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Nov 6, 2022

How to double room capacity on campus?

To do that, we need a couple of tweaks n the scheduling system. First, add Weal A and Weak B to the scheduling greed. For example, if you want to schedule a class in a certain room on only odd weeks of the semester, you can schedule another class in the same room on even weeks. Second, make hybrid modality a default in in the system. If somebody wants to meet every week, it is still fine, they can book a room for both weeks A and B. However, the default would be meeting every other week, and meeting online for the rest. This kind of switch does not require changes in program’s accreditation status. After the pandemic experience, most faculty can manage the online portion of the class. However, most students need some in-class presence to stay focused and motivated, so a hybrid class is often an acceptable compromise.

Figuring out which classes are OK to be taught fully online for which audiences, - this task turned out to be much more complicated that we ever imagined. I expect some time is needed to get a fuller understanding of what is the best mix of modalities. Some problems only time will solve. As I have said before, the dual modality instruction that sounded so great in theory, turned out to be impractical for most faculty (although not for all). In the meanwhile, it seems reasonable to default to a half-way solution of hybrid courses; the solution that blend some of the advantages of online learning with those of f2f classroom. It seems to be the least risky option. It also solves a very practical problem of classroom capacity at a relatively low cost.

We will also eventually arrive at shared offices for staff and faculty who telecommute. There is a lot of psychological barriers to that, including attachment to one’s office, the sense of self-worth, office decorations, the kids’ pictures, and all the other office culture. However, the pragmatics will win in the end. The public will not be paying for hundreds of empty offices if telecommuting continues to be the norm. Taxpayers will start asking questions sooner or later.

In the future, the footprint of workplaces in general will shrink, and commuting will be reduced. As people will work more at home and less in their offices, we won’t need as many offices. It is good for both the environment and for people’s well-being. Less driving means cleaner air and lower cost of gas. Working part of the week from home will become the norm. I do not believe fully remote workers will be very common wither. Again, compromises tend to win the day, unless someone finds real evidence that partial telecommuting reduces productivity. I have not seen any evidence like that yet, which does not mean it does not exist. It is likely, that the partial telecommuting works better for some industries, but not for others. It works fine for universities so far. Let’s think about smaller campuses with lighter footprint.

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