All industries and sectors have been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, and higher education has been no exception. In the effects of and response to the pandemic, the diversity of campus cultures, financial health, business models, and students have contributed to a similar diversity. For higher education, there was no pandemic blueprint, and 2020 was a year that needed a decade of commitment and transition.
And still, it will end the pandemic. Epidemiologists will no longer appear on television shows on a daily basis sometime in the future, and public spaces will no longer be labeled with circles every six feet. What is left, what are we going to face on the other side of COVID-19, and what part can technology play in the forthcoming recovery?
We have all developed a new way of thinking about the future after the pandemic. We’ve discovered the futility of making long-term preparations to alleviate an illness with nuanced and poorly understood signs, diagnosis, medications, and prognoses. Most of us have realized that a pandemic can not be handled successfully by obstinacy, cheerleading, skepticism, and magical thinking. The usefulness of contemplating scenarios and increasing our resilience and versatility has also been taught.
Scenarios allow us to predict possible potential alternatives, so that we are prepared not just for what we may expect or fear, but also for what is actually happening. When situations change and new knowledge comes to light, agility and versatility help us move rapidly and adaptively. Now is the time to understand how the pandemic can bring about higher education and how information technology will help.
3 Possible Scenarios for Pandemic Recovery in 2021
We made three assumptions when we considered possible scenarios that could direct the pandemic recovery preparation of an organization.
Assumption 1: Sometime in 2021, the pandemic will begin to be resolved.
One or more successful vaccinations will be available and distributed. It would be possible for leaders, students, and other stakeholders to begin preparing for their recovery journeys.
Assumption 2: High-level views of future recovery dreams should be in our scenarios.
The three examples we have selected are very general and focused on how the vision, culture, and business model of an organization can impact its recovery strategy.
Assumption 3: very few institutions will likely suit a particular scenario.
For instance, one scenario may be adopted by leaders to guide financial health and another to guide education and academic work.
The panel selected three scenarios using these assumptions as a guide:
- Recover. In order to get back to where we were before the pandemic, we will be concentrating on finding out what to do.
- Only grow. We will work on transitioning ourselves to the new standard.
- Convert. We will concentrate on redefining our organization and actively contributing to the development of a creative future for higher education.
What next in 2021?
The big wildcard for 2021 will be lessons learned by faculty, administrators, students, and the family from the pandemic. If all goes well, students will be pleased to return to pre-pandemic higher education and remain resigned to their costs. If all goes well, administrators and faculty agree on how to integrate online learning into a restored institutional culture.
The pandemic has been a global disaster of unprecedented proportions in our lives. It’s going to prove to be an inflection point. With all these said, we will remember life before the pandemic and compare it to a significantly different life after the pandemic. Higher education is not going to be the same. In fact, for some institutions, the pandemic will be an extinction event.
The pandemic will alter our lives, be it at a structural or surface level. There will be many who truly work on revolutionary and financial health or culture aspects.
But the pandemic will result in other institutions to reinvent themselves and start contributing to the epigenetic change of higher education.
With all these changes in every aspect of our lives, now we have to do things with the help of technology because everything is online nowadays.
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