A Genius 2021 Outlook on Online Education:
Updated: Jan 6
Pandemic End? Double Down on Online Ed!
Collectively, we’re happy to put 2020 behind us and look to a more hopeful 2021. With the promise of effective vaccines, those in Higher Ed may feel we’ve dodged a bullet and thankfully can now return to campus-based classes. But counterintuitively, it is time to redouble our efforts in online education, and forward-thinking schools and programs will be doing just that. We will see a flurry of activity and investment in online education in 2021 and beyond.
Covid-19 sent the education world scrambling in early 2020, trying to piece together an emergency plan to continue students’ education in the midst of the pandemic. In Higher Ed, student concerns and criticisms were voiced: “why should I pay so much money for a bunch of Zoom meetings?” Clearly, the turn to Zoom was an emergency response. What else could we do? It was like an emergency patch of a flat tire to get us into town so we could make a proper repair. But a Zoom meeting, or any synchronous-only platform, should not be equated with a robust online education course — as student criticism clearly demonstrated. There is so, so much more that is needed and is possible for online education. And students have a right to expect quality online education that brings together dynamic content and technology within a cohesive pedagogy.
In many ways, we will find that the pandemic has changed Higher Ed forever, just as it has changed the world in general. Working from home, telecommuting, telehealth, teletherapy, digital signatures, online courses; these will remain — to some degree — a part of our new normal. Which colleges and universities want to bet there will never be another pandemic? At the very least, all colleges will want to have an emergency online plan developed. It’s the only responsible thing to do. Think of it as the equivalent of a building’s insurance policy. How could you not have a plan to continue delivering quality education to your students during the next emergency when an effective option exists? Failure to have an emergency plan is a risky high roller gamble with malfeasance.
Looking at 2021, what kinds of development can we expect in online Higher Ed?