This is the ninth of 10 Lessons from a Post-Pandemic World. For the other nine, click here.
“Administrators in most institutions deserve praise for their resilience and adaptability.”
Administrators in most institutions deserve praise for their resilience and adaptability. Research shows institutions that made decisions early in the Spring 2020 semester (around May) were more successful in launching their Fall semester, even though they had to be flexible as the situation changed over the summer (McCormack, 2020).
The need for a plan
And institutions already offering or had plans for online and blended learning before COVID-19 hit were considered more successful in delivering emergency online learning in terms of student satisfaction.
In 2018, about two-thirds of Canadian post-secondary institutions either had a plan or strategy for digital learning or were developing one (Johnson, 2019). COVID-19 should speed up those plans and bring implementation forward, and it should also make institutions without a plan reconsider.
To be resilient, you must be prepared. That means putting plans in place that can be quickly implemented or modified depending on the context.
Pandemic shaping vision
COVID-19 should force all academic departments and institutions to develop a clear vision of where they want to go with their teaching to ensure that whatever happens, they are in a position to deliver high-quality teaching.
That vision has implications for delivery methods, skills development, digital literacy, teaching quality, support for students and instructors, and the role of technology in teaching and learning.
Resources will be needed, and this will be difficult as provinces deal with the economic fallout from COVID-19.
Nevertheless, several institutions already strengthened their centres for teaching and learning by hiring more staff. Instructional designers, in particular, are in high demand.
Efforts must be made to ensure smaller physical class sizes for the immediate future. This may mean not only hiring more instructors but allocating existing instructors differently to avoid the large first-year lecture classes.
Flexibility is key
Above all, plans must be flexible. The world outside, and technology in particular, is changing too rapidly for rigid five-year plans.
Planning and strategies for teaching and learning should be a continuous, ongoing activity, best conducted at the departmental level, but supported and encouraged by the central administration.
For Lesson 10, click here: We need more (and better) data
McCormack, M. (2020) EDUCAUSE QuickPoll Results: Fall Readiness for Teaching and Learning, EDUCAUSE Review, September 18