Who would have thought that the turn of a new decade would mark a dark, long chapter in everyone’s life? Covid-19 has turned the world almost upside down, in and out. On a regular day, we don’t see an empty highway, a deserted public building, nor do we hear birds chirping in the morning without the sound of vehicles or some sort of outdoor human activities. As a Taylorian, I dare say we’ve never experienced a campus as ghostly quiet as it is now. Every education institution has had to shut its doors to teaching and learning activities, no thanks to the temporary reign of this terrifying virus. Change came by force and necessity for our own good – for the sake of our lives. What then do we do? We adapted. That is the one, powerful weapon that humankind has and has mastered. And so, we change the way we work.
Traditionally, teaching requires the teacher to be with the student in person to guide, to consult, to advise and to work with. Handicapped by the closure of campuses and the need for physical distancing, all educators resorted to online teaching and learning. It is the only option but one that creates new definitions and meanings; and opens new dimensions. One could suggest that remote teaching was the only alternative educators have, given the dire situation, but with the array of online teaching tools available, educators have never been so creative in the delivery of their modules.
While we cannot deny that learning could be more dynamic when on campus, there are students who find learning online engaging, maybe because it is a platform they were already familiar with, and that they gave them time to digest the lessons within their own comfortable space. Pre-recorded lectures and recorded class discussions allowed them to internalise and make meaning of what will be as well as what was taught. However, truth be told, not everything is so positive. There are countless cases where lecturers and students alike faced mental stress and a dead end due to the lack of human interaction despite “face-to-face” online classes. Even the copious efforts offered by various organisations to de-stress oneself are conducted online!
Just as we are getting comfortable and used to this mode, the pandemic situation is showing some signs of improvement, with vaccines in place and the immunisation programme to be carried out soon. With teaching and learning activities slowly resuming on campus, we may once again experience the buzzing energy and spark we were so familiar with. But, what kind of new regulations we will have to follow since there is still uncertainty brought on by this wretched Covid-19? Some would miss remote teaching, which was alien to them in the beginning. What, then, would be our new challenges in the new norm?
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” ~ Rumi.