KAIST has been reaching out to local middle and high schools to facilitate their shift to an online curriculum. On March 31, the Ministry of Education announced the plan for opening elementary, middle, and high schools online in April. As schools are scrambling to launch remote learning programs amid increasing concerns from educators and students unaccustomed to online education, KAIST has been offering assistance, based on its own experience, for the local schools’ smooth transition to virtual classes. Since March 16, KAIST has been running over 1,200 spring semester courses online through KLMS and various online conferencing platforms, such as Zoom and Youtube Live.
On April 3, Youngsun Kwon, the Dean of KAIST Academy, and Mina Jo, a staff member of the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, delivered a two-hour live tutorial on using Zoom for two-way interactive online teaching for teachers from 38 middle and high schools in the Yuseong District of Daejeon. Dean Kwon informed teachers on how to use major Zoom functions, respond to unexpected situations, check attendance, and organize quizzes or assignments. He answered some frequently asked questions and relayed tips on preparing and conducting effective online lectures. A total of 102 teachers attended the session.
The tutorial has been recorded and uploaded to the KAIST Massive Open Online Course (KOOC) website for other teachers under the course title “Online Education Assistance for Middle and High Schools in Yuseong, Daejeon”. Instructions on creating recorded video lectures with PowerPoint slideshows have additionally been provided. Tips on taking full advantage of live video conferencing platforms were shared, from guidance on security issues to disabling private chatting functions on Zoom to prevent distractions. Educators with other questions can request help through the Q&A board.
Additionally, the school has recruited about 40 student teaching assistants to support local schools in arranging and running online courses. This “Online Assistance Group” consists of undergraduate and graduate students well-acquainted with real-time virtual education. One or two students have been assigned to each of the 38 middle or high schools upon request. From April 7 to 29, they will guide teachers in developing interactive online lessons and resolving problems that arise as the course progresses. The expenses for the students’ activities are fully covered by KAIST.
“It was just implementing a small thing we can and should do, and we hope that it would be helpful in many ways,” said Hayong Shin, the Head of the Undergraduate Admissions Team. KAIST President Sung-Chul Shin said that “as the schools began online semesters due to the prolonged COVID-19 crisis, it is imperative for unprepared educational institutions and educators to quickly learn and adapt to this new method of teaching” and emphasized that “KAIST will continue to assist local schools in quickly resolving inconveniences and providing stable and quality education.”
KAIST is the first university in Korea to reach out to local middle and high schools to instruct and assist adoption of online education. Many hope that KAIST will serve as an exemplary case for other universities to join this community outreach.