The current state of emergency has turned everything upside down, including the teaching in higher education. In just a few days, most of the teaching was turned into remote learning via the internet in one way or another, with several different methods of studying. Everyone, both teaching staff and students, have had to be flexible.
However, even though the pandemic has created many challenges, its effects have not only been negative. I have heard from some people I know that they are actually getting through their studies faster when the teaching and assignments have been moved to various learning platforms and they are able to study without being tied to a specific time or place. Many people have been happy about the digital leap that the coronavirus has caused, while for example Ville Saarikoski criticised its success in his letter to the editor of Helsingin Sanomat (HS 21.4.2020). The digitisation has not been without its problems, as some studies have not been offered remotely.
I think Ville Saarikoski summarises the challenging situation well in his letter. Coping in a crisis does not happen using the same solutions as coping with long-term change. Even though some digitisation has taken place, we still face many real question marks and challenges to solve. How can we use different learning platforms in the best way possible, how can we solve issues relating to, for instance, staff members’ working hours, work planning, and copyright, and how can we guarantee that the solutions we use are as accessible as possible for all students?
Whether the solutions are successful or not, once the pandemic has calmed down it is important that we pause and consider the choices that have been made. We can learn from them and use them to make the studies of the future more logical, seamless, and flexible. At this stage I already want to thank every part of the university community who have adapted to the current situation and taken part in the changes. I particularly want to encourage everyone to get involved in the future development of learning and teaching, so that everyone’s voice will be heard and we can learn as much as possible from this experience!