A quick post to stimulate thought. I while ago, way pre-pandemic, I attended a conference (BNet I believe) and the keynote put an image into my head of an elastic band and how it related to post-secondary funding. He mentioned, as he gestured with his hands, that post-secondary institutions grow and thrive as long as the funding keeps coming in (slowly spreading his arms out as if an invisible elastic band were slowing them down). As soon as the funding stops, snap! The elastic band snaps back and institutions regress to where they were pre-funding, or thereabouts.
We are in exactly the same situation now and I have seen it snap back already.
Since March, 2020, most people I have contact with have become much more adaptable, innovative, creative, and all else that force change brings. The end result was a new and alternative way of providing old services to students and instructors. Best of all it was more efficient, productive, and accessible to everyone that I have spoken with. I’m sure there will be a multitude of research papers published in the coming months to support my observation, or maybe I should get off my butt and do some research myself.
I’ve already seen that those who sat on the sidelines during the pivot to online, those who went on sabbatical, leave of absence, etc. to avoid the stress of the pivot to online have already shown that they are less equipped with the skills developed while working remotely. Those who have taught online from home have said that the technology in a hyflex classroom, for example, looks easy while those coming off a sabbatical said this is way to complex and no one should be asked to teach in such an environment. A simple hybrid classroom has also proved to be too much tech to manage during a class for those who were spectators over the past 18 months.
All I know now is that the elastic has snapped back with back-to-campus mandates. Efficiency, productivity and innovation are already declining (again, personal observation) because institutions are going back to the old routine of a pre-COVID world, a world which doesn’t exist anymore, some institutions more than others.
Stretching an elastic takes effort, and so does maintaining the progress which we have made in teaching and learning, and support it. We can easily regress to the pre-pandemic world, or keep up with the times by keeping options open that worked so well for students, instructors, and staff.