Although we are thankfully entering our second semester of in-person learning after over a year of attending classes remotely, we still live in a world facing the aftereffects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
New variants of COVID are still making their way through the population, and we now live in a world that will never be the same again. As we move forward, it would be a mistake to throw away the lessons we learned during the past couple years.
During the COVID pandemic, we spent a large amount of time on remote platforms such as Zoom and WebEx to take classes. Although many of us are eager and excited to be back in person, we should not neglect the potentially positive new technological tools we have gained throughout the past couple years.
Even as we continue in person, colleges should continue to use remote learning as a permanent option to assist students who cannot make it to in-person classes.
While taking classes online, students, professors and schools learned how to use remote learning tools. We learned how to schedule Zoom meetings, share screens and communicate more successfully online. Although remote learning was an unfortunate turn of events, we should use what we did learn from that time to our advantage.
COVID served as a wake-up call that life can become unpredictable and change quickly. Life happens. Sudden issues arise. Illnesses — COVID or otherwise — hit. If we search for a silver lining, the pandemic should have, at the very least, made us realize that we should try to work with others and show them grace in the case of sudden absences. In this new world, schools must be prepared to offer easy alternatives to in-person learning.
In-person learning and remote learning do not have to remain two isolated entities. In fact, they should not. Since 2020, everyone has asked us to be flexible. At any moment, an event or activity could be cancelled. As students, we have had to adapt. Now, it is time for colleges to adapt for us.
During the pandemic, schools told us we have to be ready at any moment for them to go online. Now, they have to be ready for us to go online. Things will still go wrong in daily life, but now, because of the pandemic, schools can provide alternatives that we did not use on a wide scale before.
Through the pandemic and the process of making technologies such as Zoom more mainstream, we have discovered an answer to the difficulty of being unable to attend a class or meeting. Now, we can still be present, even when we cannot physically be somewhere.
Technology aims to make lives easier. Now that we have experience with remote learning, we can use that technology to make students’ lives easier. So why wouldn’t we?