Technology in Higher Education: Effect of the Pandemic
With the start of the 21st century and a digital age greatly affected by the concept of the ‘Internet’, it was supposed to be only a matter of time before their influence would be disruptive for the field of education. Yet, even without the use of any facts or articles to support this, we do know that this was a very subjective development speaking country-wise, based on the economy, education system, connection to the majority of the learners, etc. When we were tasked with writing a blog post related to ‘Technology in Higher Education’, the first thing that came to my mind was the impact that the emergence of the pandemic has caused for the development of this field. I know it might be controversial to say this however I think that the forced transition to digital methods and usage of technology for dissemination of knowledge due to the COVID-19 pandemic has started the building of a road that will lead to more access to education for many. Of course, this might also mean that in some countries which have very poor infrastructure related to the internet, it has led to students being cut off from education itself.
An interesting, although short, interview by Professor Ubell sheds some light on this topic. In this interview, even he states that the pandemic kind-of caused an amateur but necessary transition to online learning as the institutions were forced to respond to the conditions in order to continue the dissemination of knowledge. I still remember an additional week of break was granted by Virginia Tech solely for all faculty to be able to make the digital transition. In our case where the Canvas LMS has led to greatly digital interactions with study material already, this was important especially in the cases of math-oriented subjects which need a pen-and-paper approach for maximum understanding by working it out. In my home country, India, there were many cases where school teachers who are not that technology-adept had to work along with their own kids to be able to understand the logistics and actually deliver the learning materials by the use of Zoom or other conferencing software.
One interesting observation in this regard is something I want to connect to the NMC Horizon Reports. One of the points mentioned in a report from 2014 was the ‘Lower Digital Fluency of the Faculty’ among other points. Going through them made me feel that in hindsight it was like a prediction of the needs in the future, as the transition would have been much smoother if such reports that are being prepared all around the world are used as references by the governments, universities, and accreditation agencies for the betterment of the pedagogical experience.
October 29, 2021 @ 5:12 pm
Hi Mohit, thank you for this post! The pandemic was definitely a rude transition into online education, but one that was likely to happen at some point regardless. There are so many advantages to gain from this, such as increased class sizes, the ability to work through course material at your own pace, being able to take classes from anywhere around the world, and many others. This can even be seen with a lot of businesses that saw their employees enjoy being able to work from home and could cut out overhead expenses used for a office facility. This money could then be used to increase wages for employees as well as larger profits for the business. The downsides of the pandemic seemed to mainly come at the expenses of confusion on how to transition to online settings, a lack of face-to-face interaction leading to negative mental health outcomes, and other various issues. That all being said, I think the current state of academia is one that could be highly sustainable. Many classes are now able to offer both online and in person versions at the same time, which caters to a much larger audience with roughly the same amount of effort being put into the course by professors and teaching assistants.
November 1, 2021 @ 4:40 pm
I really do appreciate the discussion being brought toward the affects COVID has had on our push towards a digitial age of education. I’m sure that everyone involved in academia can speak toward how difficult it has been carving that road. I just wanted to ask, in your opinion, what are methods that we can use in a post 2020 time to further ease the transition to digital learning.