Online Participation and Higher Education

The higher education system has been changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic with respect to traditional face-to-face classes to online classes. While this trend helped students and universities to continue the process of learning, we should consider the challenges of distance learning. Here, I will discuss one of the main challenges of online classes.

There are a few challenges for participating in an online class, such as providing the computer, and stable internet, but one of the most important problems of online participating would be focusing on materials and content during the class. It seems difficult to pay attention and have one hundred percent focus on materials once working with your computer because there are some distracting items. For example, students might participate in an online class from their home or office where there might not be a quiet place at the time of class.

Another point for the lack of concentration during the online classes is that students prefer to turn off the camera. Participating in a class by using voice might lead to additional distracting items, such as talking with family members, and roommates. The reason behind this way of communicating might be privacy preservation. For example, students might be concerned about the living area or abusing their pictures.

However, there might be some people who believe that lack of concentration during online classes is not a big deal because these days students would be able to review the online materials whenever they want many times. But, students would lose the chance to ask questions and get feedback according to their understanding of the materials during the class. As a result, lack of concentration might lead to low quality of education.

To sum up, while participating in online classes would be a great policy to save the academic atmosphere during crises, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, universities should find some strategies to solve issues, such as the lack of concentration during online classes, to improve the quality of education.

Future of the University

Many things can be changed to improve the quality of higher education, from the process of getting admission to hiring faculty members. But, here, I will discuss the importance of reducing costs for doing a graduate degree.

I believe universities should take steps for making graduate programs more affordable. It is important because many talented students tend to go further in their field of study, but the tuition, fees, and general costs are a serious problem and make them reluctant to continue their education. Apart from that many current graduate students spend too much time and energy to pave the way for their funding opportunities. This trend might have a negative impact on their performance, especially for doing research and article. For example, assume that a Ph.D. candidate should not only pass 18 credits during a semester but also work as a Teaching Assistant for 20 hours per week. So, it sounds challenging for these candidates to allocate enough time to work on their research interests simultaneously.

There are some policies that might work for universities to reduce the costs of education. One of the important policies is to create a variety of optional opportunities for students. To elaborate more, students have to pay for many cases without taking advantage of those options. For example, at Virginia Tech graduate students have to pay a comprehensive fee for using facilities and services like the sports complex. However, many graduate students do not have enough time to use these services regularly.

All in all, I believe there are many points that universities should work on them to increase the quality of higher education. However, if providing more funding opportunities and reducing the costs of education were at the top level of the decision-making process, the higher education system would be improved in a shorter period.

Technology and Innovation in Higher Education

The following paper “Social media in higher education: A literature review of Facebook” was conducted by Ritesh Chugh and Umar Ruhi in 2017. In this paper, they have worked on the impacts of Facebook on higher education. Authors believe that because students and staff use social media technology in day-to-day work and tasks, it is important to find out what the impacts of social medial would be on the education system. They seek to summarize the positive and negative effects of Facebook on higher education.

On the one hand, researchers believe that the benefits of Facebook can be considered as an educational tool for learning and teaching. For example, The use of Facebook was explored in a Turkish study of prospective teachers, which found that using Facebook in language teacher education can offer benefits to both teachers and students, such as increased teacher-student and student-student interaction. The students in the study found Facebook to be an effective educational tool in their learning contexts, helping them in communication, collaboration, and resource sharing and developing their ability to use online technologies in learning environments. Facebook can be used to promote metacognitive awareness, especially reflective practice in English language teacher education.

On the other hand, scholars believe that there are problems and limitations to using Facebook as an educational tool. For example, some of its challenges include “educators’ dominance, inactive behavior, lack of academic language usage, technological and privacy concerns, and discrimination. This section examines the relevant literature that reports the problems and limitations of Facebook usage in an educational environment”. For example, Bhati (2015) believes that the use of this social media for learning purposes might be marred by unreliable and slow Internet connection, and lead to distraction during the class.

All in all, I am of the opinion that while there might be a few negative points regarding using social media in higher education, the advantages of using social media or technology in higher education outweigh its disadvantages. Covid-19 pandemic is a clear-cut example of this trend; faculties and students would be able to stay in touch by social medial and new technology, especially in higher education.

An Open Access Journal in Urban and Transportation Planning

There are many journals in the scope of Urban and Transportation Planning, but, here, I will provide some information about the following journal “Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives. This is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal from the United Kingdom, and it has been published by Elsevier Ltd company. All articles published open access will be immediately and permanently free for everyone to read, download, copy and distribute.

