About this Research Topic
The COVID-19 pandemic brought extraordinary disruption to the higher education (HE) landscape, with campuses closing everywhere seemingly overnight. The speed with which faculty were making the (forced) shift to remote teaching was astounding and unparalleled, and complicated by the fact that such “emergency remote teaching” in response to a crisis bears little resemblance to deliberately-designed online teaching and learning. In the chaos of this unified response for keeping universities running, moments of inspirational cooperation and accord were happening in the way the international academic community supported one another—communicating through online networks, asking for advice, and sharing knowledge.
Faculty had little time to process the abrupt changes affecting their professional and personal lives. Professionally, they had to transform face-to-face classes into forms involving online delivery and assessment; ‘learning on-the-fly’ using novel technologies, finding new ways to support and inspire students’ learning, while operating remotely from their homes. Personally, while coping with becoming house-bound and concerned about the health of their families and selves, faculty had to become schoolteachers for their children; with some forced to take pay cuts or be furloughed.
Students had similar personal concerns about their health and loved ones, but were also adjusting to changes in their HE experiences, sometimes including fundamental shifts in their living arrangements such as being despatched from campus dwellings back to family homes; with some international students prevented doing so by travel bans. Even senior HE managers, fearing long-term economic consequences, were uncertain about meeting institutional obligations to students. The crisis, and ensuing panic, appeared managed in the immediate term, but fundamental questions remain about the future and about the past: What are the costs of the short-term responses for students and faculty? What will the HE landscape look like in the aftermath of COVID-19 (e.g. recruitment, viability, closures etc.)? What does the experience tell us about our values in HE, or reveal about our priorities and vulnerabilities? And where might we look for hope and direction?
This Research Topic seeks to capture the myriad impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the international HE landscape, by providing opportunity for the international academic community to pause and reflect on what has transpired, and prepare for the future, perhaps even a “new normal”. Many found themselves less affected by the pandemic, and more affected by the lockdown and ensuing isolation. One of our main goals is to understand how the lockdown affected students (at home or abroad), faculty and HE institutions. This could include effects on mental health, relationships, livelihoods, choices about studying abroad, etc.
Socially-isolating faculty everywhere were required to make fundamental changes to their teaching delivery and assessment. This involved multiple challenges for faculty, students, and HE managers, in terms of grappling with new technology, support, leadership, the pragmatics of achieving this with everyone in their own ‘bubbles’, and more. It is important to hear about those challenges, and how were they experienced.
It is also important to explore what the medium and long-term consequences may be for HE. What might be the costs and consequences of the closures? In the aftermath of COVID-19, what might the future hold for HE and what will be the “new normal”? What does the current crisis mean for programmes and institutions; international study; professional training; qualifications and career planning; research; new technologies, etc. And what does it tell us about what we value and care about in HE? This Topic will be a valuable scholarly exploration of an exceptional world event. It will also serve as a resource for all academics, and a cathartic response to a shared crisis/panic.
Under the overarching theme of impacts of the COVID-19 lockdown and move to remote online teaching and learning—on faculty, students and HE institutions—we welcome the broadest spectrum of voices in higher education. We aim to be inclusive and encourage manuscripts from the perspectives of faculty, students, and managers related to the following themes:
(1) Higher Education Delivery - e.g. challenges of emergency remote teaching; technology and remote delivery; assessment limitations arising from online formats; learning curves of faculty and students; costs to institutions; etc.
(2) Lives and Livelihoods - e.g. impact of isolation, loneliness, and mental health; losses (of support networks, income, and bereavements due to COVID-19); family commitments and juggling multiple roles; working from home; technology and physical spaces; etc.; and
(3) Reflections on Past and into the Future - e.g. what will be the “new normal” in HE? What values, vulnerabilities, priorities, and opportunities have been revealed in the crisis and our varied responses? Where might we find hope? Areas of possible inquiry in these regards are: re-ordering of values and priorities in HE; realigning relations between teaching, research and service; emerging economic depression and university closures; recruitment; study abroad; internationalization; etc.
We welcome contributions that provide:
• Original research, including case studies;
• Reviews and commentaries that produce novel insights; and apply or extend established techniques and/or theoretical perspectives;
• Reflective essays, opinion pieces and viewpoints.
***Due to the exceptional nature of the COVID-19 situation, Frontiers is waiving all article publishing charges for COVID-19 related research.***
Keywords: COVID-19, higher education, student experience, remote delivery, on-line teaching and learning, higher education leadership
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.