From the “Comfort” of Home: Creativity, Compassion, Flexibility, and Educational Innovation in the Time of COVID-19

COVID-19 is accelerating many trends

Our world relies on technology

Starting with the big picture: how did we get here?

The Big Picture

Maybe not that big, but still thinking Global

Technology powered progress and development

However far modern science and techniques have fallen short of their inherent possibilities, they have taught mankind at least one lesson; nothing is impossible. - Lewis Mumford
I sought and stored and stole the fount of flame, whence men all arts have learned, a potent help. -Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound


Impact of COVID-19

Health and human tragedy

Online everything for everyone

Unexpected shortages

Powered by silicon

and global telecommunication networks

Beginnings of Specialization

Craft and artisanal production

Romanticized / idealized image of abundance

Servitude, starvation, short life spans

Introduction of assembly lines

Rising pollution and poor worker conditions

“Rattle me out of bed early, set me going, give me as short a time as you like to bolt my meals in, and keep me at it. Keep me always at it, and I’ll keep you always at it, you keep somebody else always at it. There you are with the Whole Duty of Man in a commercial country.” - Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit

"Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species -- man -- acquired significant power to alter the nature of the world." - Rachel Carson

“The rich people not only had all the money, they had all the chance to get more; they had all the knowledge and the power, and so the poor man was down, and he had to stay down.” - Upton Sinclaire, The Jungle

"It is a scientific fact that the occasional contemplation of natural scenes of an impressive character, particularly if this contemplation occurs in connection with relief from ordinary cares, change of air and change of habits, is favorable to the health and vigor of men and especially to the health and vigor of their intellect beyond any other conditions which can be offered them, that it not only gives pleasure for the time being but increases the subsequent capacity for happiness and the means of securing happiness." -Frederick Law Olmstead

“Nothing should be made by man's labour which is not worth making, or which must be made by labour degrading to the makers.” -William Morris

“Have nothing in your house you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” - William Morris

Increasing specialization and scale

8-14 million tons of plastic enter the ocean each year

Introduction of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics

COVID-19 is increasing use and adoption of self pay systems, accelerating trends that were already underway.

Computer automation and AI are moving up the ladder into highly specialized fields like Radiology

We have moved from a world of local economies, craftspeople, and merchants

to a world of mass production, global supply chains

and continuously networked and connected people and devices.

The pandemic shows how interconnected and dependent we are globally

The University of Bologna c. 1350

The University of New Mexico, 2020

Can we provide College Education for Everyone?

How do we serve the rising billions?

And all students in our state?

Focus on what makes us human

UNM Learn Growth

Kaltura (streaming Video)

UNM Fall 2020 statistics to date

  • Plays: 755,359
  • Played Entries: 38,090
  • Unique Viewers: 20,236
  • Minutes Viewed: 7,917,437
  • Unique Contributors: 5,581
  • Added Entries: 52,405
  • Added Minutes: 1,339,440.9
  • 23,000 minutes closed captioned

186 Years

Zoom meetings at UNM since August

  • Licensed users: 8,882
  • Active users (meeting hosts): 9,003
  • New active users: 3,523
  • Meetings: 214,569
  • Meeting minutes: 97,693,407
  • Meeting participants: 1,745,297
  • Webinars: 265
  • Webinar participants: 19,749


“Is there any way you could provide those of us students with no way to accomplish our online courses with a laptop or tablet, either by donation, for loan, or at a discounted price? I am really struggling.” —NM Community College Student
  • 250 laptops purchased and repurposed to create a long-term laptop checkout program.
  • Many departments and branches also supported their own check out programs

Internet Hotspots

“[My] program is entirely online this semester which if fine except I live out in the country so no reliable internet service AND my daughter is online schooling also. Is there any kind of booster or extender the school offers so I can fully participate in my classes?” —NM Research University Student
  • 50 checked out to Pell Eligible students
  • $40,000 financial aid awarded for connectivity
COVID response has involved digital transformation and a holistic assessment of student needs and the responsibility of the university in a community for everything from education and research to workforce development

Student Support

  • Scaling systems
  • Licensing software
  • Transforming computer labs
  • Checking out laptops
  • Supporting connectivity (parking lot access, hotspot checkouts, scholarships)
  • Supporting students (COVID-safe services, transitioning university offices online, student needs assessments)
  • Mental and social support

Faculty Support

  • Instructional Design
  • Technical Assistance
  • Online resource guides
  • Technology provisioning
  • Student Faculty Facilitation Network
  • Accessibility tools
  • Remote participant tools for 150 classrooms
“I could not imagine how much time and effort you have put into these well organized sessions and how much work you are doing now (e.g., responding to faculty’s emails, leading zoom meetings, etc). I am very grateful you have put together such informative and practical workshops with so many good models for us to use in our own classes. As I wrote previously, I really appreciate your including both research studies (e.g., literature review) discussing evidence-based online strategies as well as articles presenting specific teaching methods.” —Instructor, Department of Special Education

Workforce Support

  • Small Business Development
  • COVID assistance workshops
  • Employee training

K-12 partnerships

  • Instructor support
  • Virtual student teachers
  • Online mentors and facilitators
  • Student tutoring
  • K-12 student development (hack-a-thons, media workshops)

Everyone will be happy when public gatherings are safe again.

But what will "Normal" look like?

  • We have learned some things worth keeping
  • We have grown accustomed to some conveniences
  • Businesses have changed a lot
  • Automation and Remote work are part of our future
  • Shift to online commerce may not go back

Flipping the Classroom

Classrooms are collaborative Spaces

Rethinking Computing Spaces

  • Focus on collaboration
  • Enabled by universal device access

Retaining Students

  • Analytics
  • Targeted assistance
  • Improved communication and issue tracking

Digital badging and stackable credentials

How has our COVID experience informed or affected experiments with scale such as Massively Open Online Courses?

