Analysis & Opinions - ArcticToday

How Our New Virtual World Can Empower the Arctic

| July 23, 2020

COVID-19 forced educators to innovate online in real time. The Arctic can benefit from the lessons we learned — even after this crisis is over.

Sighing deeply over coffee, my friend lamented that 2020 has so far been the "year of cancelation 'on all levels'" — from small birthday parties to global conferences. And while fully understanding the health aspects of each and every cancelation, she also wondered, when would we go back to normal? I had started nodding my head in agreement when I thought, is "back to normal" the best we can do?

The online interaction we have experienced due to in-person cancellations, empowered by software such as Zoom, have helped deliver the largest "living online exercise" ever undertaken. As in most sectors, participation in online higher education went through the roof. Here at Harvard Kennedy School, and in places around the world, the pandemic forced universities to develop online versions of their courses and recreate the classroom experience for thousands of students with just a few weeks'  notice. An online education experiment which had been under development for years — at the speed of a medium-size turtle — became the new norm in an instant because of the COVID-19 disruption.

The online results for higher education are still coming in but perhaps are not all too bad. This shift should indeed require us to think creatively: Do we want to go back to normal completely, or are there some aspects of learning that are improved by the new reality? Online university education is cheaper than having students and faculty travel across oceans to meet. It is more environmentally friendly than traveling for academic conferences or programs, and it decreases barriers to participation....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Logadóttir, Halla.“How Our New Virtual World Can Empower the Arctic.” ArcticToday, July 23, 2020.

The Author