Disruptions in higher education, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the advent of advanced technologies like ChatGPT, have catalysed a renewed focus on conversations and creativity among higher education staff. These disruptions have prompted educators to reconsider their pedagogy, curriculum, and assessment and have opened up new opportunities for collaboration and innovation across departments and functional areas.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced universities to adapt to new modes of teaching and learning. The sudden shift to remote and hybrid formats brought to light both the strengths and weaknesses of existing approaches to education. Educators had to quickly adapt to new technologies and learn, often from each other, how to engage students in virtual environments. This required a new level of creativity and flexibility, as well as a willingness to experiment with new pedagogical strategies.
In 2023, ChatGPT again offers an opportunity to obtain insights and reflections from educators, providing them with novel contexts to think critically and creatively about learning and teaching, and allowing them to share their experiences and learn from one another.
One of the most exciting aspects of these disruptions is the way they are fostering greater experimentation in approaches to teaching and learning, while at the same time an opportunity to pause, reflect and share.
So often we focus on the future of higher education and the possible futures of our students in emergent worlds of work. A sense of purpose for the future is certainly important in motivating students to engage in activities perceived to be instrumental in achieving valued future outcomes.
There is, however, a danger of weaponising the future for students, with an excessive focus on academic milestones, leaving students unprepared for their own futures when they graduate.
Can we also leverage disruptions to create learning environments for ourselves and our students that value and attend to the present moment, and shape the way we teach and learn to educate for our present selves?
As Maria Popova has noted: “the flower doesn’t go from bud to blossom in one spritely burst and yet, as a culture, we’re often disinterested in the tedium of the blossoming. But that’s where the real magic unfolds.”
Academic Director, Quality and Learning and Teaching Futures – RMIT University