Transition to online classes (Additional Blog Post #1)

Well we live in interesting times, don’t we? The coronavirus crisis has converted Virginia Tech and schools across the country into Zoom University. Classes have had to transition to online to keep with social distancing. Although it is only the first week, it would be nice to talk about how it has gone for me in the first couple of days.

I teach public speaking, and it has been interesting transitioning the class online. I feel that it has actually added on a bit more work because we have to set up zoom meeting and make sure everything from a technological perspective is working. We have to create assignments on Canvas to submit pretty much anything. We have zoom meetings as a team to prepare for those classes.

That’s not to say we did not do all of those things when we met in person. It just makes you appreciate the things we take for granted. Our discussion in class about that work/life balance is also been jumbled in the middle of all of this. We’ve had to at times throw that out the window due to this pandemic.

Biggest take-way from all of this: don’t take what we have for granted.

Future of the University Blog Post

Virginia Tech has done a lot for me in terms of being able to pursue higher education. I am incredible lucky to be able to receive a scholarship to have school paid for in addition to getting a stipend for my assistantship. I have great faculty who encourage the grad student to pursue research interests that we like. From a personal perspective, I could not be happier about my higher education experience.

However, there are some changes that the university needs to make in regards to higher education. To begin with, make it more accessible and affordable to everyone. There is no reason that if a student wants to pursue a masters degree they shouldn’t be able to at a well reputable school like Virginia Tech. We need to provide an opportunity for more grants and scholarships that can bring students here.

We also may need to prepare long-term for the effects of the coronavirus crisis. The university should be prepared to assist its graduate students in this effort. How do we ensure the students we TA for are getting an equitable learning experience? How do we make sure our technology is up to speed to handle this crisis? How do we allow for research opportunities to continue moving forward?

It will be interesting to see how Virginia Tech handles the future. After all our old motto was “Invent the Future.”





Technology and Innovation in Higher Education Blog Post

For this week’s blog post I looked at a relatively recent article published by University World News titled “MOOCs fail in their mission to disrupt higher education.”

The acronym MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Courses. The authors highlight how the goal of these programs was to allow for more access and initially it did. From 2012-18 there were 12.7 million course registrations from over 5.6 million students.

However, the challenges that were found in the study demonstrate the drawbacks that I believe this approach can have. To begin with, will students still be interested after the initial buzz? The study found that 2nd year return rates fell at substantial margins every year. Another thing to consider is will students actually learn? Often times it is hard enough already to learn in a big lecture setting. Doing that online when the student has to stare at a screen for 3 hours which is often the length for graduate classes is even tougher.

Finally, are we making MOOCs available to everyone? Or just to the select few that can pay for it? The article mentions this topic as well. What if people do not have access to wifi and/or are unable to afford paying for an online program? How will they be able to partake in something people consider a necessity like online education?

These are questions we are experiencing now at Virginia Tech transitioning to Zoom. Will it work? Will all students be able to receive this education fairly? Only time will tell if MOOCs and other forms of online education will be successful in the long run.






Open Access Blog Post

As a communication graduate student, I chose to look at the International Journalism of Communication. The goal of the journal is to provide a reputable platform for communication work all over the globe. It was created in 2007 and its editor-in-chief Larry Gross is located at the USC (Southern California) Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

According to its website, IJAC does not charge for either processing or submission of articles. They hope by establishing a credible journal they will start a movement to create more open-access journals in particular for sub-fields in communication. I believe this statement is great news for liberal arts fields such as communication that might have a stigma of not having relevant research compared to STEM fields.

We have to have opportunities such as IJAC that can provide communication scholars with a forum to publish their work. Also, we have to continue to make research available to the public. Especially if it is something that could benefit them, why would we not make it public to show to them. Open access should be the route moving forward in the higher education and research fields.


Ethics Blog Post

The case study that I looked at was in regards to Shiladitya Sen at Ohio State University. To summarize, as a graduate student Sen was found guilty of research misconduct in which he falsified data in regards to his PHD thesis and his poster presentation as well as grant applications. As a result of the finding he agreed to not work in the federal government and to not serve in any PHS advising capacity.

I am certain that this instance happens more than we would like to admit in research. That is why I have always wondered how much can trust can we put in someone’s research. It is not that I am a pessimistic person, but doesn’t the researcher have the ability to “manipulate” the data to be what they want? They might not be as covert about it, but maybe if they’re studying a sample and changing a small aspect of the study they might get closer to a result they were hoping would come out of the study. I have always wondered how often that happens in research.

I’ve also question the process through which people and certain projects obtain grants to conduct their research. Let’s say an influential organization decides to donate a good amount of money for a research project to happen. Wouldn’t the researcher be beholden to the organization giving them the money to follow along any potential guidelines they may have? Just like conflict of interests and big donors can have an enormous influence in other fields such as politics, I have always felt that these institutions that provide big grants can have a similar impact as well.

I choose to be an optimist in that I believe for the most part researchers are doing their job ethically. I just believe that we have to be as transparent as possible once we publish our findings and be accountable to the type of research we conduct. Only then can we truly ensure that our work is serving our fields and the overall public in their best interest.

Mission Statements

“The mission of the Clemson University Graduate School is to provide a transformative education that generates intellectual, economic and social capital for the benefit of all.”

The main thing that sticks out to me about Clemson’s graduate statement is their underlying message about equality. When they mention “of all”, it is my opinion that they are trying to highlight diversity and accessibility for all kinds of people. Graduate school can not only be a time commitment but a financial commitment, and Clemson at least is wants to emphasize that in their statement.

Also, I believe it is important that the research we do should be applicable to the real world, and Clemson also seems to be highlighting that in their statement. Not only should it enhance our understanding academically, but how can it help benefit society especially in regards to an economic perspective. Given that Clemson is a research 1 institution, they are appear to be marketing the applicability of their program to the real world on top of their academics.

Mission Statement “The mission of the Graduate School is to serve as a catalyst for excellence in graduate education at NC State by promoting the highest-quality education for students and postdoctoral scholars, including outstanding academic experiences, opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research, and professional development that prepares students and postdocs for success in their fields;  advancing the diversity of graduate education at NC State and of the professoriate nationwide through recruitment, retention, and support of underrepresented minority groups; fostering an environment in which graduate faculty can reach their potential as teachers, researchers, and mentors to graduate students;  encouraging research and graduate programs that address the critical issues that challenge our state, our nation, and our world; achieving recognition of NC State as a model for leadership and innovation in graduate education in North America.”

NC State’s mission statement seems to be similar to Clemson in balancing between the academic benefits of going through their graduate program as well as the practical benefits. In their statement, they mention scholars while also referencing the importance of the graduate faculty and their relationship to the students. It is safe to say that a fair amount of individuals attend graduate school at the masters level with the intention of going on to a PHD, and NC State makes sure in their statement to assure potential candidates that they are getting a well-rounded experience.

The key theme to take away from both mission statements is that these universities are trying to make their education more applicable outside academia. After 4 years of undergrad, I think there’s a number of people who do not want to go to school again instead of obtaining a full-time job unless they believe it can enhance their skills when seeking a job. Especially in the communication grad program that I am a part of, it is designed mostly for people who want to pursue a PHD. If programs are able to make their graduate studies more applicable, then I believe we will see an increase in the pursuit of higher studies. That is why I am a fan of my program because we do get practical experience as a GTA for public speaking where we teach and run the class solo. Mission statements are key to changing this narrative as they summarize the goals of their respective programs, and I believe all programs should adopt in some capacity what Clemson and NC State have decided to do with their statements.