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The “new normal” in education

  • Viewpoints/ Controversies
  • Published: 24 November 2020
  • Volume 51 , pages 3–14, ( 2021 )

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  • José Augusto Pacheco   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-4623-6898 1  

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Effects rippling from the Covid 19 emergency include changes in the personal, social, and economic spheres. Are there continuities as well? Based on a literature review (primarily of UNESCO and OECD publications and their critics), the following question is posed: How can one resist the slide into passive technologization and seize the possibility of achieving a responsive, ethical, humane, and international-transformational approach to education? Technologization, while an ongoing and evidently ever-intensifying tendency, is not without its critics, especially those associated with the humanistic tradition in education. This is more apparent now that curriculum is being conceived as a complicated conversation. In a complex and unequal world, the well-being of students requires diverse and even conflicting visions of the world, its problems, and the forms of knowledge we study to address them.

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From the past, we might find our way to a future unforeclosed by the present (Pinar 2019 , p. 12)

Texts regarding this pandemic’s consequences are appearing at an accelerating pace, with constant coverage by news outlets, as well as philosophical, historical, and sociological reflections by public intellectuals worldwide. Ripples from the current emergency have spread into the personal, social, and economic spheres. But are there continuities as well? Is the pandemic creating a “new normal” in education or simply accenting what has already become normal—an accelerating tendency toward technologization? This tendency presents an important challenge for education, requiring a critical vision of post-Covid-19 curriculum. One must pose an additional question: How can one resist the slide into passive technologization and seize the possibility of achieving a responsive, ethical, humane, and international-transformational approach to education?

The ongoing present

Unpredicted except through science fiction, movie scripts, and novels, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed everyday life, caused wide-scale illness and death, and provoked preventive measures like social distancing, confinement, and school closures. It has struck disproportionately at those who provide essential services and those unable to work remotely; in an already precarious marketplace, unemployment is having terrible consequences. The pandemic is now the chief sign of both globalization and deglobalization, as nations close borders and airports sit empty. There are no departures, no delays. Everything has changed, and no one was prepared. The pandemic has disrupted the flow of time and unraveled what was normal. It is the emergence of an event (think of Badiou 2009 ) that restarts time, creates radical ruptures and imbalances, and brings about a contingency that becomes a new necessity (Žižek 2020 ). Such events question the ongoing present.

The pandemic has reshuffled our needs, which are now based on a new order. Whether of short or medium duration, will it end in a return to the “normal” or move us into an unknown future? Žižek contends that “there is no return to normal, the new ‘normal’ will have to be constructed on the ruins of our old lives, or we will find ourselves in a new barbarism whose signs are already clearly discernible” (Žižek 2020 , p. 3).

Despite public health measures, Gil ( 2020 ) observes that the pandemic has so far generated no physical or spiritual upheaval and no universal awareness of the need to change how we live. Techno-capitalism continues to work, though perhaps not as before. Online sales increase and professionals work from home, thereby creating new digital subjectivities and economies. We will not escape the pull of self-preservation, self-regeneration, and the metamorphosis of capitalism, which will continue its permanent revolution (Wells 2020 ). In adapting subjectivities to the recent demands of digital capitalism, the pandemic can catapult us into an even more thoroughly digitalized space, a trend that artificial intelligence will accelerate. These new subjectivities will exhibit increased capacities for voluntary obedience and programmable functioning abilities, leading to a “new normal” benefiting those who are savvy in software-structured social relationships.

The Covid-19 pandemic has submerged us all in the tsunami-like economies of the Cloud. There is an intensification of the allegro rhythm of adaptation to the Internet of Things (Davies, Beauchamp, Davies, and Price 2019 ). For Latour ( 2020 ), the pandemic has become internalized as an ongoing state of emergency preparing us for the next crisis—climate change—for which we will see just how (un)prepared we are. Along with inequality, climate is one of the most pressing issues of our time (OECD 2019a , 2019b ) and therefore its representation in the curriculum is of public, not just private, interest.

Education both reflects what is now and anticipates what is next, recoding private and public responses to crises. Žižek ( 2020 , p. 117) suggests in this regard that “values and beliefs should not be simply ignored: they play an important role and should be treated as a specific mode of assemblage”. As such, education is (post)human and has its (over)determination by beliefs and values, themselves encoded in technology.

Will the pandemic detoxify our addiction to technology, or will it cement that addiction? Pinar ( 2019 , pp. 14–15) suggests that “this idea—that technological advance can overcome cultural, economic, educational crises—has faded into the background. It is our assumption. Our faith prompts the purchase of new technology and assures we can cure climate change”. While waiting for technology to rescue us, we might also remember to look at ourselves. In this way, the pandemic could be a starting point for a more sustainable environment. An intelligent response to climate change, reactivating the humanistic tradition in education, would reaffirm the right to such an education as a global common good (UNESCO 2015a , p. 10):

This approach emphasizes the inclusion of people who are often subject to discrimination – women and girls, indigenous people, persons with disabilities, migrants, the elderly and people living in countries affected by conflict. It requires an open and flexible approach to learning that is both lifelong and life-wide: an approach that provides the opportunity for all to realize their potential for a sustainable future and a life of dignity”.

