We all are reading about concerns of educationalists for K-12 schools about the disruption of education post-COVID-19. Many school districts implemented remote learning platforms without much planning of curricular conversion and online lesson planning. Others had bought into commercial platforms that were not designed for the load that the districts imposed on them but experienced repeated crashes, threatening effectiveness. There are other school districts that completely stopped their activities. For some, the learning that survived was from home schooling by parents already stressed by job insecurity and/or adaptive pressures of teleworking. Longitudinal studies of educational benefits document the long-run negative impact on cohorts of students when such disruption occurs.
Higher education was subjected to similar disruptions, but was apparently better suited to the adaptation. The host university platforms across universities and their private sector cloud service providers seemed to perform tolerably well. The stark variation across students in the home environments and the large geographical spread, however, intruded in the performance of virtual learning. Some students live in quiet environments, permitting focused attention to their studies. Other students live in dense, noisy environments, and struggled to avoid distractions.
COVID-19 affected more than the delivery of educational services to K-12 and higher education. It also did great damage to university students’ prospects of having a meaningful internship experience over the summer. Internships are often legitimate “experience-based” learning opportunities. When chosen to be relevant to the studies of the student, they provide students a chance to apply abstract knowledge to practical affairs. This is great practice for the post-graduation life.
Other students had planned study abroad experiences, many to increase their skills in another language, helpful for their career plans. These plans were ruined by COVID-19.
Knowing these disruptions in summer plans, we increased the amount of scholarship support for our undergraduate students for summer credit-bearing courses. We thought that, if the students couldn’t pursue internships, they could use their time to advance their academic progress. We also added new courses, to serve the needs of students, especially a new set of language courses.
We, of course, needed to move all the on-campus teaching in the summer to online experiences. The staff at the School of Continuing Studies once again displayed magical adaptability. But, we were somewhat worried that the students might be fatigued from online courses, but that was the only choice possible.
To our delight, we have seen unusually high demand for courses among the undergraduate students. There will more Georgetown students enrolled in Summer at Georgetown than we expected. We’re happy to serve their needs and wish both instructors and students all the best for their joint work over the next few months.