We’re proud to present another new entry from our regular guest blogger, Dr. Laura Marulanda-Carter, to the Mirus blog!
Here, Dr. Marulanda-Carter PhD reflects on the growth of Remote Working – and how it may well shape the future of work and education.
Remote Teaching and Working – A Veiled Opportunity to Thrive?
Lockdown. A word that seemed quite unfamiliar only a few months ago, and yet now seems to have cajoled itself into every aspect of our lives. Let me start by saying that my thoughts go out to the victims and families that have been so painstakingly affected by Covid-19 and to the amazing NHS and social care teams who each day have put their own needs aside to keep the country safe.
As we look forward, the new ‘normal’ seems to have evolved from old unlike anything before, which less than three months ago we would have never quite imagined or had experience of.
In the education sector, there has never been such a seismic shift. The success and growth of Joe Wicks’ YouTube workout, a rise in online learning and a sweep of new technology have transformed the classroom. And while some speculate that there are only concerns in this ‘new environment’, I would challenge the notion of a ‘lost learning generation’ and welcome one that, unlike its predecessors since World War II, have never had such opportunity to develop and thrive.
I have seen a move to assessments that are practical instead of stress-induced exams; learners that interact with their teachers in new ways; and the on-going development of soft skills that have flourished as people learn to balance work, life and learning. If anything, I have seen more learners advance new ideas, be more creative at big picture thinking and have developed a welcomed appreciation for time management.
Technology, well - talk about a face-lift. It has now been harnessed to support the most vulnerable and has identified ways to personalise that will lay the foundation for better learning for all. Before lockdown, the roll-out of Microsoft Teams appeared to be a surface-level, luxury addition to the Office 365 suite: now, it sits as the heart of everything we do. It has neither limited nor reduced the networking that occurs between all our stakeholders – rather, it has accelerated growth, keeping many of us more than busy as we liken a more cost-effective, long-term solution in building our Institute of Technology. I can only agree that online education providers are here to stay.
Still, every time society evolves and we make real gains, there are always fundamental losses. As much as I welcome a new way of living and working, we cannot be blind to history and what we can call the ‘appendix-effect’. Charles Darwin considered the appendix a useless evolutionary artefact, mainly due to cultural changes as a result of an industrialised society (i.e. we as humans stopped eating ‘dirty’ food and our stomachs worked better as a result).
Similarly, we can reflect on many skills that have been lost over the generation due to their lack of use – such as navigating with a map and compass, memorising phone numbers, mental arithmetic, starting a fire without matches, etc. To the delight of some appendix-loving scientists though, there was a well-documented review only a decade ago, proving the appendix was no longer an inferior organ and was actually a safe haven where good bacteria could hang out. Extending this analogy further, how many skills do we lose, before they valiantly return as essential?
At the core it would be fair to assume that adaptability, being creative and flexible in the face of uncertainty and letting go of the need to plan will sometimes be essential when navigating the post-lockdown uncertainty. But how many of us have truly practised this skill and way of thinking during a pre-lockdown era of relative safety, satisfaction and growth? Furthermore, what does post-lockdown look like for families and work habits – will we miss time spent at home and will flexi-working become the norm? What will organisations do with the disused office spaces and how, if we haven’t already, will we consider safe, secure working from home?
The new ‘normal’ has much to take stock and reflect for us all.
- Dr Laura Marulanda-Carter, PhD
Laura works at Milton Keynes College as the Head of Curriculum IoT. With 10 years of teaching experience and as a strong advocate of employer engagement and women in technology, we're very excited to be working together.
You can read more about Laura, and read her other Mirus Blog Contributions here.
*Stats from mid June 2019
We’re looking forward to sharing more of Laura's unique and discerning insights into IT, IoT and Security.
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