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This Chaotic Time Will Pass, Leaving a Crop of "New Learning"

By Michael Atkinson |


"Today is the day after the U.S. election and it is a close one, perhaps closer than some thought it'd be. I think it's a good idea to remember that close elections are not all that infrequent, and can even feel pretty turbulent. Anyone remember the hanging chads in 2000? Let's remind ourselves to take some deep breaths and practice healthy self-care during these days of uncertainty. Politicians come and go, economic cycles come and go, the pandemic that's come will, indeed, go (along with all of 2020, good riddance).

As I, too, patiently wait for some of this to pass, I'm encouraged by some positive change I'm seeing in learning. As a somewhat monolithic system,  education is famous for progressing at a painfully glacial-slow rate. Yet the difficulty of so many students forced online this year is planting the seeds of progress that even now are already quickly sending out shoots of progress. 

I've been speaking with faculty who are teaching online for the first time, and some are connecting with students in new meaningful ways, and learning about a new world of analytics that can potentially inform and improve their practice. 

I see students who are learning in new ways that honor their individual circumstances, as technology helps them study where, when, and how it suits them better. 

And I'm hearing about interesting new technologies that are being invented from necessity, such as this Zoom alternative focused on improving learning.

Some of this at-scale experimentation is going to stick. And that sort of rapid progress, in an area that transforms lives, is something to really celebrate. No doubt there remains an abundance of difficulties. It can be difficult teaching and learning online, especially when we're all thrown in so quickly and may not have adequate resources. There are serious concerns about equity. 


But like the uncertainty around the election, this chaotic time will pass. And we'll be left with a crop of new learning technology inventions, methods, adopters, and progress in creating solutions that make learning more effective, engaging, and equitable. And that's something to really look forward to."


Michael Atkinson

Chief Learning Officer

Construct