Pinar ( 2004 , 2009 , 2019 ) concevies of curriculum as a complicated conversation. Central to that complicated conversation is climate change, which drives the need for education for sustainable development and the grooming of new global citizens with sustainable lifestyles and exemplary environmental custodianship (Marope 2017 ).

The new normal

The pandemic ushers in a “new” normal, in which digitization enforces ways of working and learning. It forces education further into technologization, a development already well underway, fueled by commercialism and the reigning market ideology. Daniel ( 2020 , p. 1) notes that “many institutions had plans to make greater use of technology in teaching, but the outbreak of Covid-19 has meant that changes intended to occur over months or years had to be implemented in a few days”.

Is this “new normal” really new or is it a reiteration of the old?

Digital technologies are the visible face of the immediate changes taking place in society—the commercial society—and schools. The immediate solution to the closure of schools is distance learning, with platforms proliferating and knowledge demoted to information to be exchanged (Koopman 2019 ), like a product, a phenomenon predicted decades ago by Lyotard ( 1984 , pp. 4-5):

Knowledge is and will be produced in order to be sold, it is and will be consumed in order to be valued in a new production: in both cases, the goal is exchange. Knowledge ceases to be an end in itself, it loses its use-value.

Digital technologies and economic rationality based on performance are significant determinants of the commercialization of learning. Moving from physical face-to-face presence to virtual contact (synchronous and asynchronous), the learning space becomes disembodied, virtual not actual, impacting both student learning and the organization of schools, which are no longer buildings but websites. Such change is not only coterminous with the pandemic, as the Education 2030 Agenda (UNESCO 2015b ) testified; preceding that was the Delors Report (Delors 1996 ), which recoded education as lifelong learning that included learning to know, learning to do, learning to be, and learning to live together.

Transnational organizations have specified competences for the 21st century and, in the process, have defined disciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge that encourages global citizenship, through “the supra curriculum at the global, regional, or international comparative level” (Marope 2017 , p. 10). According to UNESCO ( 2017 ):

While the world may be increasingly interconnected, human rights violations, inequality and poverty still threaten peace and sustainability. Global Citizenship Education (GCED) is UNESCO’s response to these challenges. It works by empowering learners of all ages to understand that these are global, not local issues and to become active promoters of more peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, secure and sustainable societies.

These transnational initiatives have not only acknowledged traditional school subjects but have also shifted the curriculum toward timely topics dedicated to understanding the emergencies of the day (Spiller 2017 ). However, for the OECD ( 2019a ), the “new normal” accentuates two ideas: competence-based education, which includes the knowledges identified in the Delors Report , and a new learning framework structured by digital technologies. The Covid-19 pandemic does not change this logic. Indeed, the interdisciplinary skills framework, content and standardized testing associated with the Programme for International Student Assessment of the OECD has become the most powerful tool for prescribing the curriculum. Educationally, “the universal homogenous ‘state’ exists already. Globalization of standardized testing—the most prominent instance of threatening to restructure schools into technological sites of political socialization, conditioning children for compliance to a universal homogeneous state of mind” (Pinar 2019 , p. 2).

In addition to cognitive and practical skills, this “homogenous state of mind” rests on so-called social and emotional skills in the service of learning to live together, affirming global citizenship, and presumably returning agency to students and teachers (OECD 2019a ). According to Marope ( 2017 , p. 22), “this calls for higher flexibility in curriculum development, and for the need to leave space for curricula interpretation, contextualization, and creativity at the micro level of teachers and classrooms”. Heterogeneity is thus enlisted in the service of both economic homogeneity and disciplinary knowledge. Disciplinary knowledge is presented as universal and endowed with social, moral, and cognitive authority. Operational and effective knowledge becomes central, due to the influence of financial lobbies, thereby ensuring that the logic of the market is brought into the practices of schools. As Pestre ( 2013 , p. 21) observed, “the nature of this knowledge is new: what matters is that it makes hic et nunc the action, its effect and not its understanding”. Its functionality follows (presumably) data and evidence-based management.

A new language is thus imposed on education and the curriculum. Such enforced installation of performative language and Big Data lead to effective and profitable operations in a vast market concerned with competence in operational skills (Lyotard 1984 ). This “new normal” curriculum is said to be more horizontal and less hierarchical and radically polycentric with problem-solving produced through social networks, NGOs, transnational organizations, and think tanks (Pestre 2013 ; Williamson 2013 , 2017 ). Untouched by the pandemic, the “new (old) normal” remains based on disciplinary knowledge and enmeshed in the discourse of standards and accountability in education.

