Because of COVID-19, most professors and students suddenly find themselves forced to use technology as they teach and learn. A panel of experts explores whether that will help or hurt attitudes about online education.
My contribution to this Inside Higher Ed article published in March 18, 2020 appears below. The rest of the contributions are available at https://edtechbooks.org/-VXQL
The alternative teaching and learning environments being rapidly developed right now need to be put in context of the times that we are living in. We are not creating alternative teaching and learning environments by choice. Our students are not opting in to them by choice. We are in a global crisis, which demands of students and faculty to not only switch to new learning environments, but also forces them to navigate new or different responsibilities and realities.
For instance, international students may have to search for off-campus housing when campuses shut down, or people who are parents may have to care for young children while teaching/working from home … or, in my case, I keep calling my parents, who live thousands of miles away, in order to help them navigate the abundance of anxiety-provoking misinformation that they are seeing and facing on a daily basis.
What this environment will lead to is greater recognition of the role that learning and teaching experts bring to the table, especially instructional designers, educational technologists and other professionals who work in places like centers for teaching and learning. This environment will shine a light on the expertise, creativity, resilience and humanity not only of these individuals, but of the higher education ecosystem as a whole.
Toward this, I am hoping that this crisis will shine light on the value, expertise and work that these individuals do. In the process, this may help us all rethink not only in-person delivery, but also online learning, assessment practices, flexibility and ways of teaching and learning in general. I am hoping it will foster more cooperation between institutions of higher education, between education professionals and between faculty and students. I am hoping that it helps us come closer to our students and their daily realities, and in the process help us create more compassionate learning environments.
A quick peek on social media -- our email in-boxes even -- may reveal not only the abundance of resources and creative solutions that are being shared, but also the help, support and community that we are extending to one another. This gives me hope for the future, whatever form it takes.