The Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education and Educational Technology – Part 1[Record]

  • Thierry Karsenti,
  • Bruno Poellhuber,
  • Normand Roy and
  • Simon Parent

…more information

As COVID-19 continues to ravage the world, UNESCO (2020a) reminds us that, at the peak of the crisis, school doors were closed to 1.6 billion students, from kindergarten to university. This represents 94% of the entire student population, in over 190 countries. Now that the second wave is rolling over us, schools are turning to remote learning once again. It seems that remote learning is here to stay, at least for the next several months. The terms we are hearing today (e.g., learning continuity, alternative modes, home schooling) speak to the pressing need to transform in-person teaching into digital delivery. Whether eagerly or fearfully, we have entered the unruly cosmos of remote learning. Admittedly, there are advantages for students, such as flexibility, but also obstacles to their motivation, engagement, and perseverance. Educators, for their part, will find it challenging to plan their lessons and monitor their students, and schools, colleges, and universities will be challenged by their educators’ lack of experience with online learning. In any case, remote learning is now front and center on the list of educational concerns for the foreseeable future. This is the time for researchers and educators to put their heads together to help higher learning institutions cope with the pandemic. Hence, in June 2020 the Revue internationale des technologies en pédagogie universitaire (RITPU) / International Journal of Technologies in Higher Education (IJTHE) launched a call for submissions concerning a thematic issue on postsecondary education during the pandemic. The journal normally publishes from 15 to 20 articles per year, but in response to this single call, we have received a record-breaking 110 submissions. We therefore decided to publish this issue as a series over the coming weeks, and possibly months, in accordance with the journal’s policies. Submitted articles should address postsecondary teaching and learning, and all articles will be subjected to a rigorous peer review before acceptance. Although the journal generally publishes empirical studies, it may also feature personal accounts and reflections, as long as they are based on the literature. Given the unprecedented crisis, we felt it important to include perspectives that shine a wider light on remote learning solutions across countries and postsecondary contexts. This thematic issue, as well as all upcoming ones that will bring to light the work of researchers interested in educational technologies in this new teaching context, will serve a vital function. It will document the research on remote solutions and present feedback and analysis, theoretical perspectives, and practical implementations. This pooled knowledge can be used to guide decisions as we journey through what promises to be a long and drawn-out emergency. We have accepted articles from some 30 countries from the four corners of the world, from Brazil to Canada, the Ivory Coast, France, Senegal, the United States, and the Kingdom of eSwatini (formerly Swaziland). This international assemblage is telling of the seismic and far-reaching extent of the disaster on higher education systems. Students, educators, administrators, and governments will find the topics meaningful and compelling. Hopefully, the breakneck changes forced by the pandemic will have long-term benefits for education, as Witze (2020) suggests in the Nature scientific journal. In fact, universities are swiftly reinventing their higher education offers in response. This special issue and several upcoming ones address the many challenges for postsecondary education during the pandemic. Moving to online teaching has become a central concern for universities everywhere. They have been making herculean efforts to adapt their courses for their professors and instructors in time for the next term. In addition, a recent EDUCAUSE survey shows that universities are going all out to improve the remote teaching …