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What lasting impacts will the COVID-19 pandemic have on education?


Naina Phadnis, assistant director, School of Biological Sciences

The pandemic unveiled that technology can enhance learning, increase interactions, and make quality education accessible to a greater audience. Previously, students had to come to campus and muster up the courage to walk into a professor’s office to seek guidance. Now, students can get help from the comfort of their home. But many students have also struggled in this format and need the personalized one-on-one aspect of education in order to succeed. It has also revealed disparities where access to technology, space, childcare, etc., have impacted access to online education for some students.

Aaron Fischer, assistant professor, Educational Psychology

One of the biggest barriers to effective online education is the stigma that “online education doesn’t work” or isn’t as effective as in-person. I resist that notion. Like any teaching, even in-person teaching, the instructor’s pedagogy is critical to the course being effective—how they teach, particularly their discourse and engagement strategies, set the tone and influence learning outcomes. Online educators can provide robust and highly effective teaching experiences if they commit to learning innovative ways to refine and enhance their teaching as well as to being open to student feedback.

Miguel Chuaqui, director, School of Music

We had to ask ourselves how to deliver our curriculum and provide important music experiences for our students under these circumstances. We worked hard to develop a student-centered plan. For example, our choir director has 10 choir members at a time in separate rooms connect digitally to him and each other. Each part is mixed with the others to produce recordings of the choir members singing together. But the reality is that although we can teach many music subjects online, and our students are resilient, performing music in a group is likely to never work as well online.

Deborah Keyek-Franssen, dean, Continuing and Online Education

Like the U’s degree-seeking students, many continuing education students had to quickly transition to fully remote learning. One of the biggest lessons is that online teaching requires a different design—asynchronous videos need to be shorter than traditional lectures, opportunities for peer interactions need to be intentionally created, and assessments need to be tightly aligned with outcomes. A silver lining is that we’re having conversations about the importance of being deliberate in designing for interactivity and authentic assessments of learning.

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