The COVID-19 pandemic that began impacting college instructors and students in March 2020 was an unanticipated stress test that revealed higher education’s hidden weak points. Among other things, it exposed where resilience in procedures, policies, and course design were lacking, where students were economically vulnerable, and where racial inequities were papered over. The good news is that a stress test creates an opportunity to take a clear-eyed look at those weak points and design something better for a post-pandemic higher education. Lessons Learned: A Toolkit for Post-Pandemic Higher Education with Equity and Student Care at the Center is premised on the idea that colleges and universities shouldn’t let a good crisis go to waste. As we finalize this toolkit in July 2021, there is reason to hope the crisis is subsiding, a “return to normal” is near — in the United States, at least — and that the three pandemic semesters won’t be followed by a fourth. If the pandemic does in fact give way without a resurgence, higher education must use the experiences of the last year and a half as a basis for improvement — to identify what to stop, what to start, and what to extend and amplify beyond 2021.
Lessons Learned is made up of over 30 recommendations for improving practices in higher education. It asks where unexpected benefits showed themselves among the forced necessity of emergency remote teaching, and it encourages faculty, administrators, and academic and student support colleagues to continue collaborating to remove barriers, improve access, and update methods and tools. It optimistically asks where higher education can use the experience of the last three semesters to become more equitable and caring for Black, Latinx, Indigenous, poverty-affected, and first-generation students. Each lesson references and links to other more comprehensive resources, most of which were published by Every Learner Everywhere or one of its network partners. For a more complete discussion of the theory and practice related to each recommendation, the reader is encouraged to make full use of those previous publications.Download Lessons Learned