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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

April 21, Operational Update

April 21, 2020 Update (View on YouTube)


President Feinstein (00:00):
Well, good morning everybody. Tuesday, April 21st, and this is our daily operation status report. As a reminder, today at four o'clock is the all-faculty meeting, and tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM is our Board of Trustees meeting, and I hope that you can join us for those conversations. So this morning we are pleased to have another guest speaker. Dr. Matt Farber is an assistant professor of technology, innovation and pedagogy at UNC and is also the cofounder of the TIP Creativity Lab. He holds an Ed.D. in Educational Technology Leadership and an MA in Educational Technology from New Jersey City University, as well as a BA in History from the State University of New York at Albany.

President Feinstein (00:48):
His research is at the intersection of game-based and social emotional learning. He studies educators who use games in classrooms and how they afford student agency while also teaching skills of empathy, design thinking and systems thinking. He also works in youth initiatives around game design as a form of self-expression. His presentation is titled "Connected Learning in Uncertain Times" and will be especially helpful to those of you who are working or learning alongside young children who are also home from school during this time. Matt, the floor is yours.

Matt Farber (01:27):
Hi, good morning. Thank you.

President Feinstein (01:28):
You're welcome.

Matt Farber (01:31):
I'm visible on the screen? It's hard to tell. [inaudible 00:01:36].

President Feinstein (01:36):
Yep, I can see you. You've got a Minecraft background. I like it.

Matt Farber (01:40):
Thank you. Of course. So yeah, thanks for the introduction. I'll try to keep it short and succinct. Yeah, so I guess the short thumbnail version is that I have no work-life balance, not because I'm like constantly teaching UNC and researching online, but it's because of the overlap of games and play and learning and having a nine-year-old son. So thank you. I'll share some slides. I actually think I'm able to do that, but let's see. There we go. Okay, so I'm going to share my screen, see how this works. No pressure being in the Technology, Innovation and Pedagogy department, being able to share a screen. Okay. I'm assuming you can see this, so I just have a few slides.

Matt Farber (02:36):
Okay, awesome. Thanks so much. Yeah. So this is an initiative from the World Health Organization, which had previously critiqued gaming before and have really done a 180 here, and there's an initiative called Play Apart Together, which is with all the major video game companies. And it's about how games actually provide a high degree of social connectedness amongst the players. There's this myth that persist that people that play video games are wearing headsets and living in the basement and drinking orange soda all day and only playing like certain games. But the average age of somebody that plays video games, do you know? Anybody want to take a guess? Shout it out.

Speaker 3 (03:28):

Matt Farber (03:29):

Dan Maxey (03:31):

Matt Farber (03:32):
Close. It's about 35 years old. It's about equal men and women. And the fastest growing demographic are senior citizens. It's just that games are different, the different types of games people play, and of course mobile games. So we have been playing games to be connected to one another for quite a while. So here's one I've been playing called Kind Words, and I'm writing a book right now on the intersection of social and emotional learning and game-based learning. And certain types of games, I mean not like a first person shooter, that's not going to like bring out a lot of compassionate people. Although people do play together, and they have headsets on and talk, but this is a game called Kind Words, and it's a fairly straight forward game where you write letters anonymously to real people, and they write back to other players anonymously. And it's like how the internet used to be, like kind and not as toxic. So this is the game I've been playing in researching a bit in and it's sort of a game, sort of social media, more like a game, about kindness.

Matt Farber (04:45):
The designer of that game referred to it as games being in like this cozy space. So this is one of the more popular games these days called Animal Crossing. And there is a company in Japan that's had their meetings in Animal Crossing. It's on Nintendo. There are students that meet together, right? You can make your own island, anybody, have you played? So yeah, it's the right game at the right time basically. And how that works in classrooms, right? So this is something put together by the University of Southern California, supported by Higher Education Video Game Alliance, which I'm a part of, called Zoom Jam. And the idea here is to make a game within the constraints of Zoom. Of course it can work in Teams as well.

