Having joined the policy making arm of a tertiary institution just prior to the advent of the coronavirus pandemic has increased my awareness of the magnitude of efforts of Vice Chancellors, Faculty, Staff and Students to pivot to online provision to ensure continuity of teaching, learning, exams, administration and management. I have been attracted by the extensive range of information that provides fascinating higher educational models for the COVID-19 generation. My interest was piqued by how some of these models may yet be embedded as templates for the future of higher education. The 5 models presented are drawn from a limited number of references and therefore may not represent the very best examples of possibilities. But, at least, they ought to trigger further discussion.
Inside Higher Education (February 10) has advertised a webinar on 'Overcoming Faculty Pandemic Burnout' for February 26, 2020. It will no doubt amplify that:
A case study by the World Bank on how tertiary educational systems in Europe and Asia are responding to the COVID 19 pandemic is very instructive. It provides key recommendations of how higher educational institutions successfully pivoted to COVID 19 requirements. It noted that the transition was comparatively easy for those countries like Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany that had invested in pre-crisis digitalization in a strategic way. Those countries that had not developed such strategic approaches toward digitalization and had in addition, been decreasing investment in higher education faced significant difficulties. These difficulties apply to specific issues like student financing, quality assurance, and the status of academic staff.
Other reports and studies like those of the Carnegie Foundation for Advanced Education, identified more broad based holistic concerns for the entire education system. They imply that R&D techniques provided by higher educational institutions may provide useful ways to address public/private sector policies for the COVID19 generation and beyond with specific relevance to community, national, regional and international arenas. These include:
Some outstanding Models
Of the many models that I have come across, five were selected, of which four seem to engender approaches in what is commonly referred to as "thinking outside the box". The fifth one, however is completely "without the box ".
Model 1: An Iterative Approach: Embracing Six Principles of Scientific Improvement
Last week's Blog introduced this approach. It identified the strategies required to evaluate, course correct, document, and scale new approaches that can help power up schools over time. These involve real-time teams of practice-oriented researchers working to scale up and sustain transformative change in education systems. However, this approach draws on six principles in The Harvard Study (2015) Learning to Improve: How America’s Schools Can Get Better at Getting Better. Subsequently, the Harvard Education Review’s comprehensive summary of the study, draws the significant lesson learned i.e. we cannot improve at scale what we cannot measure. The six related principles include :
Model 2: Make Equity and Inclusion a priority during the crisis and beyond
The current coronavirus pandemic is having a profound impact not only on people's health but on how they learn, work and live. While we have dealt with this issue previously, a recent OECD study (November 2020) using data from 36 countries in Europe , North America, Latin America, The Caribbean and Africa developed a combined profile of strategies for education continuity to support at-risk students who are particularly affected by the crisis. Successful outcomes of the strategies below depend on partnerships, parental and family engagement, information on health and education and additional finances:
Model 3: Expand on multilateral approaches revolving around Global Stars
A study by Ellie Bothwell in the Times Higher Education Supplement shows the importance of International Cooperation in research focusing on artificial intelligence and how leading institutions are focusing on becoming more comprehensive than specialists. It highlights historical ways of working in computer science in Europe over the past 30 years across different cultures and languages. Also, by bringing together expertise across different areas of artificial intelligence (AI), university alliances demonstrate that notions of academic excellence are increasingly linked to interdisciplinary orientations for solving global challenges. Most prominent in interdisciplinary research projects with high societal impact are the engineering and STEM fields. In addition the technology-focused institutions, not only attract research funding more quickly than many other fields but they also tend to relate as part of the immediate needs or "low hanging fruit" to government development policies and the area where industry is mostly looking for cooperation. Hence this provides the rationale for higher educational institutions to tap sources of public/private financing for equity and inclusion priorities during the crisis and beyond.
Model 4: Peer Observation is valuable even online
Anna McKie provides interesting results from a study on a development model of peer observation of teaching (December 2019). https://www.timeshighereducation.com/career/teaching-intelligence-peer-observation-valuable-even-online. She is of the view that while standard ways of discussing and improving teaching practices that have been upended by the coronavirus pandemic, there are models of swift movement to online learning. The project, based on evaluation of medical staff and students consisted of four phases: a pre-observation meeting, the observation, the post-observation debrief, a report and group feedback process. According to feedback from participants who all had initial reservations about peer observations, the process contributed greatly to their development. Staff cited valuable changes in teaching methodology and the students referred to the steep and satisfactory curve of adapting to the new mode of engagement and assessment. However, they both agree that the importance of teaching skills has not lessened, and that peer observation – in essence, watching another teacher teach online, enforced by these socially distanced times will no doubt remain a useful tool beyond the COVID-19 era.
Model 5: Discover A New Education Model That Gives You Better Advantages Than A Harvard Degree For Under $500 A Year
This model is "without the box" which makes it exceptionally fascinating. It is the idea of Vishen Lakhiani, founder of Mindvalley, an award-winning education movement acclaimed to have millions of students worldwide and growing fast. Mr. Lakhiani has spent over 15 years "reimagining the human experience by exploring the science of helping humans reach their fullest potential". It offers the following:
Edward and Auriol Greene Directors, GOFAD.