Master of Education

Envisioning the Residue of COVID-19’s Impact on the North American Educational System After the Cure

Joseph Lathan, PhD

Joseph Lathan, PhD

Academic Director, Master of Education

Residue: Something that remains after a part is removed, disposed of, or used (remnant).

Question:

What will be the lasting technological implications and social impact from the COVID-19 virus in the North American Educational System after the cure?

Summary:

On January 20, 2020, a 35-year-old man who had returned from Wuhan, China, was diagnosed with the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the U.S. As of Sept. 17, 2020, there were over 6,613,000 cases and over 196,000 deaths due to the COVID-19 coronavirus in the U.S. The reports continued to grow as many U.S. cities experienced a heightened spread of the virus (CDC, 2020).

The response to this pandemic in the U.S. has impacted every American in one way or another. The U.S. government and a number of states instituted mandates to “Stay at Home” and practice “social distancing,” which has prohibited large-scale gatherings, including the closure of businesses, churches, schools, and other educational institutions, the cancellation of trade shows, conventions, and music festivals, and the cancellation and suspension of sporting events and leagues.

Learning from the experiences of other countries impacted by the COVID-19 virus, the U.S is currently fighting to avoid a crash not only in its health care system due to overload, but also in its financial system, with the largest stimulus package in American history of $2 trillion dollars already passed by the U.S. government.

The implications of the virus have impacted large and small corporations, for-profit and non-profit businesses and the response has created an increased reliance on technology. The restrictions preventing employees to “Work from Home” have now reversed, with business and educational institutions turning to more online and video-conferencing platforms to continue daily operations.

The COVID-19 virus forced the U.S. to rethink how the nation does business, become educated, worship in churches and how to socialize, even with our closest friends and loved ones. People not in favor of online/digital technology and platforms (Online Skeptics), are now faced with the reality of strategizing a technological plan to keep their doors open or to remain in business.

The New York Times reports that Wuhan, China, was the first city/country to experience a spread of this virus, but the area is now seeing infection rates decrease along with no new cases of the virus for the first time since the city went under a complete lockdown on Jan. 23. Despite these alarming numbers and threat in the U.S., President Donald J. Trump is optimistic that business will return to usual in the immediate future, while health officials warn that this may be a premature expectation.

If the successful management of the virus in China continues, the New York Times reports that Chinese health and police officials may remove the “lockdown” mandate, allowing residents to resume daily activity. Although it is predicted that things in the U.S will get worse before it gets better, it is promising that the physical symptoms of the virus may impose less of a threat thanks to learnings from China, but what will be the lasting implications left behind by the virus?

The threat and subsequent response to COVID-19-impacted U.S education systems, and the resulting changes may very well become the “new norm.” The saving grace for most K-12 public and private schools, colleges and universities was the turn toward technology, where online education/remote learning could be viewed as a godsend.

We have limited knowledge in predicting the lasting technological trends and social implications caused by the virus when it is no longer a physical threat. Nonetheless, here are some questions to ponder what the “New Normal” could look like:

Possible Predictions & Implications

Education Systems (Schools and Colleges):

For many, online education has been considered secondary to in-class education, and there are studies that exist to confirm and refute that argument. Nonetheless, COVID-19 forced many schools and universities to quickly get up to speed on online teaching, learn best practices and course development, and employ synchronous tools to keep education moving forward.

 

  • Is it possible that students, teachers, K-12 schools and colleges who once were skeptical, will employ more online curriculum and practices after having had the opportunity to experience this form of learning?

 

  • While physical classroom attendance in colleges and universities has not seen any significant growth and perhaps even a decline over the last several years, virtual classrooms have either increased or remained steady. Will there be even a larger shift or increase of the virtual classroom and a continual decline of the physical classroom?

 

  • Now that parents have been forced into a greater involvement in their children’s daily educational learning experience, will this persuade more parents to become teachers? Will we see a rise in homeschooling?

 

  • Although much research exists on the benefits of education practices such as flipped-classrooms, low-stakes grading, and competency-based learning, the state accrediting agencies and boards are challenged with how to maintain standardization or meet learning outcomes in a virtual format. Will the scramble to rethink how we grade and assess students continue to employ “out-of-the-box” thinking and promote education reform?

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