Such enforced commercialism reflects and reinforces economic globalization. Pinar ( 2011 , p. 30) worries that “the globalization of instrumental rationality in education threatens the very existence of education itself”. In his theory, commercialism and the technical instrumentality by which homogenization advances erase education as an embodied experience and the curriculum as a humanistic project. It is a time in which the humanities are devalued as well, as acknowledged by Pinar ( 2019 , p. 19): “In the United States [and in the world] not only does economics replace education—STEM replace the liberal arts as central to the curriculum—there are even politicians who attack the liberal arts as subversive and irrelevant…it can be more precisely characterized as reckless rhetoric of a know-nothing populism”. Replacing in-person dialogical encounters and the educational cultivation of the person (via Bildung and currere ), digital technologies are creating uniformity of learning spaces, in spite of their individualistic tendencies. Of course, education occurs outside schools—and on occasion in schools—but this causal displacement of the centrality of the school implies a devaluation of academic knowledge in the name of diversification of learning spaces.

In society, education, and specifically in the curriculum, the pandemic has brought nothing new but rather has accelerated already existing trends that can be summarized as technologization. Those who can work “remotely” exercise their privilege, since they can exploit an increasingly digital society. They themselves are changed in the process, as their own subjectivities are digitalized, thus predisposing them to a “curriculum of things” (a term coined by Laist ( 2016 ) to describe an object-oriented pedagogical approach), which is organized not around knowledge but information (Koopman 2019 ; Couldry and Mejias 2019 ). This (old) “new normal” was advanced by the OECD, among other international organizations, thus precipitating what some see as “a dynamic and transformative articulation of collective expectations of the purpose, quality, and relevance of education and learning to holistic, inclusive, just, peaceful, and sustainable development, and to the well-being and fulfilment of current and future generations” (Marope 2017 , p. 13). Covid-19, illiberal democracy, economic nationalism, and inaction on climate change, all upend this promise.

Understanding the psychological and cultural complexity of the curriculum is crucial. Without appreciating the infinity of responses students have to what they study, one cannot engage in the complicated conversation that is the curriculum. There must be an affirmation of “not only the individualism of a person’s experience but [of what is] underlining the significance of a person’s response to a course of study that has been designed to ignore individuality in order to buttress nation, religion, ethnicity, family, and gender” (Grumet 2017 , p. 77). Rather than promoting neuroscience as the answer to the problems of curriculum and pedagogy, it is long-past time for rethinking curriculum development and addressing the canonical curriculum question: What knowledge is of most worth from a humanistic perspective that is structured by complicated conversation (UNESCO 2015a ; Pinar 2004 , 2019 )? It promotes respect for diversity and rejection of all forms of (cultural) hegemony, stereotypes, and biases (Pacheco 2009 , 2017 ).

Revisiting the curriculum in the Covid-19 era then expresses the fallacy of the “new normal” but also represents a particular opportunity to promote a different path forward.

Looking to the post-Covid-19 curriculum

Based on the notion of curriculum as a complicated conversation, as proposed by Pinar ( 2004 ), the post-Covid-19 curriculum can seize the possibility of achieving a responsive, ethical, humane education, one which requires a humanistic and internationally aware reconceptualization of curriculum.

While beliefs and values are anchored in social and individual practices (Pinar 2019 , p. 15), education extracts them for critique and reconsideration. For example, freedom and tolerance are not neutral but normative practices, however ideology-free policymakers imagine them to be.

That same sleight-of-hand—value neutrality in the service of a certain normativity—is evident in a digital concept of society as a relationship between humans and non-humans (or posthumans), a relationship not only mediated by but encapsulated within technology: machines interfacing with other machines. This is not merely a technological change, as if it were a quarantined domain severed from society. Technologization is a totalizing digitalization of human experience that includes the structures of society. It is less social than economic, with social bonds now recoded as financial transactions sutured by software. Now that subjectivity is digitalized, the human face has become an exclusively economic one that fabricates the fantasy of rational and free agents—always self-interested—operating in supposedly free markets. Oddly enough, there is no place for a vision of humanistic and internationally aware change. The technological dimension of curriculum is assumed to be the primary area of change, which has been deeply and totally imposed by global standards. The worldwide pandemic supports arguments for imposing forms of control (Žižek 2020 ), including the geolocation of infected people and the suspension—in a state of exception—of civil liberties.

By destroying democracy, the technology of control leads to totalitarianism and barbarism, ending tolerance, difference, and diversity. Remembrance and memory are needed so that historical fascisms (Eley 2020 ) are not repeated, albeit in new disguises (Adorno 2011 ). Technologized education enhances efficiency and ensures uniformity, while presuming objectivity to the detriment of human reflection and singularity. It imposes the running data of the Curriculum of Things and eschews intellectual endeavor, critical attitude, and self-reflexivity.

For those who advocate the primacy of technology and the so-called “free market”, the pandemic represents opportunities not only for profit but also for confirmation of the pervasiveness of human error and proof of the efficiency of the non-human, i.e., the inhuman technology. What may possibly protect children from this inhumanity and their commodification, as human capital, is a humane or humanistic education that contradicts their commodification.

