A growing number of universities and colleges are shifting to remote learning and cancelling in-person classes due to fears of the spread of the coronavirus. Some schools are even asking students to leave their campuses. More than 1,000 cases have now been reported in the US.

American University, the University of Maryland, Syracuse University and Rice University are among those canceling in-person lectures, according to the New York Times. Harvard University plans to transition to online instruction only by March 23rd.

Medical advisers have placed pressure on these schools to take action due to spring break, a period of increased travel for students. There is fear that students who traveled may have contracted the virus, and that there’s a greater opportunity for it to spread on campuses where students live in close proximity to each other.

Students are also being encouraged to find alternative housing or stay home after spring break or for the remainder of the semester at schools like Cornell University and Princeton University.

University leaders are therefore seeking more long-term solutions and enlisting technology they can implement quickly to account for the move to virtual learning.

It’s important to note that many instructors at universities aren’t trained or prepared to teach for online. They’re therefore scrambling to redesign their courses and current methods for teaching for the online experience.

“Copy-pasting” an in-person lecture format to an online course isn’t recommended. What works for in-person, face-to-face interactions often doesn’t translate when students are remote and surrounded by additional distractions.

Captioning all videos is one method to consider implementing immediately for all online courses. Captions are proven to help with student retention and engagement. Additional universities are utilizing captions live as well via CART (communication access real-time translation) services to provide transcripts and captions to students in real-time.

Live CART services help to meet the accessibility needs of students learning with disabilities, such as those living with hearing impairments, and who need additional assistance to participate in online courses effectively. However, live captions and transcripts can also greatly benefit all students, as well as additional subsets like international students.

Universities and colleges can lean on technology to ensure that students remain engaged and that the communities and networks built around their courses aren’t hindered by the spread of this virus.

Here are some helpful resources for college leaders to browse as they make the move to digital with online learning:


As always, Verbit is here to help our higher-ed community however we can. Contact us with any questions as you navigate these trying times.