A year ago, if you were to ask what the biggest challenge or trend might be at the start of a new academic year, the answers could have spanned miles and gigabytes: Socioeconomic inequities and disparities. Digital transformation. Affordability. The list could go on.
Ask the same question today, however, and the answer will likely be some variation on one theme: The traditional learning model has been upended by a forced pivot to online, remote and blended learning. All the previous challenges still exist — they’ve just been magnified and exacerbated.
The conversation around the merits of online learning dates back almost as far as the internet itself. For years, decades even, higher education leaders debated the efficacy and value of virtual vs. physical classrooms, often to a degree that hindered experimentation with — let alone adoption of — blended learning models.
Then came COVID-19, and with it proof that necessity isn’t just the mother of invention but also of implementation.