With the COVID-19 pandemic beginning in the spring of 2020, educators had to learn quickly how to adapt to virtual learning in a world that quickly became isolated. As teachers and students alike learned to acclimatize to the new online environment, realization on the lacking access to virtual, pedagogical resources was immediate. Adjustments began immediately with some educators just transferring their in-person strategies to Zoom by sharing a presentation and lecturing per usual. A variety of educators did not have this easy transition as an option.
Courses with hands-on experiences, such as laboratory components, struggled to adjust to the rapid change of distance learning. The beginning of the pandemic was a reactionary period, figure out a way to remotely teach, and quick. Immediately, issues surrounding inequity of access to computers, reliable internet access, living dynamics, and a work-family balance became painfully apparent.
At almost the two year mark since the beginning of lockdowns in the United States, many have not only adapted to remote pedagogical strategies, but the expectation of virtual pedagogical tools has grown. Over the past two years, educators and researchers have understood the need for more online resources and have vigorously responded. At Michigan State University, while the majority of courses were taught in person again this past fall, the beginning of this spring semester began with a minimal notice, quick shift back to virtual learning for three weeks. Professors were not necessarily teaching the same courses they adapted last year when teaching virtually and again began a scramble to figure out how to adjust.
Unfortunately, we are not out of the pandemic and spikes that cause these quick transitions may be a part of our future as educators. It is important, even whenever the end of the pandemic is sight, to continue to build online resources, create virtual courses to be prepped and ready for a rapid switch, and to continue researching best pedagogical practices when distance learning. Learning not only how to transition content online, but scholarship that aims to understand how students learn best when outside of the classroom needs to continue to grow. Many influences, outside of a global pandemic, influence the issues surrounding inequity in education that was discussed earlier. We have learned that, even being completely unprepared for quick transitions, remote teaching and learning is possible; with continued research and improvements, these pedagogical pathways may be the future to flexible, accommodating education.