Re-integration: The new phase in Covid response by education

During the rush to remote learning last March, it was already becoming clear that higher education’s response to Covid would take place in mostly distinct phases.

This year it is becoming more apparent that there is a missing (sub) phase that education is facing in its attempts to reach a new normal. Re-integration of significant face-to-face education is proving to be a significant challenge all by itself.

In a recent webinar sponsored by D2L and hosted by Ken Chapman, NYU’s Clay Shirky described this oversight in my four-phase description. 1 By the way, it’s an excellent webinar devoid of marketing speak – well worth your time to watch the whole discussion [Quote lightly edited and emphasis added].

Clay and moderator Ken Chapman go on to describe further complications beyond International student visas, and the point made is spot on. “It is proving to be almost as difficult to unspool the adaptations to Covid as it was to spool them up.”

We are seeing these challenges in recent media coverage. Where is it appropriate and where is it not to maintain HyFlex models? Is it appropriate to bring students back in the classroom yet have instructors remote? What do we do with the investments in synchronous video systems and the positive examples of increased personalized interactions (in a course or with office hours or advising)? How do we maintain some of the advances made in accessibility and Universal Design for Learning?

The length of the pandemic and the scope of changes made by educational institutions has made re-integration much more complicated than I originally understood, and we need to make this sub-phase more explicit. Accordingly, I have updated the Four Phases Graphic to better describe the COVID Transitions we are facing in education. The core argument is that 2021 will remain a challenging year of transitions, and any sense of a new normal will likely fall into 2022.

Updated graphic showing four phases of higher education response to COVID-19 in terms of online learning adoption.

I’ll leave you with an excellent quote from the Ken Chapman / Clay Shirky discussion that calls out the potential payoff of education’s COVID Transitions.

The illusion that students’ lives could somehow be bracketed when they walked into your classroom, and as a faculty member all that really mattered was were they paying attention right at that moment, that is going away for many of our faculty, and frankly I think that that’s one of the bits of fog that Covid burned off that I hope just does not come rolling back in again.

Disclosure: D2L is a subscriber to our Market Analysis Service, and NYU is a recent client of MindWires.

1 Disclosure: D2L is a subscriber to our Market Analysis Service, and NYU is a recent client of MindWires.