Monday, November 23, 2020

Sangamon County health officials fear community COVID-19 trajectory

The University of Illinois Springfield hosted a webinar with physicians on the front lines of the pandemic.

Dr. Raj Govindaiah, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Memorial Health System, said for nine months, health care workers have lived through the stress of the pandemic.

"We shut down. We stopped doing things and people said, 'Why'd we do that, nothing happened,'" Govindaiah said. "Well, it's happening now."

Govindaiah said the recent surge of cases has hit health care systems hard.

"It's taking its toll on everyone in the community," Govindaiah said. "It's taking its toll on our hospital care, and it's taking an immense toll on the people who are providing that care."

According to Govindaiah, positivity rates in Sangamon County are at an all-time high.

"COVID-19 positive test results, you can see the percentage, it skyrocketed, reaching as high as 26 percent," Govindaiah said. "Right now, we're at 22.6 percent for the last seven days. This is all-together too high."

This story appeared on WAND on November 20, 2020.

Friday, November 20, 2020

UIS sets start times for 2020 basketball

The University of Illinois Springfield basketball teams — for now allowed to play despite Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker’s increased restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic — have set their game times for the games in the 2020 portion of the schedule.

Weekday men and women doubleheaders at UIS’ The Recreation and Athletic Center will begin at 4:30 p.m. with the women’s tip-off, followed by the men’s games at 7 p.m.

The season opener is set for Nov. 27 against Great Lakes Valley Conference foe Quincy. The only other home weekday game is Friday, Dec. 18 against Indianapolis, another GLVC opponent.

Four of the first six games for UIS will be at the TRAC.

No fans will be allowed at any contest due to coronavirus restrictions but all games will be live streamed through the GLVC Sports Network.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 29, 2020.

Creating a New Model for MOOCS

In 2008, massive, open, online courses burst onto the higher education landscape when two Canadian researchers launched a course on the theory of connectivism that enrolled 25 students on the campus of the University of Manitoba and another 2,300 learners worldwide online.

The scalability of MOOCs became clear three years later, when a team of professors at Stanford offered a free online course on artificial intelligence to 160,000 students across the globe. By 2012, three companies — Udacity, Coursera, and edX — were producing MOOCs, and educators began predicting that the online platforms would disrupt the future of higher education.

Fueled by the coronavirus pandemic, MOOCs are now experiencing an unprecedented boom as millions of people have signed up for these free online courses. Since mid-March, more than 20 million learners have registered for a class with Coursera, the largest MOOC platform, a 360 percent increase from the same period last year. And edX, the next largest MOOC provider, has seen an uptick of 10 million new users since the pandemic began, more than twice the amount that joined in all of 2019.

“The pandemic has been transformative for many institutions,” said Ray Schroeder, associate vice chancellor for online learning at the University of Illinois Springfield, who organized a MOOC in 2011. “They have awakened to online learning. It could take years to tame a mutating virus, all the while universities will have to cope with periodic campus outbreaks. Online learning will become a mainstay of learning delivery among the institutions that survive.”

This article appeared on the website Unbound in November 2020.