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Blizzard U: D.C. colleges dig out

Good morning -- er, afternoon -- from College Inc.

We have returned to our home in Garrett Park, where power was restored around 9 p.m. Monday. (Thank you, Pepco.) We are bracing for another outage. Our town is an arboretum, you see, and many of the innumerable trees are already drooping under the weight of the last snow.

Here are some dispatches from around the region's mostly shuttered campuses:

Ann Pauley writes this from Trinity Washington University:

Dan: Following up on my e-mail yesterday, I though you'd like to see how one Trinity professor, Dr. Lori Estes, Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Biology, is staying connected with students and keeping her classes going, even though Trinity has been closed since noon last Friday. They are doing so through Moodle, and online course management system which is used by all faculty for all courses (not just for online courses). On Moodle, they can post reading, post quizzes, have online discussions and real-time chats, and much more. Here is what Dr. Estes is doing with her 2 biology classes.

From: Lori Estes
Subject: RE: Using Moodle in the Snow

My students in BIOL-431 (General Physiology) are conducting a forum conversation, which is a follow up to a movie we viewed in lab last Thursday. This is helping everyone in class stay connected and will, hopefully, allow us to discuss and examine in great detail the factors involved in experimental design and practice of The Scientific Method. All of our science majors need to be strong in these topics, particularly those getting ready to graduate and take their written and oral comprehensive exams. The students in this class also have extra-credit quizzes available to them to practice problems and learn concepts introduced in lecture before the storm.

In BIOL-121 (Human Anatomy & Physiology I), students also have access to extra-credit quizzes to test their understanding of material covered in class before the inclement weather arrived. Additionally, I've posted animations to help them visualize difficult concepts involving cell function and cell division (mitosis and meiosis). Finally, lab exercises usually prepared in a collaborative setting during the weekly laboratory meeting will be completed remotely this week; students can then upload their answers to Moodle and get their work graded immediately to see if any areas of study might need additional attention.

From St. John's College in Annapolis, Rosemary Harty sends this:

Hi, Daniel -- this is a little late, but I was one of the lucky ones with no
power the last few days. We are here today. Just wanted to let you know we
had to cancel our senior essay party. [couldn't get the food or the students
there, as it's in the Annapolis Wardour neighborhood.] Instead of the old
tradition of handing four copies to the dean at the President's house, the
students e-mailed them.

Just not the same! But 100 percent of the students turned them in.

Nevertheless, they still climbed to the Belltower of McDowell Hall for their celebratory peal of the St. John's bell. It was a little muffled with all the snow. Our President is going to reschedule the party when the snow melts.


From Gallaudet University in the District, Mercy Coogan says this:

Gallaudet is closed today, but here's what's going on:

1. We have put up Facilities and Food Service employees at our Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center so we can continue to serve our residential students.

2. We had to reschedule our Board of Trustees meeting from this week to, well, whenever Mother Nature takes a break.

3. Some of our professors are preparing online lessons; at least one that I know is talking about setting up a Video Phone link from her home to her students sitting in one of our classrooms hooked up with VP technology. It won't be a formal class, but a way of staying in touch with her class.

Michelle Sherrard at George Washington University has this:

Hi Dan, the only things unique we have is that our president actually lives on campus, so he's been out and about on campus, mingling with students. Our students also coordinated a snowball fight on the University Yard Monday.

Please check out our new Higher Education page for news, blogs, admissions advice and links to the Chronicle of Higher Education and campus newspapers. http://washingtonpost.com/higher-ed. Bookmark it!

And send us your Tweets using the new #wpcollege hashtag. They will automatically appear on our live Twitter feed on the Higher Education page. Check it out!

By Daniel de Vise  |  February 9, 2010; 11:47 AM ET
Categories:  Administration  | Tags: GWU, Gallaudet University, St. John's College, Trinity Washington University, snow days  
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