Epidemics, Pandemics and Educational Innovation

Posted on: 11 March 2020 by Ceri Coulby in General

Masked Woman and Virus
Masked Woman and Virus

With rationing in supermarkets, flights cancelled until further notice and the whole of Italy on lock down, to say we live in interesting and uncertain times is an understatement. We thought nothing could rival the complexity of Brexit; but the rapid spread of coronavirus across the globe just goes to show we should never underestimate our ability to be surprised!

Whilst we try as a country to unravel the impact of COVID 19 on essential services and as individuals to take the precautions we can to protect our health, as employees we are attempting to unpack the impact on our own organisations.

For those of us in higher education this is a complex mix of the impact on staff, home and international students, prospective students, professional qualifications, graduation and workforce planning to name just a few!

Delivering education to current students is actually one of the areas we are best prepared to face, with online and distance education widely established, converting face to face sessions and group activities to a Virtual Learning Environment is one of the easier challenges.

More difficult is the impact on traditional exam based assessment, graduation logistics, admissions and student support and social wellbeing. As we start to consider how we could address these issues we are compelled to think outside of our common, deeply ingrained practices and come up with creative, and sometimes uncomfortable solutions that challenge the status quo. As awful as the impact of COVID 19 is, it also allows us a wonderful opportunity to examine current processes and practices and embrace innovation.

So what will come out of this crisis in the end? It is difficult to imagine at this stage but I hope we will take the opportunity to develop assessments that more closely reflect real world practices, embrace online, values based admission interviews that give prospective students greater flexibility and focus on developing online student communities as well as more traditional student societies.

Why not share your views and ideas with us, and see if we as a higher education community can bring something positive for our staff and students out of a difficult situation? Add your comments and thoughts using the hashtag #CIEResponse on Twitter.