The Best Online Master's Programs of 2020 - Investopedia

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College Kids Are Freaking Out About Their Infected Campuses - The New York Times

College Kids Are Freaking Out About Their Infected Campuses - The New York Times


College Kids Are Freaking Out About Their Infected Campuses - The New York Times

Posted: 14 Sep 2020 03:26 PM PDT

For Daniel Gardner, 19, a junior at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., the dread and dejection set in before classes even started.

Before resuming in-person instruction this fall, the university had laid out a comprehensive 34-page plan emphasizing the "public health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff."

But when Mr. Gardner returned to campus to help run freshman orientation in late August, he saw students crowded around tables in the dining hall. He saw students stumbling home from off-campus parties. And he saw hundreds of students lounging around inches from each other, many maskless, during an outdoor movie night hosted by the university.

"It was kind of insane," Mr. Gardner said. He remembered thinking, "this is not going to work if we move forward."

Mr. Gardner's musings proved salient. After only a week of in-person classes, this leafy campus in the Shenandoah Valley was overwhelmed with hundreds of coronavirus cases. The university shifted classes online, and gave students living in on-campus housing — many of whom were still settling in — six days to move out.

Students who had tested positive were told to continue isolating on campus; those who feared that they'd been exposed to the virus could petition the school to be allowed to remain longer than six days.

The university announced that this would be a "temporary transition," with classes potentially resuming — and the possibility that students could move back to campus — as early as Oct. 5, if case numbers were low enough.

"We had classes for five days," said Caitlyn Read, a J.M.U. spokeswoman. "In those five days, we saw some things that we need to address. We also saw some overwhelming victories in terms of getting 22,000 students in in-person instruction."

"We planned for six months, but until you really see some of that stuff implemented, it's hard to identify deficiencies," she added.

In interviews, some J.M.U. students described the experience of watching hundreds of students around them test positive for Covid-19 as bizarre, chaotic and paranoia inducing.

The traditional autumnal return to campus — a time of reconnecting with old friends and diving headfirst into classes and activities — had taken on morbid overtones. Students spent their first week tracking campus case numbers, getting tested, reporting peers for partying, nervously getting meals at crowded dining halls and waiting for classes to be shut down.

Their experience is not unique. Thousands of students on campuses that have resumed in-person classes have watched anxiously as coronavirus case numbers have skyrocketed around them. As of Sept. 14, The New York Times counted more than 88,000 cases and 60 deaths at 1,190 campuses nationwide. (Not all of those cases are new, and the increase is partly the result of more schools beginning to report the results of increased coronavirus testing.)

At least eight schools have canceled in-person classes because of virus outbreaks, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; the University of Wisconsin, Madison; and Notre Dame. Others seem to be trying to power through the pandemic. The University of Alabama and the University of Georgia have continued to hold in-person classes despite more than a thousand positive cases of coronavirus at each school.

As case numbers tick up, students at these schools have been airing fears and concerns, and posting photos, videos and frantic questions, on Twitter, TikTok, Instagram and Reddit pages dedicated to their schools. There are also, of course, plenty of morbid jokes.

In a Reddit post on a J.M.U. page from Sept. 1, one person commented: "513 cases, only half of quarantine beds remaining as J.M.U. begins to resemble mid 1300s Europe."

In another post, titled "We all need to work together Dukes!" (a nickname for J.M.U. students), someone wrote: "I know times are hard and classes just started, but 390 cases of Covid is absolutely pathetic. How are we going to let Alabama lead the country with 1,043!? We can catch up to them if we try hard enough, but it is going to take all of us!"

Arianna Mbunwe, 20, a junior at the University of Georgia, which reportedly had 2,600 cases as of Sept. 9, said: "We're just resigned to the fact that we're just going to eventually get it."

"It shouldn't be that way," she added. "But there's almost nothing we can do at this point."

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Credit...Mark Makela/Getty Images

Like many other schools, the J.M.U. administration has placed the onus of responsibility not to spread the virus on students, asking them to sign a pledge that they would not gather in groups larger than 10.

The pledge listed at least nine specific requirements that students must "acknowledge and abide by," including: "I will practice recommended physical distancing between others and myself" and "I will wear a face mask which covers the nose and mouth at all times when indoors in classrooms, labs and other public settings and outdoors when in the presence of others."

The college has urged students not to attend parties, and has threatened those who did with consequences including suspension and expulsion. (The administration is currently investigating 232 pending violations, Ms. Read, the spokeswoman, said.)

Ryan Ritter, 19, a sophomore, summed up official J.M.U. messaging as: "'The semester is in your hands. If the student body does not, you know, party or engage in any activity as dangerous, then we're going to be fine.'"

