The pace of change in instructional delivery in higher education is advancing at an increasingly rapid rate. The technical education component of higher education is no exception. The COVID-19 pandemic is the largest catalyst to change the pace since the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957, and the most obvious piece of evidence of this change has created a new normal for higher education; a swift increase in online instruction.
Participatory teaching pedagogy is the major strength of the old normal. This method of teaching required faculty to demonstrate their subject matter knowledge. Students were required to observe, practice, and eventually demonstrate competency mastery. Learning was more often tactile with the old model. The practical purpose of instruction was apparent and because of the hands-on face-to-face time, students were likely to understand both what they learned and why they learned it. How to accomplish a task was often taught simultaneously with or prior to why a concept was taught. Faculty were closely connected to students during the learning process and students were urged to share with and learn from each other.
The creation of the new normal must embrace a high level of student participation. Course delivery will need to allow for students to continue to interact with faculty who demonstrate mastery of the subject matter. An emphasis on how students can continue to interact with and learn from each other is a must. With this new normal, students will be invited to appropriate locations to practice and to show mastery of the skills needed, complete coursework, and eventually graduate. Hybrid courses that blend the old and new normal methods of instruction will be offered. Much thought is being given to the delivery of instruction in lab intensive programs. Each course must be and will be redeveloped to ensure that employers are confident that the graduates are ready to contribute with the same superior skill level as before.
Students will be invited to campus for essential instruction with appropriate safety precautions, including social distancing. By the end of the fall 2020 term, each program will be able to deliver all instruction either online or in a hybrid format and with our standard high quality. I’m confident that the Albany Technical College faculty is up to the task.
The faculty and staff of Albany Technical College are preparing for the new normal of instructional delivery. We look forward to the new normal of instructional delivery and a successful fall 2020 term. We embrace the new pace of change and are looking forward to a successful fall 2020 term.