1. College instructors: Now that we are back to teaching in person again, have you thought about how the design of your course encourages or discourages students from making prudent decisions with regard to COVID risk?

I've adapted my upcoming 180-student course in a few ways.
2. In previous in-person lecture courses, I've tried to incorporate plentiful opportunities for active learning, discussion, and interactive exercises. This keeps students involved and thinking throughout the lecture, while encouraging attendance.
3. Up through 2019, that was almost without exception a great thing. But this fall, we're teaching during the Delta wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Encouraging attendance at all cost is not something we necessarily want to be doing.
4. In particular, I want to make sure of two things.

a) First, that my students never feel that they have to come to class despite feeling ill, lest they miss an opportunity to earn points or engage in activities that cannot be made up asynchronously....
5. ...and

b) Second, that my students do not feel pressured to attend in person despite feeling unsafe in the classroom either due to their own medical circumstance or due to those of others with whom they live, for whom they are caring, etc.
6. This requires some changes.

For starters, I will be dropping all opportunities to earn in class-only points this year. No student will ever have to choose between staying safe—or keeping others safe—and earning a higher grade.
7. I will ensure that all lectures are video recorded and fully available online for asynchronous viewing, and I will stress to the students that the choice of in-person attendance or online viewing is theirs and theirs alone.
8. I will take pains to normalize online viewing. For example, when asking students to talk with neighbors about an example I’ve presented in class, I will say something like “If you’re watching from home, try searching on Google to figure out what is wrong with this argument.”
9. To make up in part for the in-class interactions that students will miss if not in the lecture hall, I will add a discussion board and ask students watching from home to contribute there, responding to my comments or those of the students.
10. And then there is the issue of exams. As I see it, I simply can't give in-person exams this quarter. The pressure to attend despite feeling ill or unsafe is too high.

Instead I will be giving online exams as I have done throughout the pandemic thus far.
11. This requires that I write thoughtful open-book, open-internet questions that test for high-level mastery of the material.

That awful Proctorio-style spyware is absolutely out of the question. Almost a year ago I wrote a long thread about that here:
12. I recognize that this all is a compromise of sorts, and I look forward to teaching under more normal circumstances. Until then, I am convinced that our actions as instructors will contribute to the trajectory of the pandemic on our campuses.
13. By adapting our courses, we can reduce COVID transmission—and we can make our students feel safer and better accommodated. I urge you to consider how you might do this so your students do not feel pressured to make unwise choices regarding in-person attendance.

Thank you.
Addendum: I seem to have left some confusion over where I consider a compromise and what I consider an advance.

I consider it a compromise to reduce the emphasis on successful active learning practices.
I consider it an advance to move beyond mindless proctored testing of memorization (and test-based assessment in general), and toward creative opportunities for students to engage deeply with material and demonstrate mastery through active learning.

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More from @CT_Bergstrom

6 Sep
"Scientists and public health officials have divergent views on when and how it ends."

Ah, this should be interesting....

washingtonpost.com/politics/covid…
But instead @mffisher uncritically repeats the long disproven canard the viruses evolve toward reduced virulence.
Then, alluding to "the nation's most prominent epidemiologist and public health experts," he turns to Jay Bhattacharya.

If prominence is defined in terms of advising Ron DeSantis, I suppose this is an accurate description.
Read 9 tweets
29 Aug
1. A thread: We've posted a paper on COVID testing in a partially vaccinated population to the medRxiv.

First, a disclosure: I was paid as a consultant for this work, done in collaboration with @Color Health, which provides COVID testing services and vaccination logistics.
2. Last spring my colleagues and I (@RS_McGee at @UW and @jrhomburger, @hewillia34, and @ay_zhou at @Color) wanted to understand how soon, as more people became vaccinated, we could terminate proactive testing programs in schools and workplaces.
3. At the time, we anticipated that many workplaces would go through a relatively quick transition from having only a small fraction of the population vaccinated, to having enough people vaccinated to prevent sizable outbreaks.
Read 13 tweets
29 Aug
So I'm on CNN, tackling misinformation that *really* matters: corvid misinformation.

cnn.com/2021/08/29/hea…
Left: baby rail. Right: baby crow.

I did not take either of these photos.

More about rails and crows from @corvidresearch:
corvidresearch.blog/2015/09/03/bab…
Finally, I apologize for bursting anyone's bubble about baby rails, so here is some high-quality baby crow content. 🧵

Read 5 tweets
27 Aug
This afternoon I spent several hours reading a paper on the medRxiv and working through its results.

I then posted a thread about it on the medRxiv—only to get chastised by a number of people incensed that I'd post about a paper that *hadn't been peer reviewed*.
This is interesting, because what exactly do you think I was doing all afternoon?

Surely I qualify as a peer; this paper is precisely in my area of specialty (medrxiv.org/content/10.110…) and is closely related to one that I have in press at PNAS (medrxiv.org/content/10.110…).
I'm not particularly known for holding back if I don't agree with a paper's methods or conclusions—just ask the folks at @IHME_UW.

So if I write a thread about a paper that is largely supportive, that's a peer review, and a positive one at that.
Read 5 tweets
27 Aug
There's a fascinating new modeling paper out on the @medrxivpreprint that looks at the benefits of proactive testing in schools, using contact networks based upon empirical studies of pre-pandemic interactions among school children. medrxiv.org/content/10.110…
Compared to symptomatic testing and subsequent class- or grade-wide quarantine, weekly proactive testing without quarantine reduces the number of cases and massively reduces the number of missed days of school, all to the benefit of children.
This figure highlights the results. The circles at left indicate outcomes from proactive testing with different levels of compliance (10%,50%,75%); the triangles at right indicate symptomatic testing only plus classroom-level (turquoise) or grade-level (blue) quarantining.
Read 5 tweets
17 Aug
1. There has been lots of talk about recent data from Israel that seem to suggest a decline in vaccine efficacy against severe disease due to Delta, waning protection, or both.

This may have even been a motivation for Biden's announcement that the US would be adopting boosters.
2. While I 've not spent enough time with the raw data to be willing to make absolute claims, I suspect this apparent decline may be an artifact; I think we can explain why; and I think this needs to be looked at seriously.

@jsm2334 laid out the argument: covid-datascience.com/post/israeli-d…
3. Thanks also to @dylanhmorris who brought it to my attention, and @jbakcoleman and @BillHanage for discussion.

The basic story is this: Looking at active severe cases in Israel we have 16.4/100K among unvaxxed and 5.3/100K among vaxxed. That looks like a mere 67.5% VE. But…
Read 10 tweets

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