The novel coronavirus pandemic has disrupted entire sectors of the American economy, but now, as students and faculty settle into distance learning, technology leaders are questioning what it could mean for the future of education.
“I think we would be remiss to try to go back to what we used to do,” Karen Fuller, the director of network infrastructure and communications at Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District in Harris County, Texas, says on a new episode of the EdScoop Edition podcast. “We’ve discovered that we can do things different. I think we’re learning that we don’t have to have that much control. We’ve just got to be able to provide the resources, provide abilities to ask and answer questions to get feedback back from students.”
Fuller, who oversees the network infrastructure for the Houston-area district with more than 116,000 students, says there will need to be some adjustments along the way, but that the coronavirus pandemic response could establish a baseline for what the future of education can be.
“There’s going to be some refining that we’re going to have to put in place, but we’re really going to start seeing a different way of thinking of how we can deliver instruction and resources for students to continue to learn,” Fuller says.
Paige Francis, the chief information officer for the University of Tulsa, says that she and her staff are already preparing for a higher education structure that is drastically different than the one students experienced when they started the 2020 spring semester.
“From an IT perspective, right now at TU, I’m envisioning a future that does look and feel different than it is right now,” Francis says. “Our primary role is going to be facilitating the delivery of teaching, how students consume the learning and ensuring an equal experience for all. I think that’s our biggest challenge.”
The conversation between Fuller and Francis was originally scheduled to take place at the now-canceled SXSW EDU conference in Austin, Texas. The event was canceled due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
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The EdScoop Edition podcast is broken down into segments. Here’s what you’ll find on this episode:
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EdScoop Edition is a podcast with conversations, news and analysis of the role of edtech and IT in higher education. Each episode features at least one long-form conversation, a quick digest of the news in the higher education information technology environment and a conversation with a higher ed CIO.