The Future of Higher Education: Post Pandemic and Beyond
Educational institutions across the globe have long acknowledged the need to advance technologically in terms of the learning experience, resource material access, and supplementary educational activities they offer their students however, the convenience that traditional ways offer pushed back most of their plans to implement various educational innovations.
It wasn’t until March of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, that everyone was forced into a home-based learning setup. The emergency has made even those who doubted online education jump on the bandwagon as they had no other choice considering many countries mandated their schools to close temporarily due to the public health crisis.
Remote teaching and learning in higher education were initially designed to be a temporary, short-term solution to the health emergency. Two years into the pandemic, however, has highlighted the valuable lessons gained from this remote learning experience and they should not at all be discarded.
Now that the world is finally seeing an end to the pandemic, people are asking what the future holds for higher education. According to information elicited from the ASU+GSV Summit along with other relevant studies, the following could be expected for post-pandemic higher education:
More Technology Embedded into Learning
At the virtual ASU+GSV Summit where five university and college presidents were asked what higher education ideally would look like five years from now, one of the key ideas presented was from Eloy Oakley, the chancellor of California Community Colleges.
Quoting directly from Oakley, “We’ve advanced five years in a matter of five months in the use of technology. And that’s something that we have to hold on to.”, this implies that the learning experience for higher education students has changed drastically thanks to technology.
As the world eases back to the new normal where face-to-face classes are already allowed with some special restrictions, classroom setups are expected to make use of technology more than they have before the pandemic. Visual aids, note-taking, actual learning experiences, and information sources are all enhanced with further technological integration in educational institutions.
With more embedded technology, universities and colleges will be able to reach more adult learners as they use the current shift to online learning as a stepping stone to making higher education learning more accessible from anywhere.
For Peter Cohen, the president of the University of Phoenix, one of the things that can be expected in higher education as it moves on from the pandemic is the concept of learning beyond degrees. Cohen further explained, “The idea that you go to school once when you’re young and you have the skills you need for life — long gone.”. He means to say that the changes in technology and various industries have caused different careers to change over time. Simply completing a degree can no longer be sufficient to guarantee good-paying jobs or a successful career.
Cohen’s statement implies that after the pandemic, more students getting into universities and colleges may be observed not for simply completing their schooling but to ultimately advance in their careers. The educational institutions themselves are also expected to expand the courses they offer to better align them and the graduates they produce with what the industry is now looking for. According to him, most of these courses will provide learnings that will allow people to advance in their careers in terms of getting promotions or completely changing their career paths to suit the needs of the post-pandemic industries.
Increased Partnering Between Educational Institutions
For Thomas, the president of Morehouse College, more partnerships between universities and colleges can be expected in higher education. Just as different industries are gradually making a comeback after being hit by the pandemic, education sectors also face the same challenge. The shifts in the industries, as well as new technological developments, have highlighted the various areas that must be enhanced in order to not only survive in the new normal but ultimately thrive.
For educational institutions that now have to shift back to a classroom-based setting with embedded technology from emergency remote teaching, the way to sustain the gains from the good outcomes associated with their COVID-19 responses is to partner with other institutions to build up resources for infrastructure and enhance the quality as well as distribution of digital learning in combination with traditional classes.
Rather than seeing each other as competition, universities and colleges now need each other to make the quality of education they offer more suited to the demands of the post-pandemic world.
Online learning may have been a mere emergency response to the pandemic, but it should be anticipated that there would be a continuing need for this mode of instruction even as more universities open for face-to-face classes. Students can also expect to use more technology in their learning experiences along with shifts in their chosen career paths as there may be a need for continuous skills upgrade as new industry requirements emerge.
However each higher education institution chooses to move forward beyond the pandemic, what’s important is that they don’t discard any of the valuable insights presented by the crisis which they could use as steppingstones to provide more quality and timely education to their students.