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A Glimpse at the New Normal


We've discovered some interesting ideas about the future of teaching and learning.

Higher education's response to the COVID-19 pandemic prominently featured a rapid, wholesale change in teaching and learning modalities: nearly everything went to contactless, remote interactions. For many, remote learning has both allowed college programs a way forward during campus shut downs and created new options to accommodate students' learning needs. Certainly not all programs have survived the pandemic storm equally, especially those that require hands-on learning. Also, remote learning has had an uneven impact on students, particularly those with limited technology, bandwidth, and digital literacy.

What's surprising are the changing attitudes around remote learning. Late in the Spring of 2020, faculty and administrators were overwhelmingly astonished and deservingly proud that their school was able to pivot from in-person classes to remote teaching and learning. Then, in the Fall of 2020 we began to detect fatigue. Students, instructors, and staff were growing tired of and disillusioned by remote learning. Now, in the Summer of 2021 we are seeing new attitudes about teaching and learning. Some say remote learning is here to stay, other say it's time turn off the cameras and get back to our pre-COVID modes. The new normal will probably something of a hybrid solution. 

Remote learning cuts both ways: it offers new levels of access and opportunities for learning but it also limits and diminishes the learning experience. It will be interesting to see what happens as thousands of colleges and universities return to class this fall.