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January 04, 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic fosters adaptations and innovations

The Covid-19 pandemic fosters adaptations and innovations

Covid-19 has challenged universities when it comes to adapting to a “new normal.” Whilst some media outlets have talked about how universities have coped with online learning, few have addressed face-to-face learning. “Were some groups of students disproportionately affected? And are there effective teaching methods that can be deployed to minimize a reduction in learning?”, ask IZA World of Labor contributors George Orlov, Douglas McKee, and Tyler Ransom in their opinion piece.

At the Université de Sherbrooke in Canada one of the student and staff measures includes “setting up outdoor sheltered and amphitheatre-style learning environments.” The university was already looking into creating outdoor spaces that could be used for teaching but Covid-19 speeded up the testing. On the other hand, the Kerala Kalamandalam Deemed University for Art and Culture, one of India’s main centers for performing arts, has brought Koodiyattam and Kathakali online, in recognition that the pandemic can bring more innovations than disruptions.

Indeed, studies show that “outdoor learning environments should be used only when activities have an added value. In other words, not all courses have to be held there. They can be used in a complementary manner with indoor or online learning when they support the learning objectives.” When it comes to performing arts, such as “Koodiyattam—the 2,000-year-old ancient performing art of Kerala,” faculty members are now teaching intricate facial and hand expressions via Google Meet and WhatsApp.

Nevertheless, according to Orlov, McKee, and Ransom: “The ideal assessment to measure a change in student learning would be a standardized set of questions administered at the end of the pandemic-affected term and a previous unaffected term.”

Read George Orlov, Douglas McKee, and Tyler Ransom’s opinion piece Assessing the effect of online instruction on university students’ learning.