What COVID-19 has changed permanently in academia

Eva Lantsoght
5 mei ’22

As we are slowly coming out of a global pandemic that held the world in its grip for over two years, we can look at ways in which COVID-19 has changed academia and how the pandemic will have a lasting impact on academia. Of course, I have to add here that these are only my best guesses on how we will move forward…

1. Conferences

Over these past two years, we’ve seen how conferences went fully virtual, then returned to be sometimes full in-person, only to offer hybrid options at the last minute or even the next year. We’ve learned that there’s no need to spend so much carbon on flying out to far-flung places all the time, and that we can very well participate in a virtual way in conferences.

2. Meetings

The same is true for meetings – even if we’d only need to drive half an hour to the place of the meeting, we now are more likely to hop on to a Zoom call with everyone involved, instead of going back and forth for a single meeting. When it comes to international meetings, it has also become much more common to hold the meeting online instead.

3. International collaboration

In the past, setting up a collaboration with an international colleague perhaps required at least an introductory in-person visit to their university. With travel much reduced due to COVID-19, an introductory virtual meeting may be sufficient to set up a lasting collaboration.

4. Teaching

Even when we will return to teaching in-person completely, a lot of the online tools will stay with us. We can use our Mentimeters, our videos, and our online games to add virtual elements of interaction in class, in addition to other in-person learning activities.

5. Supervision

Just like meetings don’t require everyone to be in the same room anymore, we also know that supervision now can take place at distance. I used to be the odd duck out there, supervising some of my doctoral candidates at distance, but virtual meetings have become much more common now.

6. Coworking sessions

Where we used to get together in a coffee place to write, we now have online coworking sessions that don’t require us to travel. Again, we can just connect to a Zoom meeting for 1,5 hours and work together on a topic, and, as such, find way in which we can be productive in the new environment of work.

7. Administration

A lot of administrative elements have become simpler thanks to the pandemic. Many old-fashioned bureaucratic steps that require printing, stamping, and signing forms have been replaced by much more agile digital equivalents (and it was about time these options become possible!).

8. Working from home

We’ve all learned what it is like to work from home for a long stretch of time. The pandemic helped us give insights in how we work, and which tasks we can do well from home, and which other tasks require our presence in the office. We have found way in which we can combine working in the office and working from home, in a way that suits us best.

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