But the movie night set a different tone. "This was incompetence from the university in dealing with this virus," Mr. Ritter said.

It was the first in a series of four screenings that the university held as part of its official orientation program for freshmen. Mr. Ritter shared with The Times a screen shot of a school listing for the event, which encouraged students to "bring a blanket or towel to sit on" but made no mention of social distancing or masks.

In a photo Mr. Ritter posted on Twitter, groups of students can be seen sitting on the grass in close quarters in front of a large screen, watching the 2019 murder mystery romp "Knives Out."

Mr. Ritter said he stayed for about 30 or 40 minutes, during which, he said, "half the people weren't wearing masks."

"The university left it on our student leaders to police it and go around and tell students, 'Hey, put on your masks,'" he said.

Mr. Ritter said he felt that the movie nights set a precedent, that it made it seem OK for students to gather en masse outdoors.

"Students show up and they see these huge events and they start thinking, 'Well, you know, the university doesn't care. Why should I care? Why should I limit myself to these 10-person interactions?'" he said.

Ms. Read, the J.M.U. spokeswoman, said the movie night was "an attempt to create some sense of normalcy."

"It was hosted outside in a massive field where students had every opportunity to social distance and still enjoy the programming," she added. "Now, if students chose not to socially distance in an outdoor venue where that was possible, that's probably not a great choice, but they absolutely had the option to."

Students at other colleges have flooded social media with photos of outdoor gatherings and of their crowded classrooms and dining halls, expressing outrage at their administrations. On a Reddit page for University of Georgia students, people have posted memes mocking the university's president, Jere Morehead, for keeping the school open even as cases have skyrocketed; others have uploaded footage of packed frat parties, demanding that the administration take action.

Gregory Trevor, a spokesman for the University of Georgia, wrote in an email that while "preventive measures we have taken on campus are working," Covid-19 has spread at off-campus parties and local bars. "Where we have evidence and jurisdiction, we are moving aggressively against violators," he wrote, adding that the university recently suspended a fraternity.

On Twitter, an account calling itself University of Misery compiles student complaints about poor conditions in quarantine dorms at the University of Missouri. (In an email, a spokesman for the university said that the administration had "reviewed our procedures and were able to make some adjustments" in response to the issues raised by the account.)

One video posted on Twitter showed more students in a J.M.U. classroom than there were seats available. Chairs had been taped over to encourage distancing, but the result was that groups of students just sat on the floor.

Gemma Dobbs, 20, a J.M.U. theater major who tweeted about her frustration with the university's haphazard social distancing policies, described the feeling of walking into a crowded music lecture as "apocalyptic."

"They're putting all this pressure on us to not party and, and my friends and I aren't," she said in a phone interview. "And then all of a sudden, I'm in a room with 199 other undergrads, most of whom probably live on campus, and we're sharing our germs with each other."

"No part of it felt safe," she said.

Ms. Read, the spokeswoman, said, "We have seen that content, it is troublesome. Those are the kind of things we're going to address in the four weeks that we go online."

On Aug. 26, the first day of class, the university reported 11 cases on campus. In an Aug. 28 email welcoming students to school, with the subject line "Cautious Optimism," the president, Jonathan Alger, acknowledged "a rise in positive cases among the student body," but said that the numbers would not immediately cause the school to change course.

"Interpreting epidemiologic data is so nuanced and dynamic," he wrote. "In any given day, the number of new positive cases is not a singularly determinant factor in our decision making, even though that is often the focus in media and social media reports."

That day, the school's Covid-19 tracker hit 159 cases, provoking feelings of "impending doom," Mr. Gardner said.

Students began criticizing the email on social media. One person posted a photo on Reddit of a banner hanging from an apartment building with the president's email's subject line "cAuTiOuS OpTiMiSm" — the mixed case capitalization used to indicate mockery — next to an image of Mr. Alger wearing a mask.

On Sept 1, the administration sent out another email, announcing a "temporary transition" to online classes. Students were given until Sept. 7 to clear out of their dorms. Many feared returning home to their parents would potentially spread the virus; the university said it would grant limited exemptions to students who feared infecting their family. Several students who lived off-campus said they did not plan to leave their apartments.

"There's a number of things that are going to have to change between now and October 5," said Ms. Read, referring to the planned reopening date for in-person classes. She acknowledged that there were a "number of isolated incidences that happened outside of the plan that we're going to work to rectify."

"Chiefly, we've got to get these numbers down," she said.

