Re-integration: The new phase in Covid response by educationAuthor Phil Hill /5 Comments/by Phil Hill
During the rush to remote learning last March, it was already becoming clear that higher education’s response to Covid would take place in mostly distinct phases.
- March 15, 2020: Covid-19 Migration to Online: Entering the second phase – In this post I described the then-current “rush to Zoom” phase, which would eventually lead to phases for LMS Integration and Addressing Equitable Access and The New Normal.
- March 31, 2020: Revised Outlook for Higher Ed’s Online Response to COVID-19 – By this post my thinking had settled on a four-phase response, with accompanying graphic, resulting in a New Normal starting early 2021.
- October 27, 2020: Phase 3 of Higher Ed’s Response to COVID Will Extend the Turmoil Through Spring 2021 – By the fall it was clear that there would not be any New Normal due to an expected winter surge of the pandemic, and in Kevin’s post I updated the graphic’s timeline for Phase 3 and Phase 4.
This year it is becoming more apparent that there is a missing (sub) phase that education is facing in its attempts to reach a new normal. Re-integration of significant face-to-face education is proving to be a significant challenge all by itself.
In a recent webinar sponsored by D2L and hosted by Ken Chapman, NYU’s Clay Shirky described this oversight in my four-phase description. 1Disclosure: D2L is a subscriber to our Market Analysis Service, and NYU is a recent client of MindWires. By the way, it’s an excellent webinar devoid of marketing speak – well worth your time to watch the whole discussion [Quote lightly edited and emphasis added].
[8:25] Much of my work now is about Spring of 2022 which is, it’s a much happier place than Spring of 21, I’ll tell you. And then periodically there will be crises and short-term questions, and I get drawn back, but this drawing very much encapsulates what we have experienced at NYU, with the exception of Phase Four. I think Phil underestimated the degree to which transitioning back to face-to-face is also hard, because there is not a moment that what everybody wants is just ‘we’re doing this online thing (and at NYU it’s about 70%, and in person is about 30% in terms of classes, and then of course the in terms of attendance it’s much more online because the biggest classes are online) we’re not just going to flip a switch and we’re all back to 2019 like we clicked the ruby slippers.’ There is gonna be this bumpy transition where even when people are vaccinated, the international visa channel is not open, and we are going to have thousands of students stranded outside the country, and even more complicatedly they may be able to come back in October or November, which means that their semester may have two very different halves. It is proving to be almost as difficult to unspool the adaptations to Covid as it was to spool them up.
Clay and moderator Ken Chapman go on to describe further complications beyond International student visas, and the point made is spot on. “It is proving to be almost as difficult to unspool the adaptations to Covid as it was to spool them up.”
We are seeing these challenges in recent media coverage. Where is it appropriate and where is it not to maintain HyFlex models? Is it appropriate to bring students back in the classroom yet have instructors remote? What do we do with the investments in synchronous video systems and the positive examples of increased personalized interactions (in a course or with office hours or advising)? How do we maintain some of the advances made in accessibility and Universal Design for Learning?
The length of the pandemic and the scope of changes made by educational institutions has made re-integration much more complicated than I originally understood, and we need to make this sub-phase more explicit. Accordingly, I have updated the Four Phases Graphic to better describe the COVID Transitions we are facing in education. The core argument is that 2021 will remain a challenging year of transitions, and any sense of a new normal will likely fall into 2022.
I’ll leave you with an excellent quote from the Ken Chapman / Clay Shirky discussion that calls out the potential payoff of education’s COVID Transitions.
[14:50] I think the cultural shift of faculty being aware that not all students are equally well supported outside the classroom is potentially huge, that the willingness to have things like conversations about the cost of textbooks, which has been a perennial pain point but never really risen to the level of anything more than individual faculty concern may now become a university-wide conversation. Ditto wi-fi hotspots, ditto computer access, etc, etc.
The illusion that students’ lives could somehow be bracketed when they walked into your classroom, and as a faculty member all that really mattered was were they paying attention right at that moment, that is going away for many of our faculty, and frankly I think that that’s one of the bits of fog that Covid burned off that I hope just does not come rolling back in again.
Disclosure: D2L is a subscriber to our Market Analysis Service, and NYU is a recent client of MindWires.
Hi Phil – great article – the infographic in regard to the 4 phases appears to be missing? on the webpage – I saw it there when i first clicked on it and now has disappeared. I wanted to share with my colleagues
That’s strange – I can’t replicate the problem but will try with some other computers.
In the meantime, you can get the full-size image here: https://mindwires.com/four-phase-response-of-education-to-covid-spring-2021-update/
Thanks Phil – much appreciated I will share with my team – we are full swing resumption planning for the Fall 2021 semester and I believe your report will be useful resource
Here is what I see on the website – https://www.screencast.com/t/AOM52ENIR
Phil, thanks for this, and I’ll add here that the shift in the experience of faculty, staff, and students with online education is part of what makes the transition out of COVID so challenging. It’s not just not being able to return all at once; thousands of faculty members and millions of students had classes online and the sky did not fall, and they will want to retain some of those adaptations, even where they require a change in the way our institutions work.
At a minimum, the “We’ve had our last snow day” observation is going to generalize to more flipped classrooms; more video recordings and transcripts as accommodations; more remote guest lecturers; more faculty teaching remotely when sick or traveling; more students attending remotely when sick or traveling; et cetera. And that’s all without any courses changing to fully online mode.
Then there are staff, and, in our domain, especially support staff, instructional designers, and so on. The job sections of IHE and the Chronicle make it clear how competitive these jobs are going to be for the next few years, and any well-paying school that says “You have to come back to campus” is going to find that some employees will leave for jobs that pay less but allow better flexibility. And if people can take new jobs without moving, or move without taking a new job, higher ed staffing is going to get even more competitive.
And all of this cultural competence and confidence with remote instruction, attendance, and work will translate into more fully online classes being deployed to allow for things like staying on track with a major while studying abroad, or taking one summer class to be able to change majors or make up for a dropped class or bad grade while still graduating on time.
I expect most of this transition will be in the direction of hybrids, online courses at mostly in-person schools. I expect the ‘All classes online’ IPEDS numbers from AY20 to rise only modestly in the next few years, but I expect the ‘At least one online class’ numbers to rise pretty dramatically, as all of the unfamiliarity with the form and conduct of those classes has simply gone away.
Not every faculty member or student wants more online in their lives right now, but all of them now know how to do it when it is called for.
Thanks, Clay, for additional thoughts.