The decontextualized technical vocabulary in use in a market society produces an undifferentiated image in which people are blinded to nuance, distinction, and subtlety. For Pestre, concepts associated with efficiency convey the primacy of economic activity to the exclusion, for instance, of ethics, since those concepts devalue historic (if unrealized) commitments to equality and fraternity by instead emphasizing economic freedom and the autonomy of self-interested individuals. Constructing education as solely economic and technological constitutes a movement toward total efficiency through the installation of uniformity of behavior, devaluing diversity and human creativity.

Erased from the screen is any image of public education as a space of freedom, or as Macdonald ( 1995 , p. 38) holds, any image or concept of “the dignity and integrity of each human”. Instead, what we face is the post-human and the undisputed reign of instrumental reality, where the ends justify the means and human realization is reduced to the consumption of goods and experiences. As Pinar ( 2019 , p. 7) observes: “In the private sphere…. freedom is recast as a choice of consumer goods; in the public sphere, it converts to control and the demand that freedom flourish, so that whatever is profitable can be pursued”. Such “negative” freedom—freedom from constraint—ignores “positive” freedom, which requires us to contemplate—in ethical and spiritual terms—what that freedom is for. To contemplate what freedom is for requires “critical and comprehensive knowledge” (Pestre 2013 , p. 39) not only instrumental and technical knowledge. The humanities and the arts would reoccupy the center of such a curriculum and not be related to its margins (Westbury 2008 ), acknowledging that what is studied within schools is a complicated conversation among those present—including oneself, one’s ancestors, and those yet to be born (Pinar 2004 ).

In an era of unconstrained technologization, the challenge facing the curriculum is coding and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), with technology dislodging those subjects related to the human. This is not a classical curriculum (although it could be) but one focused on the emergencies of the moment–namely, climate change, the pandemic, mass migration, right-wing populism, and economic inequality. These timely topics, which in secondary school could be taught as short courses and at the elementary level as thematic units, would be informed by the traditional school subjects (yes, including STEM). Such a reorganization of the curriculum would allow students to see how academic knowledge enables them to understand what is happening to them and their parents in their own regions and globally. Such a cosmopolitan curriculum would prepare children to become citizens not only of their own nations but of the world. This citizenship would simultaneously be subjective and social, singular and universal (Marope 2020 ). Pinar ( 2019 , p. 5) reminds us that “the division between private and public was first blurred then erased by technology”:

No longer public, let alone sacred, morality becomes a matter of privately held values, sometimes monetized as commodities, statements of personal preference, often ornamental, sometimes self-servingly instrumental. Whatever their function, values were to be confined to the private sphere. The public sphere was no longer the civic square but rather, the marketplace, the site where one purchased whatever one valued.

New technological spaces are the universal center for (in)human values. The civic square is now Amazon, Alibaba, Twitter, WeChat, and other global online corporations. The facts of our human condition—a century-old phrase uncanny in its echoes today—can be studied in schools as an interdisciplinary complicated conversation about public issues that eclipse private ones (Pinar 2019 ), including social injustice, inequality, democracy, climate change, refugees, immigrants, and minority groups. Understood as a responsive, ethical, humane and transformational international educational approach, such a post-Covid-19 curriculum could be a “force for social equity, justice, cohesion, stability, and peace” (Marope 2017 , p. 32). “Unchosen” is certainly the adjective describing our obligations now, as we are surrounded by death and dying and threatened by privation or even starvation, as economies collapse and food-supply chains are broken. The pandemic may not mean deglobalization, but it surely accentuates it, as national borders are closed, international travel is suspended, and international trade is impacted by the accompanying economic crisis. On the other hand, economic globalization could return even stronger, as could the globalization of education systems. The “new normal” in education is the technological order—a passive technologization—and its expansion continues uncontested and even accelerated by the pandemic.

Two Greek concepts, kronos and kairos , allow a discussion of contrasts between the quantitative and the qualitative in education. Echoing the ancient notion of kronos are the technologically structured curriculum values of quantity and performance, which are always assessed by a standardized accountability system enforcing an “ideology of achievement”. “While kronos refers to chronological or sequential time, kairos refers to time that might require waiting patiently for a long time or immediate and rapid action; which course of action one chooses will depend on the particular situation” (Lahtinen 2009 , p. 252).

For Macdonald ( 1995 , p. 51), “the central ideology of the schools is the ideology of achievement …[It] is a quantitative ideology, for even to attempt to assess quality must be quantified under this ideology, and the educational process is perceived as a technically monitored quality control process”.

Self-evaluation subjectively internalizes what is useful and in conformity with the techno-economy and its so-called standards, increasingly enforcing technical (software) forms. If recoded as the Internet of Things, this remains a curriculum in allegiance with “order and control” (Doll 2013 , p. 314) School knowledge is reduced to an instrument for economic success, employing compulsory collaboration to ensure group think and conformity. Intertwined with the Internet of Things, technological subjectivity becomes embedded in software, redesigned for effectiveness, i.e., or use-value (as Lyotard predicted).

