Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Flexibility With Work and Study in the Post-Pandemic University

Mark Carrigan writes of his experience of COVID-19 and "...how little the health of staff and students has figured in conversations about the post-pandemic university". I suggest universities should design work, research and study taking into account how staff and students will have times when they have to reduce their workload, for reasons of illness, disability, work, family or other issues. There should not need to be one off provisions for a pandemic. It should be part of the routine to be able to work or study from home, & at a lower intensity, when needed.

In 2008 I gave up giving conventional lectures, and moved my teaching online. https://blog.tomw.net.au/2008/08/my-last-lecture.html I then spent much of the time up to 2020 learning how to do this well. As part of this I stopped using examinations as a form of assessment. By late 2019 I had a reasonable idea how to teach this way, presenting a paper on how to blend and flip education (Worthington, 2019). Also I had floated the idea of fully online contingency in case of an emergency: https://portfolio.elab.athabascau.ca/user/tom-worthington/conclusion

One benifit of working and studying mostly online is greater flexibility. Due to my learning design, neither myself, nor my students, needed to be in a particular place at a particular time. I was able to work for and study at multiple institutions at the same time. After ten years this seemed routine, and I was taken aback in 2020 by colleagues shocked at the idea of suddenly having to work and teach online, asking if it worked and how to do it. While I helped them with a crash ad-hoc conversion, I was stuck by the idea that most of them thought of this as a temporary measure which could be abandoned as soon as the pandemic was over. I suggest universities need to set up for the new normal.


Worthington, T. (2019, December). Blend and flip for teaching communication skills to final year international computer science students. In 2019 IEEE International Conference on Engineering, Technology and Education (TALE) (pp. 1-5). IEEE.

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