Credit...Gregory Bull/Associated Press

Not all schools with spiking cases of the novel coronavirus have pulled the plug. The University of Kentucky lists 383 active cases as of Sept. 14 on its website dashboard, but the administration is holding firm and continuing to hold in-person classes. "Our strategy is evolving consistent with the operational playbook we began to implement in June," Jay Blanton, a spokesman for the university, wrote in an email.

He said the university is also beginning wastewater testing: Sensors installed in pipes will analyze sewage for signs of the coronavirus, a technique that has been used on other campuses to help detect outbreaks before they happen.

"We began the wastewater testing last week, first examining one of our isolation facilities as a control group," Robert DiPaola, the dean of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, wrote in a Sept. 4 statement provided by a university spokesman. "We have now moved to other residence halls."

The sensors will be activated at times when sewage systems will be experiencing high usage from students, like the mornings.

Colleges and universities are using other tactics to track and contain the virus including tough social-distancing rules (sometimes enforced by R.A.s and other students) and an array of new technologies, including virus tracking apps. (Students who test positive for the virus are being sequestered in isolated dorms, hotels and apartments.)

Students who violate school policies face suspension, and worse; at Northeastern University, a group of 11 students who were found together in a room were expelled, and the school kept their tuition.

But college administrations can't assume control for each individual's every action.

"People won't stop having parties people, won't stop not wearing masks," Ms. Mbunwe, of the University of Georgia, said. "The only thing I can really do is beg and plead with my peers to do the right thing. But even then, it's like, when does our administration step in and decide to actually make real decisions regarding the health of their students?"

Friends in Academic Places: Mathematics and music add up to student success - fortworthbusiness.com

Posted: 14 Sep 2020 09:46 AM PDT

Muzology

www.muzology.com

Muzology, the platform that blends music videos and pre-algebra for middle school students is seeing amazing breakthroughs on a national level. The Fort Worth Business Press was among the first publications to notice this emerging technology two years ago.  

Speaking to the Rotary Club of Downtown Fort Worth via Zoom on Friday, Aug. 28, founder, Lana Israel, and her business partner, Bob Doyle, shared the profound impact that music has on learning.

"We learn our ABCs by singing, so it makes sense that music can be used to teach more complicated subjects, such as math," said Israel, a summa cum laude Harvard graduate and a Rhodes Scholar from the University of Oxford with a Doctorate in Experimental Psychology.

Doyle's background is a little different, but he definitely knows how music motivates listeners – and rabid fans: He discovered and continues to manage one of the true superstars, Garth Brooks, with more than 157 million albums sold.

"Our analytics indicate that children who were previously failing math are frequently earning 100s on math quizzes and experiencing academic success, often for the first time in their lives," said Israel, who knows analytics quite well.

So how did these two people from different worlds meet and create Muzology? Sit down on a bar stool and listen: Following Garth's 14-year hiatus to focus on family, Doyle wanted analytics that would forecast the potential sales for a return to touring. He turned to Israel.

"Her projections for ticket sales were remarkably accurate, down to the percent," said Doyle. "That's when I became a believer in Lana's thought process and ideas."

It wasn't just numbers, he said.

"Lana recognizes not just the tangible elements but also the intangible factors that make big things happen. I respected her work for Garth, so I joined her in launching Muzology," Doyle said.

Their research shows that a massive number of students throughout the United States tend to be terrified of fractions. On the other hand, they enjoy pop music. Students memorize the words to these songs and spend hours watching and dancing along to music videos. That reality led Israel and Doyle to a very logical conclusion.

"If students enthusiastically embrace and memorize the lyrics and dance moves in music videos, they should be able to do the very same thing when singing about the Pythagorean Theorem or fractions," said Israel.  

Muzology employs music videos that teach math skills driven by rhythmic pop music – a style students experience online and on TV.

One teacher in Little Rock described the process as "Schoolhouse Rock, but on steroids."

The lyrics are written first along with a catchy song; Muzology works with the same music producers who create for some of today's hottest artists – that's Doyle's Nashville and music industry connections. The rough draft is then submitted to experienced and credentialed math educators, who either confirm the accuracy of the lyrics or request a re-write.

 "One time a lyricist asked if she could use 'and' instead of 'or' in one of our math songs because it sounded better when sung," said Israel. "We explained that 'or' was the mathematically correct way to present the material. Academic integrity always trumps aesthetic in our songs. Although, our music sounds fantastic, too!"

Among the writers and performers are GRAMMY-winning producer Andy Zulla, hit songwriter Maria Christensen (Waiting for Tonight by J-Lo) and Chris Blue, winner of The Voice.

Here's an example, a Muzology song about fractions:

A fraction's simplified

When you can't divide

The numerator and denominator

By the same number on your calculator.

