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Electronic Education: One Step Further

Illustration of a bird using the computer with the words

I lost my job in higher education to COVID 19. I’m enthused by the possibilities! Abnormal reaction? Let me explain. I’ve had a twenty-year career in higher education, most recently working in business development for data services. My most recent position was exciting and a valuable experience but focused almost entirely on universities recruiting international students and increasing global reputation. During a crisis, these are not priorities.

I love working in higher education as I believe in our university’s ability to transform lives through the power of education. Universities provide enormous good to the global community through research and discoveries.

Over the years that I have worked in higher education, I’ve heard thought leaders tout the possibilities of lifelong learning, online education, closing the achievement gap, and harnessing predictive analytics. In the past, universities, which tend to be slow moving ships, have had the luxury of dabbling in these experimental enterprises.

COVID 19 isn’t just a catalyst for change, it is a “do or die” moment for higher education. Instead of letting professors with interest in online learning teach a course or two, overnight there was a mandate to make it happen. Many technology companies stepped up to the plate to meet the universities at this crucial juncture like Zoom, Adobe, Microsoft, Oracle, and so on. These companies offer fantastic tools that can transform the online experience, but they need an overarching vision and infrastructure that I am hopeful will come out of this crisis.

With nearly 17 million people out of work and many of those jobs never to return, our colleges and universities must prepare the workforce for a post COVID 19 economy. If there ever was a time to implement lifelong learning, this is it! Is this a subscription model? Is it online training certificate programs for COVID 19 testers and tracers? There must be options for blue and white collar workers. This is the time to move beyond experimentation!

Until we provide all students with internet access and personal computing, the achievement gap widens. Universities and industry must step up to the plate to provide all students with resources. Once in place, predictive analytics are a proven tool to recognize struggling students putting them on the path to success at just the right moment. At this time, we cannot let students fall through the cracks. This crisis will not be short-lived, so we cannot be shortsighted and only create stop gap measures.

I am concerned about my current career predicament, but I am extremely excited to see our universities and technology partners step up to the plate and hit it out of the park. A new dawn in education is coming and, frankly, it’s overdue. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves!


— Terra Schultz, Student