Matt Farber (05:36):
There's one on the archive where if a cat jumps into your camera frame, then you have to leave the camera and then the other people in the Zoom have to make up a story about the cat that's in the frame. So it's just a way to bring some escapism and social connectedness to our uncertain times that we're in now. And you can submit a game, it's free, it's a nonprofit, and it's zoomjam.org. This is from a colleague of mine at a Drexel University in Pennsylvania. This is a Zoom Jam she had her students all make together where they're promoting social connectedness and sharing stories. So there are a lot of different ways games can bring us together these days.

Matt Farber (06:23):
So anyway, these are some screenshots from my son who's nine as I mentioned, and what we've been doing is I'm keeping him on different games when he's not on Zoom himself at school. Right? And this is from Minecraft, and he took a map from Disneyland. We were there like two summers ago, and he's been building Disneyland. Yesterday he was working at Adventure Land. He actually built the jungle cruise. He put a track, like a train track, over like one block deep of water and made all the cruise around and built the animals. So this is what we mean by game-based learning. He also uses screen time differently. So we hear a lot about screen time prior to COVID-19; now there's a huge embrace of screen time, particularly for connecting with the outside world like we're doing right now literally. Right? How meta.

Matt Farber (07:16):
So this is something called Art for Kids hub. It's a art teacher. He's an art teacher. That's his family in Utah, and he has step-by-step drawing. So this is how my son uses his iPad. He doesn't just stare at it like a zombie. He's, plays it. Hit pause, draws the images on the bottom, the health heroes in this case, plays it again, goes back again, and again the same with Minecraft. He's learning from other YouTubers on YouTube Kids. So I guess the reason I'm here, I was contacted here, is because I was a UNC News about this article, making a game of it. And these are four points that I wanted to share. One is don't worry that kids are going to forget everything because they're not in a traditional academic settings such as school.

Matt Farber (08:03):
A lot of learning is informal, we learn on our own, we learn on YouTube, they learn through going to our own classes. We learn ... Right now we're learning from each other, right? Being a learning broker, this comes out of research from the Cooney Center, which is Joan Ganz Cooney, founder of Sesame Street, and I've done some collaboration with them. So parents can be learning brokers. If you find out that your child likes cooking, well introduce them to spaces where they can learn more about cooking, or photography, or citizen science, or creating games, not just playing games. Thinking about screen time as a third space. So it's not school or home, but the reason why kids are on Fortnite, for instance, is because that's a third space where they can interact and connect with one another, and they know that games have different types of emotion than film and books, because you're in the game, you're perspective taking, you're having agency, and you're taking control. So I will stop sharing, I suppose. That's my short talk, it's like a Ignite talk almost. There we go. Thank you. Any questions?

President Feinstein (09:23):
Matt, I really appreciate that. The conversation, sharing your insight with you, with us. I'm a little bit of a gamer myself.

Matt Farber (09:32):
Oh, awesome.

President Feinstein (09:33):
I certainly enjoy multiplayer games, and there's one I'm playing right now, of course I love disc golf. So I play a game called Disc Golf Valley from time to time and certainly experimented with Minecraft with my son. And he's built a ... He and his friends have built a whole city together, and they spend time not only in that reality, but also in communicating with each other, as you said, like a separate complete environment for them.

Matt Farber (10:02):
Yeah. It's ... Yeah, that's, it's terrific, right. By the way, the governor, Jared Polis, he's also a gamer and yeah. And I show those pictures of Disneyland, my son didn't want to show me on his iPad. He insisted that I put it on my phone, Minecraft on my phone. That way I can stand in front of the castle and then he was behind the castle firing off fireworks.

President Feinstein (10:27):
Oh, how great is that?

Matt Farber (10:28):
Yeah. So yeah. Interesting times. Right? So yeah.

President Feinstein (10:34):
But I really greatly appreciate your time and, and your conversation this morning. Thank you.

Matt Farber (10:39):
Thank you so much.

President Feinstein (10:42):
You're welcome. You're welcome. So now I'm going to turn it over to our chief of staff, Dan Maxey. He's going to moderate conversations with the coronavirus task force leads. Dan?