Textbook Affordability

It starts with partnership and is about more than software

UNM has always been an adobe creative campus

Land of Enchantment

New Mexico has long been home to artists of all kinds, creatives, dreamers, healers, scientists and inventors. Multiple traditions of art and storytelling weave their way through landscape and memory and fuse with emerging technologies and scientific breakthroughs to create the culture, creative works, innovation, and possibilities for a diverse future. It is a legacy that originates with the land, the light, and the diverse peoples that make this the Land of Enchantment. From artistic and cultural creativity to technical innovations, the lasting impacts of New Mexico’s contributions are impossible to completely enumerate. These ingredients that make New Mexico unique are also inspiring a new generation of leaders, creators, innovators, artists, dancers, musicians, writers, scientists, and scholars.

Media is a part of a narrative

Modern storytelling is produced and consumed across a variety of mediums and formats

Media and social networks have inverted the broadcast paradigm

The old model

A central authority creates and distributes media for the public to consume.

In the new model

Everyone has the power to create and share their story

Democratizing production

Personal computers have replaced impossibly expensive production studios

Pocket studios

Just as media consumption and personal computing are increasingly mobile, so are the tools for creating and publishing

Communication in the age of distributed mass media

Text, raw data, graphs, still matter...

...As do these tools

...But in a world of short attention spans and access to unlimited data, media, distribution and context are critical

We are all creative

Creative, adj. (from Oxford English Dictionary)

  1. Having the quality of creating, able to create; of or relating to creation; originative.
  2. Inventive, imaginative; of, relating to, displaying, using, or involving imagination or original ideas as well as routine skill or intellect, esp. in literature or art.
But, I'm not artistic!

Digital Literacy is a skill

  • Skills can be learned.
  • Skills require study and practice.
  • Learning by making, doing.
  • You don't have to be Scorsese or Picasso.

Creativity in all of its forms is the currency of the new economy

Information and Digital Literacy is now one of UNM's Essential Skills for General Education

Courses that include the skill of information and digital literacy should begin to prepare students for upper division college courses, the workplace, and civic life.

Geography: "The final project in this class will involve map creation and distribution. Students will be asked to use Adobe Creative Cloud to process maps to make them accessible to a broad audience."
History: "Cartographic design with illustrator, posters with photoshop, pamphlets with indesign, visual essays with photoshop"

Usage across disciplines

  • Curriculum development
  • Research
  • Student assignments
Chemical and Biological Engineering: "Digital storytelling, professional portfolios and other media creations to enhance the transfer of engineering skills to the workplace."
Digital literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills. -American Library Association


UNM IT will partner strategically with the community of New Mexico’s Flagship University to enable success without boundaries through innovative technologies and services aligned with its educational, research and service missions.


Created with images by engin akyurt - "Coronavirus" • Marvin Meyer - "untitled image" • CHUTTERSNAP - "untitled image" • CDC - "This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)." • Mufid Majnun - "simulated covid-19 patients are in the ICU room" • Kelly Sikkema - "Young girl practicing kids coding on iPad" • Erik Mclean - "untitled image" • Mathew Schwartz - "Shot at the New Jersey Institute of Technology" • NASA - "untitled image" • Victoria_Borodinova - "woman model folk costume" • PublicDomainPictures - "chains feet sand" • Matt Artz - "Smokestacks" • Jermaine Ee - "untitled image" • Birmingham Museums Trust - "Wey, 1882-83, William Morris. Watercolour for Printed Fabric Design" • Bernard Hermant - "Big market in Ubud, Indonesia" • tanvi sharma - "Pet Bottles Scrap Manufacturers and Suppliers India | Get contact details of Pet Bottles Scrap Manufacturers Companies at ExportersIndia.com. ExportersIndia.com is a well-known B2B Marketplace, where you can search Pet Bottles Scrap Wholesale Suppliers, Manufacturers of Pet Bottles Scrap India, Pet Bottles Scrap Exporters India, Pet Bottles Scrap Retailers Catalogs India." • Michael Herren - "untitled image" • WikiImages - "human leonardo da vinci the vitruvian man" • Gabriel Petry - "VHS tape I found on my bedroom" • Charles Deluvio - "Work from home (Video call edition)" • Windows - "untitled image" • Franck - "Internet/Safe/Wifi. Use this image for free. Check my profile." • Wokandapix - "books student studying" • Tra Nguyen - "Physics teacher" • Gene Gallin - "Rally goer holds up a "Small Business fighting for survival" sign ar ReOpen NC rally in Raleigh, NC." • National Cancer Institute - "Children in a Classroom. In the back of a classroom, are children about 11 years old with a female teacher talking about the subject - If Someone in Your Family Has Cancer. Photographer Michael Anderson" • Trinity Nguyen - "untitled image" • Pixelkult - "media social media apps" • Francisco Andreotti - "untitled image" • chuttersnap - "untitled image" • Andrew Neel - "Woman working by a window" • John Tuesday - "girl on phone" • Romain Vignes - "Focus definition" • Tyler Easton - "Numbers" • Mika Baumeister - "untitled image" • Giorgio Tomassetti - "Electricity Bill" • Alessandro Bianchi - "light bulb on black background" • Jordan Sanchez - "Our son, Ezra River and one of the most beautifully designed balance bikes for toddlers - made from oak - BrumBrum." • Clint Patterson - "I'm prepping for my Halloween IOT project and my desk is filled with electronics, structural channel, pneumatic cylinders, and actobotics. This phase is when the creativity really comes to life when code on the internet affects objects in real life. It's a messy process, but worth it in the end."