The pandemic is now in its second year. We have been thrust in and out of face-to-face teaching countless times over the past two years and it’s getting a little old.

The thing is, and this might be controversial (Though, I don’t see how it could be):

I don’t think it’s going away any time soon. 

We keep having to react and “pivot” (I know, I know, I throw up a little bit in my mouth every time I say or hear that word too), but the fact of the matter is we keep thinking that this will all go back to normal.

What if it doesn’t? What if this is a new state in education? Instead of pretending it’s not going to happen, shouldn’t we plan that it is, in fact, normal?

Sure there are some things I miss about the way education worked. But you know what else I miss?

  • Saturday morning cartoons
  • Robin Williams
  • the 80’s
  • my 1977 Volkswagen Rabbit
  • A full head of hair

As much as I miss them, I also realize that none of those things are coming back. Maybe it’s time we accepted that things are not going back to the way they were and we start to design for a new model?

Let’s be honest for a minute here, was it all that perfect? Perhaps we are glamorizing the past (just a little bit).

When we realize that higher ed was designed for a different time and for a different context, maybe it’s time to start asking some questions. Questions like:

  • Is rote learning of facts the best use of time?
  • Are standardized tests the best way to assess?
  • Should teachers just be dispensers of knowledge? Or can they serve another purpose?
  • Is the lecture the only way to pass on this knowledge?
  • Is there a place to insert essential skills and problem-solving into the curriculum?

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to start investigating different technologies, philosophies, and mediums in education. I think that this is an exciting time in higher education. We get to reimagine what it’s going to look like in its next stage.

Some of the areas I really want to dig into:

  • Hyflex
  • Blockchain in higher ed
  • NFT’s
  • Microcredentials
  • Authentic assessments
  • Alternate uses of our learning management systems
  • Video options
  • The use of Podcasts and audiobooks

Again, as we in Alberta are placing our courses back online (even for the short term), I think it is naive to imagine that this is the last time. Let’s stop reacting and start planning.

Let’s keep the conversations going, the imaginations popping, and the creativity flowing. This is not going away, doesn’t education, and our students, deserve us to acknowledge that?

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