The Curriculum of Things dominates the Internet, which is simultaneously an object and a thing (see Heidegger 1967 , 1971 , 1977 ), a powerful “technological tool for the process of knowledge building” (Means 2008 , p. 137). Online learning occupies the subjective zone between the “curriculum-as-planned” and the “curriculum-as-lived” (Pinar 2019 , p. 23). The world of the curriculum-as-lived fades, as the screen shifts and children are enmeshed in an ocularcentric system of accountability and instrumentality.

In contrast to kronos , the Greek concept of kairos implies lived time or even slow time (Koepnick 2014 ), time that is “self-reflective” (Macdonald 1995 , p. 103) and autobiographical (Pinar 2009 , 2004), thus inspiring “curriculum improvisation” (Aoki 2011 , p. 375), while emphasizing “the plurality of subjectivities” (Grumet 2017 , p. 80). Kairos emphasizes singularity and acknowledges particularities; it is skeptical of similarities. For Shew ( 2013 , p. 48), “ kairos is that which opens an originary experience—of the divine, perhaps, but also of life or being. Thought as such, kairos as a formative happening—an opportune moment, crisis, circumstance, event—imposes its own sense of measure on time”. So conceived, curriculum can become a complicated conversation that occurs not in chronological time but in its own time. Such dialogue is not neutral, apolitical, or timeless. It focuses on the present and is intrinsically subjective, even in public space, as Pinar ( 2019 , p. 12) writes: “its site is subjectivity as one attunes oneself to what one is experiencing, yes to its immediacy and specificity but also to its situatedness, relatedness, including to what lies beyond it and not only spatially but temporally”.

Kairos is, then, the uniqueness of time that converts curriculum into a complicated conversation, one that includes the subjective reconstruction of learning as a consciousness of everyday life, encouraging the inner activism of quietude and disquietude. Writing about eternity, as an orientation towards the future, Pinar ( 2019 , p. 2) argues that “the second side [the first is contemplation] of such consciousness is immersion in daily life, the activism of quietude – for example, ethical engagement with others”. We add disquietude now, following the work of the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa. Disquietude is a moment of eternity: “Sometimes I think I’ll never leave ‘Douradores’ Street. And having written this, it seems to me eternity. Neither pleasure, nor glory, nor power. Freedom, only freedom” (Pesssoa 1991 ).

The disquietude conversation is simultaneously individual and public. It establishes an international space both deglobalized and autonomous, a source of responsive, ethical, and humane encounter. No longer entranced by the distracting dynamic stasis of image-after-image on the screen, the student can face what is his or her emplacement in the physical and natural world, as well as the technological world. The student can become present as a person, here and now, simultaneously historical and timeless.

Conclusions

Slow down and linger should be our motto now. A slogan yes, but it also represents a political, as well as a psychological resistance to the acceleration of time (Berg and Seeber 2016 )—an acceleration that the pandemic has intensified. Covid-19 has moved curriculum online, forcing children physically apart from each other and from their teachers and especially from the in-person dialogical encounters that classrooms can provide. The public space disappears into the pre-designed screen space that software allows, and the machine now becomes the material basis for a curriculum of things, not persons. Like the virus, the pandemic curriculum becomes embedded in devices that technologize our children.

Although one hundred years old, the images created in Modern Times by Charlie Chaplin return, less humorous this time than emblematic of our intensifying subjection to technological necessity. It “would seem to leave us as cogs in the machine, ourselves like moving parts, we keep functioning efficiently, increasing productivity calculating the creative destruction of what is, the human now materialized (de)vices ensnaring us in convenience, connectivity, calculation” (Pinar 2019 , p. 9). Post-human, as many would say.

Technology supports standardized testing and enforces software-designed conformity and never-ending self-evaluation, while all the time erasing lived, embodied experience and intellectual independence. Ignoring the evidence, others are sure that technology can function differently: “Given the potential of information and communication technologies, the teacher should now be a guide who enables learners, from early childhood throughout their learning trajectories, to develop and advance through the constantly expanding maze of knowledge” (UNESCO 2015a , p. 51). Would that it were so.

The canonical question—What knowledge is of most worth?—is open-ended and contentious. In a technologized world, providing for the well-being of children is not obvious, as well-being is embedded in ancient, non-neoliberal visions of the world. “Education is everybody’s business”, Pinar ( 2019 , p. 2) points out, as it fosters “responsible citizenship and solidarity in a global world” (UNESCO 2015a , p. 66), resisting inequality and the exclusion, for example, of migrant groups, refugees, and even those who live below or on the edge of poverty.

In this fast-moving digital world, education needs to be inclusive but not conformist. As the United Nations ( 2015 ) declares, education should ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. “The coming years will be a vital period to save the planet and to achieve sustainable, inclusive human development” (United Nations 2019 , p. 64). Is such sustainable, inclusive human development achievable through technologization? Can technology succeed where religion has failed?

Despite its contradictions and economic emphases, public education has one clear obligation—to create embodied encounters of learning through curriculum conceived as a complicated conversation. Such a conception acknowledges the worldliness of a cosmopolitan curriculum as it affirms the personification of the individual (Pinar 2011 ). As noted by Grumet ( 2017 , p. 89), “as a form of ethics, there is a responsibility to participate in conversation”. Certainly, it is necessary to ask over and over again the canonical curriculum question: What knowledge is of most worth?

