How COVID-19 could change higher education

Education

AUSTIN (KXAN — The University of Texas at Austin, Huston-Tillotson and Texas State announced this week plans to go remote for the first two weeks of the spring semester as the omicron variant continues to rage on. Universities and colleges are continuing to adjust to help keep everyone safe.

Ryan Lufkin with Instructure, a web-based learning management system, says many schools initially thought that the pandemic would be a blip on the radar.

“That new normal really is technology-enhanced learning, using more technology in the classroom, to support that engagement between teachers and students, which really is the core of learning,” says Lufkin.

But what’s to come for teachers and students? Lufkin says technology enhances teachers reach students by meeting them where they live, on their phone or computer. “What we’ve seen in the last year really has been an acceleration of innovation, a decade worth of innovation packed into a very short period of time. And so it’s been really revolutionary for both educators and students, there’s so much more technology being used in the classroom and we expect that to continue on,” says Lufkin. “The most impactful factor, measuring student success really is a good teacher. And so the technology doesn’t replace educators, it enhances educators. When used properly, we see they can reach more students, they can reach students more effectively. And they can reach students in a way they want to be communicated with through technology.”

Also allowing students more options when building a schedule.

“Post pandemic, what we’re seeing is a lot of students are looking for more flexibility, more online courses, just because it can be hard to get to campus when you’ve got a job, or you’ve got a family. So, more flexibility is what we’re seeing, you know, college universities are looking to offer more non-traditional offering,” says Lufkin.

So, potentially fewer two and four-year degree programs and more certificate-type programs.

As technology’s role shifts the classroom, Lufkin says feedback is key.

“Just as students learn from their educators every day, the educators are learning from the students and their experiences. And so that feedback that that students give their educators on the technology they’re using and on the way they want to be communicated with is really important. As we continue to evolve the technology-enhanced learning experience, making sure that’s a two way conversation between educators and students, is what will actually make it more impactful and continue to evolve.”

A survey completed by Instructure in 18 countries asked more than 7,700 students, administrators and teachers what they viewed for student success, more than 90% answered the educator.

“The teacher, the professor, they’re the center of that learning experience. And technology is just designed to amplify them. And we want to make that really clear. I mean, there are times when people feel like technology replaces an educator, it certainly doesn’t. It just enhances that experience,” says Lufkin. “And so when we focus on that, we can only focus on the ways that we can amplify their approach, make sure we’re there, they’re gonna be able to communicate with their students the right way, making sure they can scale that to the number of students that they need to reach out to. That’s really powerful.”

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