In the decade before the COVID-19 pandemic, teaching and learning in higher education across the United States – and also in many places around the world – evolved rapidly, if unevenly, due to the convergence of three trends.
We are living through truly extraordinary times; a period of time defined by tremendous uncertainty, change and anxiety. Higher education has had to - quite literally - flip a switch and move to online teaching or, rather, emergency remote teaching (ERT), in an effort to continue and hopefully complete the 2020 academic year. This move to ERT, whilst terrifying, is perhaps an attempt to ensure some level of routine and “normalcy” is maintained when focusing on teaching and learning.
Many of us, along with our students, are experiencing stress, anxiety, and even trauma. How can we not? Our brains do an amazing job to keep us alive—constantly scanning the environment looking for and responding to threats and dangers.
The devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has had substantial effects on all sectors in society including Higher Education (HE). In South Africa and beyond, HE has had to re-invent itself in a matter of weeks, even days to migrate the academic project to an online remote emergency teaching (RET) mode, to complete the year.
Somehow we were to become a kinder nation. So said our newly elected Prime Minister when she came into power in Aotearoa New Zealand in October, 2017. She was talking to a society that had allowed its base of relative equality to be transformed by a raft of rapid and brutal politico-economic changes from the early 1980s on.