What Has COVID Ever Done for Us?
I am reminded of the line – ‘What have the Romans ever done for us? – Roads, transport, education, democracy, plumbing and sanitation – whimsical. Likewise, we can ask the same question about COVID. The negatives of course include deaths, illness, economic impact, and extremely low morale – nationwide. But so0me positives have resulted.
From a business perspective - in many ways COVID-19 was a catalyst for a digital revolution.
Business cards were replaced by a digital image – often a QR code. The power of the hard copy appears to have vanished. Efficient digital contracts with digital signatures have taken prominence in what was once a paper based activity. Hopefully we will not revert.
Working from Home (WFH) became a reality – essentially caused by necessity. The notion of completing tasks that did not involve actual F2F interaction with clients was able to be completed in the home office environment rather than trekking into high rise buildings to do the same. Efficiencies followed.
Working from Anywhere (WFA) also became an accepted reality. The notion of working while travelling – an absurd concept some years ago – is now seen as a viable option with benefits including travel, morale and cultural interface.
Video conferencing became a staple. We quickly learnt that maintaining quality levels of communication did not actually require everyone being in the same room. The economic reality, also, soon became apparent with a reduction in travel and accommodation costs. Hybrid meetings have become vogue – a mix of in person and online.
The great resignation – so called – came into being with scores of talent moving locations and professions. The odd tree change and sea change concepts developed into an opportunity to actually do things differently and often on a part-time basis.
From a higher education perspective – in many ways COVID-19 helped reshape our traditional thinking about teaching and learning.
Online learning was necessitated and provided a genuine, effective mode of delivery. My own institution witnessed student satisfaction levels perhaps even more positive than when we taught face to face.
Hybrid learning became the thing to do. The model allows the student to choose the mode – F2F or online (alternating as/if required). The blended learning variation provided a comfortable option that used the best of both modes. This particular mode was very well received and supported by my own institution’s domestic postgraduate market.
Assessment and feedback was in focus suggesting that new modes required a different approach to assessment in particular with a gradual shift away from formal examination regimes. Feedback became increasingly important.
Increased use of technology could be described as a by-product of the digital education revolution. eLibraries replaced hard copy environments; effective teaching and learning platforms were developed and utilised; and student surveying became electronic and highly efficient.
From a personal health perspective – COVID forced us into rethinking our behaviour and practices.
Heightened hygiene was established from the outset. Our focus on WHS has never been more pronounced than it is today either in the workplace or the learning environment with a particular emphasis on health care.
Personal reflection has also been heightened as individuals realise their own health and well-being is paramount and care needs to be taken both physically and mentally.
It is likely things will never be the same again – not necessarily a bad thing. Remember, always look on the bright side of life!
Emeritus Professor Greg Whateley is the Deputy Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer at Group Colleges Australia