If time, technology and teaching are moving images of eternity, curriculum and pedagogy are also, both ‘moving’ and ‘images’ but not an explicit, empirical, or exact representation of eternity…if reality is an endless series of ‘moving images’, the canonical curriculum question—What knowledge is of most worth?—cannot be settled for all time by declaring one set of subjects eternally important” (Pinar 2019 , p. 12).

In a complicated conversation, the curriculum is not a fixed image sliding into a passive technologization. As a “moving image”, the curriculum constitutes a politics of presence, an ongoing expression of subjectivity (Grumet 2017 ) that affirms the infinity of reality: “Shifting one’s attitude from ‘reducing’ complexity to ‘embracing’ what is always already present in relations and interactions may lead to thinking complexly, abiding happily with mystery” (Doll 2012 , p. 172). Describing the dialogical encounter characterizing conceived curriculum, as a complicated conversation, Pinar explains that this moment of dialogue “is not only place-sensitive (perhaps classroom centered) but also within oneself”, because “the educational significance of subject matter is that it enables the student to learn from actual embodied experience, an outcome that cannot always be engineered” (Pinar 2019 , pp. 12–13). Lived experience is not technological. So, “the curriculum of the future is not just a matter of defining content and official knowledge. It is about creating, sculpting, and finessing minds, mentalities, and identities, promoting style of thought about humans, or ‘mashing up’ and ‘making up’ the future of people” (Williamson 2013 , p. 113).

Yes, we need to linger and take time to contemplate the curriculum question. Only in this way will we share what is common and distinctive in our experience of the current pandemic by changing our time and our learning to foreclose on our future. Curriculum conceived as a complicated conversation restarts historical not screen time; it enacts the private and public as distinguishable, not fused in a computer screen. That is the “new normal”.

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Pacheco, J.A. The “new normal” in education. Prospects 51 , 3–14 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11125-020-09521-x

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Blended learning: the new normal and emerging technologies

  • Charles Dziuban 1 ,
  • Charles R. Graham 2 ,
  • Patsy D. Moskal   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-6376-839X 1 ,
  • Anders Norberg 3 &
  • Nicole Sicilia 1  

International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education volume  15 , Article number:  3 ( 2018 ) Cite this article

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This study addressed several outcomes, implications, and possible future directions for blended learning (BL) in higher education in a world where information communication technologies (ICTs) increasingly communicate with each other. In considering effectiveness, the authors contend that BL coalesces around access, success, and students’ perception of their learning environments. Success and withdrawal rates for face-to-face and online courses are compared to those for BL as they interact with minority status. Investigation of student perception about course excellence revealed the existence of robust if-then decision rules for determining how students evaluate their educational experiences. Those rules were independent of course modality, perceived content relevance, and expected grade. The authors conclude that although blended learning preceded modern instructional technologies, its evolution will be inextricably bound to contemporary information communication technologies that are approximating some aspects of human thought processes.

Introduction

Blended learning and research issues.

Blended learning (BL), or the integration of face-to-face and online instruction (Graham 2013 ), is widely adopted across higher education with some scholars referring to it as the “new traditional model” (Ross and Gage 2006 , p. 167) or the “new normal” in course delivery (Norberg et al. 2011 , p. 207). However, tracking the accurate extent of its growth has been challenging because of definitional ambiguity (Oliver and Trigwell 2005 ), combined with institutions’ inability to track an innovative practice, that in many instances has emerged organically. One early nationwide study sponsored by the Sloan Consortium (now the Online Learning Consortium) found that 65.2% of participating institutions of higher education (IHEs) offered blended (also termed hybrid ) courses (Allen and Seaman 2003 ). A 2008 study, commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education to explore distance education in the U.S., defined BL as “a combination of online and in-class instruction with reduced in-class seat time for students ” (Lewis and Parsad 2008 , p. 1, emphasis added). Using this definition, the study found that 35% of higher education institutions offered blended courses, and that 12% of the 12.2 million documented distance education enrollments were in blended courses.

The 2017 New Media Consortium Horizon Report found that blended learning designs were one of the short term forces driving technology adoption in higher education in the next 1–2 years (Adams Becker et al. 2017 ). Also, blended learning is one of the key issues in teaching and learning in the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative’s 2017 annual survey of higher education (EDUCAUSE 2017 ). As institutions begin to examine BL instruction, there is a growing research interest in exploring the implications for both faculty and students. This modality is creating a community of practice built on a singular and pervasive research question, “How is blended learning impacting the teaching and learning environment?” That question continues to gain traction as investigators study the complexities of how BL interacts with cognitive, affective, and behavioral components of student behavior, and examine its transformation potential for the academy. Those issues are so compelling that several volumes have been dedicated to assembling the research on how blended learning can be better understood (Dziuban et al. 2016 ; Picciano et al. 2014 ; Picciano and Dziuban 2007 ; Bonk and Graham 2007 ; Kitchenham 2011 ; Jean-François 2013 ; Garrison and Vaughan 2013 ) and at least one organization, the Online Learning Consortium, sponsored an annual conference solely dedicated to blended learning at all levels of education and training (2004–2015). These initiatives address blended learning in a wide variety of situations. For instance, the contexts range over K-12 education, industrial and military training, conceptual frameworks, transformational potential, authentic assessment, and new research models. Further, many of these resources address students’ access, success, withdrawal, and perception of the degree to which blended learning provides an effective learning environment.

