Reflecting on Pandemic Teaching

While I am a distance learning professional and I spend most of my time working at a computer and encouraging educators to use computers, I am an educator before I am a technologist. Teaching decisions must be made to benefit students. For much of my career, it has been easy for many individual educators to reject all technology-based and distance learning options categorically. They were justified in reasoning they could teach what they needed without technology and the tools were too difficult to use. The dominant lesson that educators should take from the teaching during a pandemic is that a future of education without robust and high-quality online components is not an option. The affordances of technology can be leveraged for many educationally relevant purposes, but this requires purposeful planning and collaborative design.

The second dominant lesson that educators should take from pandemic teaching is that we cannot predict the future. We do not know the teaching situations we will find ourselves working in (even on the scale of months); we cannot know the problems and situations in which our students will find themselves. One thing we can know with certainty is that teachers must be flexible and adaptable in their craft. Another thing we know is that students must be flexible and adaptable with their knowledge as well.

I appreciate the irony in my prediction that online learning will play a prominent role in the unpredictable future of education.  If teachers make no prediction about their future, the they have nothing to teach and we will all be assured their students will be unprepared for any future. Making predictions as a teacher is not problematic; believing we know exactly what students will need, and basing those beliefs on our own past experience is problematic.