Dr. Claude Toland, Director of Education, Universal Technical Institute
The year 2020 began like any other year for many with the fireworks and parties as 2019 ended and 2020 was introduced as a new year. What was about to happen was unexpected by all as the parties ended and the fireworks burned out. People went back to work; students went back to school, and everyone drifted in their normal everyday patterns. Meanwhile, according to Huang, et al. (2020) in December 2019 there was an outbreak of pneumonia in the capital city of Central Hubei Province, Wuhan, China.
When this outbreak happened, nobody was prepared for all that was about to take place. There was little or no time to prepare for what was about to happen to businesses, the educational delivery processes, and schools across the globe. According to Huang et al (2020), “…the Chinese Government issued a notice for all people, including students to remain home for quarantine until further notice…” The first challenge to arise for educational institutions was that teachers had not prepared their content for online learning even though online learning had been adopted in China since 1998 (Ting in Huang et al, 2020).
Suddenly across the globe, the excitement of 2020 being a new year was overtaken by the new pandemic outbreak called COVID 19. According to Sunita (2020), there was suddenly a worldwide disruption in the educational systems across the globe. There was an assumption that even before the COVID 19 pandemic the world was already suffering from a learning crisis. For example, UNESCO News (2019) stated, roughly 258 million children, adolescents, and youth were out of school in 2018: around one- sixth of the global population of school-age children (6 to 17 years old). Even more worrying is the fact that unless urgent measures are taken, 12 million primary school-age children will never set foot in a school.
This leads us to the question of how did COVID 19 impact everyone’s normal life and especially schools across the globe. Suddenly educational organizations were scrambling to ensure students had online and virtual access. It was evident that schools would be closed; however, the length of time they would be closed was unknown.
Many school leaders decided to create online videos, online lectures, and career schools even developed online labs to help students continue to learn. Schools did not hire professional actors; they used the skilled instructors they had to create the video lectures and labs. The success did not happen overnight. Some schools began to offer educational delivery in a Hybrid format which included several hours at school and several hours online.
Historically we have witnessed the largest disruption in educational systems and the disruption in the daily norms of students across the globe. However, the good news is that many have learned that online and virtual education is possible and can be provided in a high-quality manner. Online learning is not new; however, it is now new to many new online learners and the Hybrid Model will be around for many years to come.
Historically we have witnessed the largest disruption in educational systems and the disruption in the daily norms of students across the globe
Dhawan (2020) stated, “This crisis will make the institutions, which were earlier reluctant to change, accept modern technology.” Sometimes change must be forced on organizations due to the high level of resistance by many. We each may ask the question, what is required of me? The answer is simple. We must be flexible, open, and willing to make the changes to get us to what is now called the new normal. As we move forward remember the words enthusiasm, flexibility, evaluate and adjust. These words will get us to the new normal of providing quality education online.
Jonathan Daitch, Associate Provost for Online Education, Western University of Health Sciences and Jonathan Labovitz, DPM, FACFAS, CHCQM, Associate Dean, Clinical Education and Graduate Placement Professor, College of Podiatric Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences