‘Hybrid learning works’ – Provost makes case for future-focused education

Universities have an opportunity to “rethink higher education for the long term,” writes Professor Ian Walmsley in the New York Times.

Imperial’s Provost argues that, while some online learning has been introduced to manage pandemic safety, universities can be more ambitious.

“At Imperial College London our experience over the past 18 months suggests an alternative future for pedagogy — one where in-person teaching is focused on the highest value interactions between teachers and student,” writes Professor Walmsley.

“The pandemic and lockdowns forced us to pivot fast. When students could not attend labs, we mailed hundreds of “lab in a box” kits to students worldwide. With travel restricted, our geoscience students took a virtual field trip to the Pyrenees. We conducted final medical exams online, allowing hundreds of new doctors to work on the frontline in public hospitals.”

Such initiatives have had a significant impact, as shown by Imperial’s exceptionally strong National Student Survey performance.

Professor Walmsley said: “Hybrid learning works. It costs serious money, but the potential impact — and wider reach — is thrilling. The pandemic has been devastating to the lives and livelihoods of millions. It has hit students hard. We owe it to them and to our communities not to waste this crisis. Universities must change to deliver an education fit for the future.”

The Provost’s letter can be read in full in today’s New York Times.

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