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.
It is not an easy task to consider anything else at this moment of crisis but the pressure to convert relevant parts of the standard curriculum for online learning. This context cannot be ignored and may be an all-consuming task for many educators at traditional face to face universities.
My experience of COVID-19 began in late January just after the Lunar New Year celebrations, also the last time my extended family gathered for a meal. I am part of my university’s crisis response team - I focus on curricular and student matters. Through these three long months, it is somewhat of an understatement to say nothing has been certain.
Alone Together was written by Sherry Turkle (2011), a digital ethnographer, and explores how technology is helping to shape what it means to be human. It makes a rather one-sided claim that technology is replacing social interaction and human contact. Writing in the midst of an unprecedented world pandemic, nothing seems further from the truth. The need for social interaction is increasing and many of us are seeking ways to exploit technology to achieve this.