Dan Maxey (10:52):
Thank you, President Feinstein. And thanks to Matt Farber for this morning's presentation. My cat almost jumped in the frame, and I thought that might excuse me from having to lead the reports here, but he crawled away. So it's Tuesday. The cabinet and coronavirus task force do not have scheduled meetings today, although I know some of the task force subcommittees do. As our daily panel gives reports, please remember to unmute your microphones and turn on your cameras. We're going to turn things over to the chair of our coronavirus task force, associate vice president for administration, Blaine Nickeson, for our developing issues report. Blaine?

Blaine Nickeson (11:25):
Good morning, Dan. Good morning, everybody. A little bit longer of an update this morning given the announcements yesterday from Governor Polis. He announced yesterday that the state would transition from a quote unquote stay at home order to a model called safer at home starting on Monday the 27th. This is a slight adjustment rather than a massive change. Currently with the stay at home order, Colorado has been achieving social distancing in the 75 to 80% range, and even in the new model, we'll need to maintain about 65% to avoid overwhelming the healthcare system. Masks are definitely going to be a necessity in public and in workplaces that are open. Those that can work at home still need to, especially older employees. The max staffing at offices should be 50% through work from home measures or things like staggered shifts at manufacturers. Gatherings of more than 10 people will still be prohibited, and colleges and K through 12 schools are still ordered closed.

Blaine Nickeson (12:28):
Retail's going to have sort of a transition. They'll be able to offer a curbside service initially followed by some in-store shopping after May 1st if they put appropriate distancing measures in place, and personal services like barbers and dentists will be allowed to resume services, but with folks wearing masks, no gathering in waiting rooms, et cetera. It's not envisioned that much is going to change for restaurants and bars at this point until mid-May at the earliest. This is very much going to be an exercise in closely following the data. If people aren't responsible and don't take the safer at home model seriously, we'll see infections and hospitalizations spike, hospitalization spike again, and the more restrictive measures that we're in now will have to be put right back in place. It's also important to note that cities and counties can have more restrictive measures in place.

Blaine Nickeson (13:21):
To show some foreshadowing of that, yesterday evening after the governor's press conference, the mayor of Denver tweeted that he'd, quote, rather dig us out of an economic challenge than dig graves for people when he could have prevented needless loss of life. So we're going to see a very sort of checkerboard landscape of, of regulations. It's ironic the governor made this announcement yesterday as this past weekend state public health officials sent the governor a letter warning that the state needed to meet five criteria before beginning to open, including the first one, seeing a sustained 14-day reduction in new COVID-19 cases, and that has not happened. Adequate hospital capacity, we're okay for now, but PPE still in short supply. We're also continuing to build some of our surge capacity through places like The Ranch and Colorado Convention Center. Increased testing and tracing of COVID-19 patients, we're not prepared to do that at this point, and then clear guidelines on social distancing for businesses to reopen, we are doing that. As we look at a statewide data, we actually crossed over 10,000 positive cases yesterday, 10,106, that's up about 1,400 cases or 17% since yesterday.

Blaine Nickeson (14:37):
That's a pretty big spike. The biggest daily jump based on looking back in my data since March 27th. Just shy of 1,900 have been hospitalized. It's up a little bit less than 4% since yesterday. 47,000 plus had been tested. It's up 3% day-over-day, and Colorado has an increase of 27 deaths, or up to 449. Here in Weld County, they reported a 5% increase in cases, 1,164, since yesterday and an increase of four deaths, or 68 deaths in the county. Weld's holding relatively steady, but Morgan County out to our east has really seen their numbers ramp up. Their per capita rate is about two thirds higher than Weld County, and the JBS plant is scheduled to reopen at the end of the week with some additional preventative measures in place.

Blaine Nickeson (15:28):
UNC's coronavirus task force will continue working to try to understand what this new set of guidelines means for students and faculty and staff. As I said above, the new guidelines still explicitly state that in-person higher education is closed, but we hope to get some more explicit guidance from the state's Department of Higher Education in the coming days. So thank you for humoring the longer report there. Dan, I'll go ahead and turn it back over to you.

