The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged all of us to adapt to a new world of online living. Almost all of our communication with others, our businesses, our learning, is all taking place online. Out of necessity, we continue to try to conduct business as usual in a time where it's anything but. Educators around the world have been challenged with switching their classes to a fully online environment and they made it work, they put in the extra hours and adjusted their pedagogy to be better suited for their student’s learning online. Now that the rough transition mid-semester is done, we now look to the Fall semester and the future of higher education as a whole. In the future colleges and universities will be better prepared for pandemics and will be able to transition between in-person and online classes at the drop of a hat. That is going to have an effect on what is expected of educators, staff, and students.
As schools are preparing for the possibility of conducting classes online for the fall semester they are also making arrangements to carry out online teaching further into the future. These plans demand a lot more work from instructors, especially those that don’t normally teach online classes. Teaching online requires a different methodology than face to face lectures; instructors have to take a different approach to keep students engaged in an online environment. When done successfully, online learning can be just as effective as in-person classes. Advancement in online instruction can only lead to good things, it opens the door for more people to gain access to a college education, but we have to plan for the future and make sure that educators are able to facilitate their instruction online in a way that is just as effective as in-person classes.
So what is the future of education going to look like when institutions can respond quickly and effectively to pandemics, crises, natural disasters, etc? Will we start to see semesters that jump between online and in-person based on current events? Will universities adopt more technology to assist with managing a more online student base? What will be the threshold for canceling courses in the future? Some argue that forcing the transition to online in the middle of the semester during a global pandemic might not have been the most ethical thing to do. Instead of laying off the pressure of continuing classes so students, faculty, and staff could focus on their physical and mental health, the semester carried on. This is an uncertain grey area as we continue to adapt to a world filled with uncertainty surrounding COVID-19. Continuing to work is good, but we have to be aware of how we are asking people to work when things are not the norm.
What are your thoughts on how this situation has been handled so far? Do you have any ideas about how universities can create a better online environment for students? Let us know in the comments below.