in the outside world, teaching them how to use real equipment and conduct real practical experiments and research. Higher education play a vital role in teaching future scientists and facilitating scientific development, therefore every effort should be made for them to be able to reopen and resume in-person learning and research.

Counter arguments

While students are not getting as many real hands-on experiences, the shift to online learning is democratizing as professors are able to open up their classes to more students.[2] The online platforms remove many financial and geographical barriers to student's learning, allowing more students to take part. Online learning platforms are also more accessible to second language students who can slow down and repeat recorded lectures and avoid falling behind. Professors have developed creative solutions to these barriers and found innovative ways of getting students a virtual lab practical experience, while are sending lab kits to student's homes for them to participate remotely.[3] This is especially important as the future of fieldwork itself is changing. These new strategies will likely extend beyond the college classroom and into the real lab and research settings, therefore providing a practical learning experience for students.[2]

Premises

[P1] Technical sciences require in-person learning. [P2] Online courses cannot replicate lab and field experiences. [P3] Higher education should reopen in order for students to learn the necessary skills for future employment.

Rejecting the premises


References

  1. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/updated-labs-go-quiet-researchers-brace-long-term-coronavirus-disruptions#
  2. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/07/during-pandemic-students-do-field-and-lab-work-without-leaving-home
  3. https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2020/08/05/engineering-instructor-disagrees-notion-lab-courses-cant-be-taught-effectively

This page was last edited on Thursday, 3 Sep 2020 at 22:57 UTC

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