Currently the United States faces a widening educational gap between our underserved student population and those communities with greater financial and technological resources (Williams 2016 ). Equal access to education is a critical need, one that is particularly important for those in our underserved communities. Can blended learning help increase access thereby alleviating some of the issues faced by our lower income students while resulting in improved educational equality? Although most indicators suggest “yes” (Dziuban et al. 2004 ), it seems that, at the moment, the answer is still “to be determined.” Quality education presents a challenge, evidenced by many definitions of what constitutes its fundamental components (Pirsig 1974 ; Arum et al. 2016 ). Although progress has been made by initiatives, such as, Quality Matters ( 2016 ), the OLC OSCQR Course Design Review Scorecard developed by Open SUNY (Open SUNY n.d. ), the Quality Scorecard for Blended Learning Programs (Online Learning Consortium n.d. ), and SERVQUAL (Alhabeeb 2015 ), the issue is by no means resolved. Generally, we still make quality education a perceptual phenomenon where we ascribe that attribute to a course, educational program, or idea, but struggle with precisely why we reached that decision. Searle ( 2015 ), summarizes the problem concisely arguing that quality does not exist independently, but is entirely observer dependent. Pirsig ( 1974 ) in his iconic volume on the nature of quality frames the context this way,

“There is such thing as Quality, but that as soon as you try to define it, something goes haywire. You can’t do it” (p. 91).

Therefore, attempting to formulate a semantic definition of quality education with syntax-based metrics results in what O’Neil (O'Neil 2017 ) terms surrogate models that are rough approximations and oversimplified. Further, the derived metrics tend to morph into goals or benchmarks, losing their original measurement properties (Goodhart 1975 ).

Information communication technologies in society and education

Blended learning forces us to consider the characteristics of digital technology, in general, and information communication technologies (ICTs), more specifically. Floridi ( 2014 ) suggests an answer proffered by Alan Turing: that digital ICTs can process information on their own, in some sense just as humans and other biological life. ICTs can also communicate information to each other, without human intervention, but as linked processes designed by humans. We have evolved to the point where humans are not always “in the loop” of technology, but should be “on the loop” (Floridi 2014 , p. 30), designing and adapting the process. We perceive our world more and more in informational terms, and not primarily as physical entities (Floridi 2008 ). Increasingly, the educational world is dominated by information and our economies rest primarily on that asset. So our world is also blended, and it is blended so much that we hardly see the individual components of the blend any longer. Floridi ( 2014 ) argues that the world has become an “infosphere” (like biosphere) where we live as “inforgs.” What is real for us is shifting from the physical and unchangeable to those things with which we can interact.

Floridi also helps us to identify the next blend in education, involving ICTs, or specialized artificial intelligence (Floridi 2014 , 25; Norberg 2017 , 65). Learning analytics, adaptive learning, calibrated peer review, and automated essay scoring (Balfour 2013 ) are advanced processes that, provided they are good interfaces, can work well with the teacher— allowing him or her to concentrate on human attributes such as being caring, creative, and engaging in problem-solving. This can, of course, as with all technical advancements, be used to save resources and augment the role of the teacher. For instance, if artificial intelligence can be used to work along with teachers, allowing them more time for personal feedback and mentoring with students, then, we will have made a transformational breakthrough. The Edinburg University manifesto for teaching online says bravely, “Automation need not impoverish education – we welcome our robot colleagues” (Bayne et al. 2016 ). If used wisely, they will teach us more about ourselves, and about what is truly human in education. This emerging blend will also affect curricular and policy questions, such as the what? and what for? The new normal for education will be in perpetual flux. Floridi’s ( 2014 ) philosophy offers us tools to understand and be in control and not just sit by and watch what happens. In many respects, he has addressed the new normal for blended learning.

Literature of blended learning

A number of investigators have assembled a comprehensive agenda of transformative and innovative research issues for blended learning that have the potential to enhance effectiveness (Garrison and Kanuka 2004 ; Picciano 2009 ). Generally, research has found that BL results in improvement in student success and satisfaction, (Dziuban and Moskal 2011 ; Dziuban et al. 2011 ; Means et al. 2013 ) as well as an improvement in students’ sense of community (Rovai and Jordan 2004 ) when compared with face-to-face courses. Those who have been most successful at blended learning initiatives stress the importance of institutional support for course redesign and planning (Moskal et al. 2013 ; Dringus and Seagull 2015 ; Picciano 2009 ; Tynan et al. 2015 ). The evolving research questions found in the literature are long and demanding, with varied definitions of what constitutes “blended learning,” facilitating the need for continued and in-depth research on instructional models and support needed to maximize achievement and success (Dringus and Seagull 2015 ; Bloemer and Swan 2015 ).

