It is almost two years since COVID-19 made us dramatically evaluate our normal academic practices and go online.
In the best-case scenarios, the teaching was halted for a couple of weeks to reboot. In extreme cases, lectures and tutorials had to be moved online within a few hours of scheduled classes. For a while, Twitter had been bursting with war stories from the frontlines. A quick search of #learningandteaching provides us with a glimpse of late nights, blurry eyes, and tired eardrums.
As an educational designer, operating in third space (with both academic and professional credentials), this has been an incredible change to witness from the inside. Week after week, my colleagues and I worked closely with academics on aspects of learning design that we never thought would be possible on such scale within such a short time.
There has been an incredible kindness amongst the learning and teaching community. People have opened their subject/course designs and shared their hopes and uncertainties for their teaching practice. Tips about teaching Zoom/ Microsoft Teams/ other video-based platform classes were regularly provided on social media. Free webinars and support trainings were offered globally. Stories from teaching sessions were shared, both successful and failed ones.
The most beautiful aspect was the sharing of a very vulnerable face of academics. In the tough competitive world, this side is often encouraged to be kept hidden. However, perhaps the susceptibility of life itself allowed us to show our exhausted, smiling, hangry, lost, and honest face.
Kids threw up on laptops; partners brought food and drinks, and might have occasionally done chicken dance in the background; a few people broke down during Zoom classrooms because they lost loved ones, attracting empathy and stirring emotions; some people were seen in their jammies; discussion about death and illness was de-tabooed; pets routinely made an appearance, sometimes as a cameo, other times as the lead participant; blatant racism was called out; internalised racism was reflected on; and empathy and sympathy was offered. COVID-19 also exposed injustices and inequalities within and at times, due to our educational systems.
There were those amongst us who wanted to keep talking about their high productivity. These individuals were universally considered as spawn of evil and shall not be discussed here.
A shout out to all the incredible educational technologists, curriculum designers, e-teaching advisers, pedagogy consultants and other third-space academics who literally held the hands of teaching staff and led them through a rather blind tunnel.