Dan Maxey (15:52):
Thank you, Blaine. Next, I'll turn it over to Dean of Students Tuck Tucker for our report on impacts on student life. Tuck?

Gardiner Tucker (15:58):
Good morning everyone. Coming towards the exam time of the semester puts a lot of pressure on our students and especially to finish up writing projects and research projects. So UNC's strategy is to provide writing support for our students, especially in April. So today's example is our Writing Center, which supports students all year long for their writing projects, but April is the highest-use time for the Writing Center, and the director, Melody Denny, has moved writing support online. So she hires undergraduates, master's students and doctoral students from a wide range of disciplines to give writing support to students. So if you're in any discipline on campus, she has what she calls tutors that can help you with the writing for that discipline.

Gardiner Tucker (16:49):
So what your technique is, if you're a student, is you submit your written document through their website, posted there; you list any questions that you want answered about your written piece and the type of feedback you're looking for. And then they'll get back to you within 24 hours with written ... That's very good. With written responses. One faculty member she highlighted was George Junne, who's in the professor of Africana Studies, and he requires that his first-year students use the Writing Center at least twice during the class to help them learn how to write at the college level.

Gardiner Tucker (17:24):
So the first visit they have to submit their abstract, and the second one is their final draft. So it's great support for them, and thanks to George for making that part of his curriculum. And she was telling me one student came in several times for help this semester and then excitedly got back to them and said, "I got a 95 on my paper." So they do a lot of good work. In addition, they have what's called an accountability group, where people who are working on writing projects meet once a week and set goals together to help motivate them to get their writing done, because we all know that procrastination creeps in when you have a large writing project. So that's helpful for that.

Gardiner Tucker (18:04):
So one of the challenges they've faced is that they no longer have social media support so they've ... Melody and Jayne Blodgett, the interim dean of the Libraries, have come up with the collaboration where the library, because they do have the capacity to market on social media, is going to tweet on behalf of the writing center to get the messages out to students. So that's a great collaboration.

Gardiner Tucker (18:26):
Finally I just want to give you a brief glimpse of their website, and here's the writing center website. It says the write place for everyone. Love that. The services are below. So eTutoring, click on that, and you can get a tutoring session with the writing person, and here's the accountability group. And then you schedule your appointment down below. So there you can go to get your help during the rest of the semester, and please use the Writing Center, and good luck during these final times leading up to exam week. Thank you very much. And that concludes my report.

Dan Maxey (19:03):
Thank you, Tuck. Provost Mark Anderson is on the CDHC academic council call this morning so is unable to join us today, but we do have a Human Resources report from HR director Marshall Parks. Marshall?

Marshall Parks (19:17):
Thanks, Dan. Good morning, everyone. Wanted to make everybody aware of some excellent resources available from the Colorado State Employee Assistance Program. They're offering the following webinars in the next couple of weeks. First one is managing stress and anxiety during uncertain times. I dropped in on that one last week, and it was really well done. A new one they've added also is managing the social and emotional impact of the stay at home order. And lastly they added an additional one that we've talked about recently, navigating uncertain financial times. So three really good offerings from the Colorado State Employee Assistance Program. I'll be sending out the details on how to register on UNC today. The seminars are limited to 160 participants, and they have been filling up, so if you're interested, make sure you get registered early, and I'll send that information out and encourage you to take advantage of that really good resource. And that's all I have this morning, Dan. Thank you.

Dan Maxey (20:12):
Great, thank you Marshall. We have no Facilities report today, so I want to thank everyone who's tuned in. I'll turn the floor back over to President Feinstein.

President Feinstein (20:21):
Thanks Dan, and thanks to all of our presenters today, particularly Matt, greatly appreciated. As a reminder, tomorrow morning, nine o'clock is our Board of Trustees meeting, so there will not be a daily operation status report. We'll resume these daily operation status reports on Thursday. So stay safe, be healthy, and we'll see you again here on Thursday morning at 9:00 AM. Take care, everybody.