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Crowdsourced Google Doc of Shutdowns

March 11, 2020

A crowdsourced Google spreadsheet features a running tally of colleges and universities that are closing campuses or suspending in-person instruction and moving online or to distance delivery. The sheet includes dates of closures and program delivery changes as well as details about institutions. One sheet features a map of closures around the U.S., with representations of the numbers of students who are affected. It is being regularly updated.

Bryan Alexander, who created the sheet, is a futurist, researcher and senior scholar at Georgetown University. He focuses on how technology transforms education. Alexander has seen a surge in interest from collaborators who want to help develop it and submit information. For example, Christine Wolff-Eisenberg, manager of surveys and research at Ithaka S+R, contributed data and formatting additions.

"I created it, and folks around the world crowdsourced it," Alexander Tuesday said via email. "In 10 minutes I received 300-plus edit requests."

Google Docs was forcing the spreadsheet into view-only mode, he said, apparently due to traffic.

"I'm setting up an input Google Form unless they can provision more bandwidth," Alexander said.

The site listed disruptions at 83 institutions on Tuesday evening. The number of students affected was growing.

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Paul Fain

Paul Fain, Contributing Editor, came to Inside Higher Ed in September 2011, after a six-year stint covering leadership and finance for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Paul has also worked in higher ed P.R., with Widmeyer Communications, but couldn't stay away from reporting. A former staff writer for C-VILLE Weekly, a newspaper in Charlottesville, Va., Paul has written for The New York Times, Washington City Paper and Mother Jones. He's won a few journalism awards, including one for beat reporting from the Education Writers Association and the Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award. Paul got hooked on journalism while working too many hours at The Review, the student newspaper at the University of Delaware, where he earned a degree in political science in 1996. A native of Dayton, Ohio, and a long-suffering fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, Fain plays guitar in a band with more possible names than polished songs.

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