The National Association of School Boards named Muzology one of its top six most innovative ed-tech programs of the year in 2018 and the National Science Foundation has now awarded Muzology a competitive research grant for the second consecutive year. Muzology recently received grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education and won the Software and Information Industry Association's 2020 Innovation Showcase.

The Muzology concept, which had captured interest from school administrators and teachers across the country this past fall, is now exploding but in a different format than its creators had intended. The growth is pandemic related.

"We had planned for schools and school districts to become our clients, so that's where we invested the bulk of our efforts," said Doyle. They had inked agreements with schools in seven states before COVID-19 reached the United States.

Israel adds, "When the pandemic forced educators to move to online teaching, most schools and teachers were unprepared for the change of venue. Similarly, parents had no idea how to motivate and help their children with schoolwork. Teachers and parents started searching online for solutions, and they found us."

Teachers and parents began visiting the Muzology website and asking for more information. Recognizing the enormous impact that the program could have in supporting student learning during this challenging time, Israel and Doyle agreed to offer Muzology to teachers and parents on a sampling basis at no charge.

"It was definitely the right thing to do," said Israel. "Our nation was desperate for a way to teach complicated math skills and we had a solution. This pandemic moved our strategy from B2B (entire schools and districts) to a B2C (Business-to-Consumer) model."

On any given day over the past months, they have added anywhere from 30 to just under 100 new sign-ups. Whereas the vast majority of these sign-ups were from teachers during school closures last March and April, at the start of this school year there is an increasing number of sign-ups directly from parents.

Muzology now has consumers in 48 states as schools, teachers and parents eagerly embraced a way to overcome the "summer slide" – that three-month stretch when children are not in school.

Only this year, many students have experienced a six or seven-month slide.

As a result, Muzology is helping many students sing their way to more promising futures.

– FWBP Staff

Augustin Hadelich Master Class at Suzuki Music Schools - Patch.com

Posted: 14 Sep 2020 07:35 AM PDT

Neighbors — please be mindful of social distancing guidelines while you do your part to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. See the latest guidance from the CDC here.

This post was contributed by a community member. The views expressed here are the author's own.

Augustin Hadelich Master Class at Suzuki Music Schools

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Suzuki Music Schools begins a year of outstanding events by world-class artists on this Sunday, September 20th with a "Da Capo Master Class" presented by international superstar and Grammy-winner, violinist Augustin Hadelich. This is a free class for SMS students and, for the first time, the public can audit the class online as well for a small donation. View our exciting upcoming events schedule at Suzuki Music Schools

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Black Scholars Confront White Supremacy in Classical Music - The New Yorker

Posted: 14 Sep 2020 03:04 AM PDT

Martin Luther King, Jr., in his book "Stride Toward Freedom," wrote, "On a cool Saturday afternoon in January 1954, I set out to drive from Atlanta, Georgia, to Montgomery, Alabama. . . . The Metropolitan Opera was on the radio with a performance of one of my favorite operas—Donizetti's 'Lucia di Lammermoor.' So with the beauty of the countryside, the inspiration of Donizetti's inimitable music, and the splendor of the skies, the usual monotony that accompanies a relatively long drive—especially when one is alone—was dispelled in pleasant diversions."

What does it mean, if anything, that King was listening to bel-canto opera as he made his historic journey to preach his first sermon at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church? One response would be to find something curious, or even contradictory, in the image of King enjoying Donizetti behind the wheel of his car. He was poised to become a titan in the civil-rights movement; classical music is a world in which Black people have seldom been allowed to play a leading role. Much the same question could be asked about W. E. B. Du Bois, who admired the music of Richard Wagner to such an extent that he attended the Bayreuth Festival, in 1936. Even though Wagner was notoriously racist, Du Bois said, "The musical dramas of Wagner tell of human life as he lived it, and no human being, white or black, can afford not to know them, if he would know life."

Several scholars have conjectured that King was sending a cultural signal when he inserted Donizetti into "Stride Toward Freedom." Jonathan Rieder says that the story demonstrates "King's desire to cast himself as a man of sensibility and distinction." Godfrey Hodgson writes that such references were intended to "reassure northern intellectuals that he was on the same wavelength as they were." Du Bois's cosmopolitan tastes have elicited similar commentary. It is questionable, though, to assume that these two formidable personalities were simply trying to assimilate themselves to a perceived white aesthetic. Rather, they were taking possession of the European inheritance and pulling it into their own sphere. More elementally, they loved the music, and had no need to justify their taste.

