Between streaming and shellac records, we had tapes, CDs, iTunes and piracy in the music industry. Necessary steps before finally ending-up with streaming. So, which is actually the Covid-19-times? Well, it´s not the final structure. It is more like the piracy-movement. Here is the reason why, and what it might lead to, already next year.
Suppose you were a teacher who a few months ago was told that the next day your classroom would be closed, but that you would still continue your teaching. How would you act?
You have limited time, no resources.
You would probably sign up all the students on a digital conference service, but otherwise continue, more or less, as before. You chose the simplest, cheapest, and fastest solution.
If we look at the development of Zoom, Teams and Google Classroom in recent months, what I described now is reasonably reasonable to assume: this is actually what has happened – even though no one really knows how the global world of education has acted under Covid-19 (I don´t believe we ever will get the whole picture…how would we get that?).
At this moment we at least seem to have become nearly obsessed with these tools.
But you could have done something completely different.
For example, you could have asked your students to sign up for any of these free MOOCs that already exist, and then concentrated on developing your own good exam process a few months ahead.
It would have been just as easy. No cost. It would also have bought you time. That time could, for example, have been used for developing a good digital exam.
Or, of course, you could have used that time in order to discover the whole, new, world of E-learning that has been developing just around the corner for several years now. Then your next course could have become something really “different”.
You probably didn’t choose the option I mentioned because you didn’t think of it as an option. You are probably used to doing teaching in a certain way, and when you were forced to become digital, so did you.
Don´t worry: most of us have a tendency of acting like that when things change. Teachers are not a different kind of spices than “normal” people.
But using Zoom does not mean that you started working with digital education.
On the other hand, what you probably did was difficult, and hard enough. So, my suggestion was not at all that you should have a bad conscience right now, on the contrary. Switching to Zoom-based teaching, in a short time and without any resources, in addition in almost the whole world, is definitely a big, and impressing, step – not to be forgotten.
I just wanted to put my finger on the difference between digitizing the teaching we have, and what digital education could be, will be – and in some cases, in fact, actually already are.
Of course, I do not know if many of the world’s teachers actually did what I suggested now. But the image I got, by taking advantage of all the media that is published on the theme, including really spending time hanging out on lots of all these chat rooms that exist, is that what I now proposed in any case does not seem particularly common.
What should we assume that you would then do when Covid-19 is over? Most likely; it depends on what conclusions you draw from the period that is right now (let us assume you will be allowed to decide by yourself, not everyone is).
If you find that the current situation is mostly a problem then you will go back to your old teaching methodology. If, on the other hand, you think that the current situation, after all, works pretty well, then maybe you will continue as you do right now, even after Covid-19.
After all, it can be nice to not have to go to work. And many students are likely to be grateful for not having to go to work. It could save both of you some money and time.
But in none of the cases has the education world fundamentally changed.
What I’m trying to say is that, what Covid-19 will leave behind, may not at all be as radical as one might think from many discussions that seem to be going on right now.
Unless we think about the customers/students of course…
But that never happened.
Furthermore, even before file sharing, we had a piracy movement, which neither fundamentally changed the music industry. Home taping ones became a big phenomenon, but not big enough to fundamentally change the music industry.
It wasn’t until we got streaming that the music industry fundamentally changed.
But: after all, it was an extremely important thing that file sharing left behind, which in turn became a prerequisite for streaming, later on, to develop.
File sharing taught customers that they could now start finding music online.
Today it is impossible to imagine that we could have streamed music without having had the file sharing-period just before.
It is not at all impossible that it is precisely this thing that, in fact, is Covid-19’s major “contribution” to the education world.
Although we can actually find out if that is the case, in only a little while. It can be measured in terms of measuring the number of students who actually will, or will not, return to the lectures after Covid-19 is over.
In some years, we probably will have some answers to a lot of this. But at this moment my own hypothesis is this: that even if you, as a teacher, will go back to work when Covid-19 is over, and continue as before, the attendance frequency of your lectures will go down. A lot.
And that, in itself, can be big enough. Because it can be a trigger for something even bigger.
But in order to see the final structure of the disrupted world of education we have to look beyond the Covid-19-period.