How is higher education adapting to the pandemic? Introducing #COVedStories

How did colleges and universities manage to shunt classes online in a hurry last spring? What are we doing in higher ed now to organize spring term during a still-roaring pandemic? What are our stories of educational transformation?

I’d like to announce a project aimed at gathering these accounts.  COVedStories encourages instructional designers and educational technologists to share what they went through, and what they are doing now, to carry campuses forward during an extraordinary time.  (The name is a mashup of COVID, education, and stories.)

Georgetown hallPart of Georgetown University’s Big Rethink (previously), #COVedStories begins this Friday with a first Twitter chat from 1-5 pm Eastern Time.  I’ll ask some questions to get you all started, and suspect conversation will flow organically.  Just follow the hashtag #COVedStories or look for my handle,

If you’d like us to cite your story in publications to come, please let us know here.  If you don’t use Twitter or would just like to reach us privately, email

The Big Rethink team, including faculty, students, and staff, is looking forward to learning from you all.  Come share your tales of institutional transformation!

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6 Responses to How is higher education adapting to the pandemic? Introducing #COVedStories

  1. Glen McGhee says:

    This question about higher ed adaptation is deeply rooted in the sociology of creativity that relies on Randall Collins sociology of knowledge, for example, his *Sociology of Philosophies* (1998).
    Per Collins, all intellectual life and creativity “hinges on face-to-face situations” that impact the distribution of emotion energy across intellectual networks (26, 379). “Energy stars” occupy the center of the networks.
    Covid-19 has shut down all the face-to-face interaction — does this mean intellectual creativity ceases? Also, how the material basis is impacted by Covid?

    • Glen McGhee says:

      Something similar here, but less insightful:
      From Jennifer Polk, PhD @FromPhDtoLife 11h
      When I interviewed a dozen academics worried about their future careers earlier this year, I learned that their stress re the job search keeps them from doing the creative and intellectual work they want to be doing — the work of grad school, of scholarship, of research.

    • Glen McGhee says:

      • Research disruptions were rampant: On average, institutions reported 67 percent of their STEM research was delayed or discontinued.
      • Institutions were unprepared for the shift to online education: Nearly one-half of institutions (48 percent) rated their institution’s technical capacity to provide online learning prior to the pandemic as only marginally or
      somewhat capable. Less than one in five institutions (18 percent) rated their institutions as fully capable of supporting online/distance learning prior to the onset of COVID-19.
      • Mentoring and advising suffered: Less than one-quarter (24 percent) of institutions reported they agreed that graduate students received consistent advising from graduate faculty during COVID-19, and even fewer (12
      percent) said they agreed that virtual advising was an adequate replacement for in-person contact.
      • Graduate deans expressed serious concern for the welfare of students: Students’ feelings of loneliness was the most frequently reported concern (37 percent), followed by other mental health concerns (33 percent), and
      physical health concerns (20 percent).

  2. Dahn Shaulis says:

    In 2021, US higher ed is becoming even more brutal. And now we have two potential enrollment cliffs: 2026 and 2038 as well as the potential for an economic downturn in the mid-2020s. Will there be progressive change? More transparency and accountability? Will there be a crackdown on subprime colleges? Free public higher education? Student loan forgiveness?

  3. Glen McGhee says:

    Disciplines themselves are under siege by Covid.
    Theology, for instance, loses its spirit without corporate expression, making closures of houses of worship for one or two years fatal for them. Music is corporate as well, and the degradation of skills is apparent to anyone observing the impact of Covid. Sports is nothing without spectators and high levels of participation. Any discipline that is not a solitary vice is losing in the battle with Covid.
    One question I have is, what will post-Covid look like from the disciplinary perspective? What disciplines will survive? What disciplines will fade away?

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