   As for scopes and aims, this journal accepts articles in a wide range of topics, From Policy and Practice to Traffic Psychology. It is an interdisciplinary journal concerned with any social science aspects of transportation. This journal will accept any articles regarding quality research on transportation, research articles, case studies, research notes, tutorials, and opinion pieces. Articles are relevant to both academics and practitioners and are the results of anonymous reviews by at least two referees chosen by the editor for their specialist knowledge. 

   Regarding the Journal policy for explaining open access, there is no charge for a subscription. However, a fee is payable by the author or research funder to cover the costs associated with publication. Its charge is around USD 1100 for publishing.

Ethics Blog Post

As for the Ethic blog post, I chose Yin, Viravuth case. According to a report that was conducted by Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory (MDIBL) and Office of Research Integrity (ORI), Viravuth Yin, Ph.D. (Respondent), former Associate Professor, MDIBL, engaged in research misconduct supported by U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) funds, specifically National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), National Institutes of Health (NIH). It is reported that respondents participated in research misconduct deliberately and intentionally; They not only fabricated data but also published papers in journals. For example, they published an article entitled “Dynamic microRNA-101a and Fosab expression control zebrafish heart regeneration” in the journal of Development in 2015. Another prime example for their research misconduct is reporting research methods and statistics that were not performed in the following experimental results: PCR data in the graph represented in Figure 2B of PNAS 2018 draft, iScience 2018 draft, and iScience 2019, by representing the data from two (2) remote PCR experiments as being from the same experiment.

    In my view, academic dishonesty and engaging in research misconduct by faculty members, and  students might have adverse knock-on effects on society and different consequences. To elaborate more, the moral consequences of academic dishonesty are devaluating hard work and fairness. For example, assume that a research group works for many years to find out the result for a study, but another group by fabricating and falsifying data not only publish many articles but also get funding opportunity to continue their new projects. As a result, in the long run, this attitude can be harmful to both hardworking people and society because hardworking people might be disappointed to go the right way and society might be affected by the wrong action and policy.  

  As For the mentioned case, Yin, Viravuth, it sounds this person had enough experience to avoid researching that way because it is mentioned that he/she was a former Associate Professor. So, I believe universities and institutions should take appropriate strategies to realize academic dishonesty as much as possible. For example, according to each research group and its purpose, they should be monitored by a committee including experts in the same scope.

All in All, I am of the opinion that academic dishonesty should be considered by all universities as a problem that might have negative impacts on society, and universities should seek to find new ways of preventing this trend.

Mission statements from 2 different institutions of higher education institutions (university, college, etc.)

    The mission statement plays a key role to show and describe the aims of universities in the long run. The vision, mission, and values statements would shed light on all activities that will be done in an organization. It means that mission statements explain what universities want to be in the future. Here, I will explain two mission statements from the University of Calgary, and the University of Alberta, and what aspects of their mission statements are distinguished for me.

– The mission and vision statements of the University of Calgary

“We create a campus environment that inspires research, learning, and community enriches the student experience, and advances sustainability”.

“We will be recognized for building a culture of mutual respect and trust that enables us to have a positive impact on each other, our university, and the greater community”. 


      The University of Calgary is a public research university located in Alberta, Canada. What stands out about the mission statement is emphasizing not only social values but also sustainability. They focus on respecting and the value of each individual because in this way all would feel free to show their ability and take steps forward. To elaborate more, having mutual respect and trust might be the key to collaborate in society. It means that working together and spending time to understand each other’s roles in a community would be a great strategy to play in the common ground to achieve specific goals. Accordingly, it can be said that Calgary’s statement has more concentration on social dimensions of development.

 – The mission and vision statements of the University of Alberta

“To inspire the human spirit through outstanding achievements in learning, discovery, and citizenship in a creative community, building one of the world’s great universities for the public good”.

“Within a vibrant and supportive learning environment, the University of Alberta discovers, disseminates, and applies new knowledge for the benefit of society through teaching and learning, research and creative activity, community involvement, and partnerships. The University of Alberta gives a national and international voice to innovation in our province, taking a lead role in placing Canada at the global forefront”.


    The University of Alabama is a public research university in Tuscaloosa, Canada. Regarding the mission and vision statements, what impressed me is focusing on inspiring the human spirit. They believe by creating a collaborative environment in the university, all students have the opportunity to follow their dreams and be innovative. As a result, this trend would build a unique community that can reflect its value on a local and international scale. Thus, it might be said that the mission and vision statements of the University of Alabama have focused on the source of inspiration and motivation on a local scale to show the society’s value on a global scale in the future. 

   To sum up, while promoting the social dimension of sustainable development might be the most important aspect of the mission statement of University of Calgary, creating a source of inspiration and motivation environment in University of Alabama might be the most important mission. However, both Universities will concentrate on learning and discovery to create a better future.