The future of teaching and learning is in our hands
When I’ll look back at life under COVID-19 in a few years time, I will remember two contrasting experiences. On the one hand, a life on “pause” with restrictions of all kinds that all started in the same way: “you cannot…”. And on the other hand, the “fast forward” experience in teaching and learning that required imagination, agility, resilience and a deep sense of care.
With access to vaccination, “life after COVID” is in sight. What will teaching and learning look and feel like? Will we fall back into our old habits and take refuge in the traditional face to face interaction? Will we celebrate the flexibility of online learning? Will we take shortcuts and do a bit of both to “make everyone happy”?
To tell you the truth, when I speak to colleagues and students, we all share a common experience at present: we are exhausted, trying to survive one day at a time! However, I feel teachers have never felt so committed to delivering the best possible experience of teaching and learning in partnership with their students.
In this current context, how can we find the energy to think ahead, plan, imagine, and foresee the future?
The first and foremost priority is to create safe social spaces that break silos and invite conversations from all horizons. We need technicians, students, graduates, curriculum leaders, managers and employers to come together and share their vision of teaching and learning.
The energy, inspiration and ambition we so much need has to be collective to embrace the opportunity that is offered to us. Now more than ever, communities of practice offer an opportunity to create innovative trusted spaces where committed and passionate individuals can engage over time beyond traditional boundaries.
Personally, I imagine teaching and learning to be quite different from what it is right now. I feel students will choose to engage in learning when there is care, expertise and flexibility. But above all, I feel students will wish to feel they belong to a community where they are nurtured to confidently engage through the different stages of their professional and personal development.
Teaching and learning will be offered online and face to face, synchronously and asynchronously in a hybrid mode. Students will then engage as they wish, in a flexible manner, depending on where they live, their professional or family commitment.
The technology is not the challenge, it is already there. The challenge is to build a sense of togetherness to form communities that welcome, support and inspire teachers and learners across these different realities.
One lesson I will particularly take away from this COVID experience is that from one day to the next, we had to go out of our comfort zone like never before to adapt, think differently and find solutions. Emergency Remote Teaching may not have been perfect, but it forced us to go beyond obstacles we thought were unsurmountable. Let’s not wait for another virus to kick us in the backside; let’s remember the future of teaching and learning is in our hands.