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Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day, and I’d like to start by expressing my personal thanks and gratitude for everything teachers do.
Just over a year ago, COVID-19 disrupted the educational journeys of 1.6 billion students around the globe and changed how we live, work, socialize, and learn. Today the world continues to navigate the economic, public health, and humanitarian challenges the pandemic caused.
The past year has been a time of unprecedented change, complexity, and ambiguity, and educators, students, and parents have had to embrace new ways of teaching and learning. Through it all, it’s been inspiring to see the incredible work the education community has done to keep students engaged.
Before COVID-19 disrupted the education journeys of more than 1.5 billion students around the world, higher education institutions were already exploring ways to grow enrollment, reach more students, and better engage the “digital natives” of Generation Z. Though the need to move online created challenges, it also inspired solutions that will have long-lasting effects on higher education. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), educators believe the pandemic has accelerated the evolution of virtual education by ten years. “We’ve been entering a new paradigm for the last decade and COVID-19 has just expedited this progress. It provided gasoline to trends that were already underway,” said Michael Horn, co-founder of Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
“Kindness comes in many different forms, including patience, forgiveness, and through simple acts that lead to positive connections.” — Christine McKee, Emerging Technology Consultant, Edmonton Catholic Schools, Alberta, Canada
As I write this, class may be in session—most likely online—for many schools and universities around the world. Over the past several months, how we teach and how we learn has been flipped upside down. Many teachers and faculty have been incorporating new tools into their lessons, often for the first time. And students are experiencing new methods of learning, which will have an important, lasting impact. With this transition, it has become clear that with the required physical distance between teachers and students, it’s more important than ever to help educators find ways to connect with students and keep them engaged, motivated, and safe in a digital world.