Mar 2020

Will Shift to Remote Teaching Be Boon or Bane for Online Learning?

Because of COVID-19, most professors and students suddenly find themselves forced to use technology as they teach and learn. A panel of experts explores whether that will help or hurt attitudes about online education.

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What a difference a week makes.

Seven days ago in this space, I went out of my way to say that I hoped to make this column a “coronavirus-free space” to the extent possible, given Inside Higher Ed‘s excellent coverage of the pandemic elsewhere and the “recognition that the rest of what we all do professionally each day isn’t stopping.”

That all may still be true, but the new reality is that COVID-19 is increasingly dominating not just our collective head spaces (in ways helpful and not) but also what our jobs are day to day. That’s especially the case in certain realms, including for those of you responsible for helping to deliver instruction and learning at your institutions.

So today, at least — next week seems very far away at this point — this column will focus on a question that is generating a good bit of discussion among thoughtful observers of teaching and learning issues: What impact will this sudden, forced immersion and experimentation with technology-enabled forms of learning have on the status of online learning in higher education? Below, 11 experts share their thoughts on how the explosion of remote learning — much of which may be primitive and of dubious quality — could affect attitudes and impressions of a mode of learning that already struggles to gain widespread faculty and student support.


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