Until some indeterminate date, all of our academic work will take place on our computers.
Think about that for a second.
For those of us higher ed people who are working full-time at home due to COVID-19 restrictions on coming to campus, all of our work will be digital.
Not everything will go through our laptops (or most of us) or desktops (for a few of you). Some of us will do teaching, meeting, communicating, writing, grading and reading on a tablet or a phone.
Most of us, however, will be on Zoom and Canvas and Slack (or whatever your platforms happen to be) on our computers.
Never before have the pieces that make up our education enabling technologies been so important. Every link in the digital chain seems vital.
We all need our internet connections to work. Our reliance on our ISPs to keep our higher ed work going is worrisome. Will your bandwidth be able to keep up with the demands of everyone in your house streaming video while you are trying to meet or teach on Zoom?
Our staff and faculty internet worries seem small when stacked up against what could go wrong Wi-Fi-wise for our students. How many of our students live in places without good broadband options?
I doubt that these options will be nearly enough for students facing multiple social, family and economic challenges in continuing their educations via online learning. The public Wi-Fi hotspots that many students were planning to use will go dark with the closure of libraries, cafes and other public or semipublic places.
Beyond potential internet connectivity issues, how resilient will the technologies that we rely on to work and learn remotely prove to be?
When it comes to online learning, there are multiple potential failure points. A computer virus, or a dropped laptop, can knock a professor or a staff member or student off-line.
As class sessions and team meetings move to Zoom (or other web meeting platforms), a misbehaving webcam or a dodgy microphone can play havoc with communications.
Some changes for total higher ed remote teaching and administrative work are in our favor. Smartphones can substitute for laptops for web meetings and communications. I’ll be fascinated to see the effect that COVID-19 and the move to all-remote learning will have on mobile LMS use.
How will campus technology professionals support a population of students, faculty and staff that are now entirely remote?
What will the next few weeks (or months?) feel like when the only way we collaborate and interact with our students is through screens?
Will we learn that our digital tools and methods for teaching, learning and collaborating virtually are more robust and resilient than we had expected?
Or will the next few weeks (or months) deepen educational divides between those with resources and those without?
How have you set yourself up with technology to do your higher ed job from home?
What are you most worried about in this sudden and complete shift to remote work and education?