It is equally questionable to assume that King's and Du Bois's fondness for classical music lends it some kind of universal, anti-racist virtue. In that sense, my attraction to these anecdotes of fandom is suspect. I am a white American who grew up with the classics, and I am troubled by the presumption that they are stamped with whiteness—and are even aligned with white supremacy, as some scholars have lately argued. I cannot counter that suggestion simply by gesturing toward important Black figures who cherished this same tradition, or by reeling off the names of Black singers and composers. The exceptions remain exceptions. This world is blindingly white, both in its history and its present.

Since nationwide protests over police violence erupted, in May and June, American culture has been engaged in an examination, however nominal, of its relationship with racism. Such an examination is sorely needed in classical music, because of its extreme dependence on a problematic past. The undertaking is complex; the field must acknowledge a history of systemic racism while also honoring the individual experiences of Black composers, musicians, and listeners. Black people have long been marginalized, but they have never been outsiders.

This spring, the journal Music Theory Online published "Music Theory and the White Racial Frame," an article by Philip Ewell, who teaches at Hunter College. It begins with the sentence "Music theory is white," and goes on to argue that the whiteness of the discipline is manifest not only in the lack of diversity in its membership but also in a deep-seated ideology of white supremacy, one that insidiously affects how music is analyzed and taught. The main target of Ewell's critique is the early-twentieth-century Austrian theorist Heinrich Schenker (1868-1935), who parsed musical structures in terms of foreground, middle-ground, and background levels, teasing out the tonal formulas that underpin large-scale movements. Schenker held racist views, particularly with regard to Black people, and according to Ewell those views seeped into the seemingly abstract principles of his theoretical work.

Schenker was Jewish, but his adherence to doctrines of Germanic superiority blinkered him to such an extent that, in 1933, he praised Hitler, adding, "If only a man were born to music, who would finally exterminate the musical Marxists." Schenker's advocates have long been aware of his disturbing views but have insisted that his bigoted rhetoric has nothing to do with his theoretical writing. Ewell argued that Schenker's system is, in fact, founded on national and racial hierarchies. Reverence for the kind of supreme talent who can assemble monumental musical structures shades into biological definitions of genius, and the biology of genius spills over into the biology of race. Ewell concluded, "There can be no question that for Schenker, the concept of 'genius' was associated with whiteness to some degree."

Shortly after Ewell's article was published, a skirmish broke out in the music-theory community, incited not by the article itself but by a twenty-minute condensed version of the material that Ewell had presented at a conference seven months earlier. The Journal of Schenkerian Studies, which is based at the University of North Texas, chose to devote ninety pages to responses to that brief talk. Some were supportive, others dismissive; one accused Ewell, who is African-American, of exhibiting "Black anti-Semitism," even though Ewell had not mentioned Schenker's Jewishness. On social media, Ewell's colleagues came to his defense and questioned the journal's methodology. The historian Kira Thurman wrote, "Did the Journal of Schenkerian Studies really publish a response to Professor Ewell's scholarship that was 'anonymous'? Yes." National Review and Fox News somehow stumbled on the episode and cast it as so-called cancel culture run amok; it was claimed that Ewell was trying to ban Beethoven, although nothing of the sort had been suggested.

At first glance, the Schenker debate looks to be of limited relevance to the wider classical-music world, not to mention the general population. Although his theories have been taught in American universities for generations, they are by no means universally accepted. German-speaking musicologists, for example, have never taken him as seriously. Even in the U.S., conservatory students can often undergo a thorough training without encountering his work. Yet the case of Schenker illustrates an implicit prejudice that is endemic in the teaching, playing, and interpretation of classical music. His method is far from unique in elevating the European tradition while concealing its cultural bias behind eternal, abstract principles. What Ewell calls "the white racial frame"—he takes the term from the sociologist Joe Feagin—has the special power of being invisible. Thurman, in her paper "Performing Lieder, Hearing Race," makes a similar point: "Classical music, like whiteness itself, is frequently racially unmarked and presented as universal—until people of color start performing it."

The hysterical complaints that Ewell was proposing to "cancel" the classical canon stemmed mainly from a blog post in which he called Beethoven an "above-average composer" who has been "propped up by the white-male frame, both consciously and subconsciously, with descriptors such as genius, master, and masterwork." This is a provocation, though it is hardly the first to have been lobbed at the great man: Debussy wrote that Beethoven's sonatas were badly written for the piano, and Ned Rorem memorably dinged the Ninth Symphony as "the first piece of junk in the grand style." Ewell provokes with a higher purpose: he is goading a classical culture that awards the vast majority of performances to a tight circle of superstars, shutting out female and nonwhite composers who, until the mid-twentieth century, had little chance of making a career. In some ways, that Valhalla mentality is as entrenched as ever.

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