Educational access

The lack of access to educational technologies and innovations (sometimes termed the digital divide) continues to be a challenge with novel educational technologies (Fairlie 2004 ; Jones et al. 2009 ). One of the promises of online technologies is that they can increase access to nontraditional and underserved students by bringing a host of educational resources and experiences to those who may have limited access to on-campus-only higher education. A 2010 U.S. report shows that students with low socioeconomic status are less likely to obtain higher levels of postsecondary education (Aud et al. 2010 ). However, the increasing availability of distance education has provided educational opportunities to millions (Lewis and Parsad 2008 ; Allen et al. 2016 ). Additionally, an emphasis on open educational resources (OER) in recent years has resulted in significant cost reductions without diminishing student performance outcomes (Robinson et al. 2014 ; Fischer et al. 2015 ; Hilton et al. 2016 ).

Unfortunately, the benefits of access may not be experienced evenly across demographic groups. A 2015 study found that Hispanic and Black STEM majors were significantly less likely to take online courses even when controlling for academic preparation, socioeconomic status (SES), citizenship, and English as a second language (ESL) status (Wladis et al. 2015 ). Also, questions have been raised about whether the additional access afforded by online technologies has actually resulted in improved outcomes for underserved populations. A distance education report in California found that all ethnic minorities (except Asian/Pacific Islanders) completed distance education courses at a lower rate than the ethnic majority (California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office 2013 ). Shea and Bidjerano ( 2014 , 2016 ) found that African American community college students who took distance education courses completed degrees at significantly lower rates than those who did not take distance education courses. On the other hand, a study of success factors in K-12 online learning found that for ethnic minorities, only 1 out of 15 courses had significant gaps in student test scores (Liu and Cavanaugh 2011 ). More research needs to be conducted, examining access and success rates for different populations, when it comes to learning in different modalities, including fully online and blended learning environments.

Framing a treatment effect

Over the last decade, there have been at least five meta-analyses that have addressed the impact of blended learning environments and its relationship to learning effectiveness (Zhao et al. 2005 ; Sitzmann et al. 2006 ; Bernard et al. 2009 ; Means et al. 2010 , 2013 ; Bernard et al. 2014 ). Each of these studies has found small to moderate positive effect sizes in favor of blended learning when compared to fully online or traditional face-to-face environments. However, there are several considerations inherent in these studies that impact our understanding the generalizability of outcomes.

Dziuban and colleagues (Dziuban et al. 2015 ) analyzed the meta-analyses conducted by Means and her colleagues (Means et al. 2013 ; Means et al. 2010 ), concluding that their methods were impressive as evidenced by exhaustive study inclusion criteria and the use of scale-free effect size indices. The conclusion, in both papers, was that there was a modest difference in multiple outcome measures for courses featuring online modalities—in particular, blended courses. However, with blended learning especially, there are some concerns with these kinds of studies. First, the effect sizes are based on the linear hypothesis testing model with the underlying assumption that the treatment and the error terms are uncorrelated, indicating that there is nothing else going on in the blending that might confound the results. Although the blended learning articles (Means et al. 2010 ) were carefully vetted, the assumption of independence is tenuous at best so that these meta-analysis studies must be interpreted with extreme caution.

There is an additional concern with blended learning as well. Blends are not equivalent because of the manner on which they are configured. For instance, a careful reading of the sources used in the Means, et al. papers will identify, at minimum, the following blending techniques: laboratory assessments, online instruction, e-mail, class web sites, computer laboratories, mapping and scaffolding tools, computer clusters, interactive presentations and e-mail, handwriting capture, evidence-based practice, electronic portfolios, learning management systems, and virtual apparatuses. These are not equivalent ways in which to configure courses, and such nonequivalence constitutes the confounding we describe. We argue here that, in actuality, blended learning is a general construct in the form of a boundary object (Star and Griesemer 1989 ) rather than a treatment effect in the statistical sense. That is, an idea or concept that can support a community of practice, but is weakly defined fostering disagreement in the general group. Conversely, it is stronger in individual constituencies. For instance, content disciplines (i.e. education, rhetoric, optics, mathematics, and philosophy) formulate a more precise definition because of commonly embraced teaching and learning principles. Quite simply, the situation is more complicated than that, as Leonard Smith ( 2007 ) says after Tolstoy,

“All linear models resemble each other, each non nonlinear system is unique in its own way” (p. 33).

This by no means invalidates these studies, but effect size associated with blended learning should be interpreted with caution where the impact is evaluated within a particular learning context.

Study objectives

This study addressed student access by examining success and withdrawal rates in the blended learning courses by comparing them to face-to-face and online modalities over an extended time period at the University of Central Florida. Further, the investigators sought to assess the differences in those success and withdrawal rates with the minority status of students. Secondly, the investigators examined the student end-of-course ratings of blended learning and other modalities by attempting to develop robust if-then decision rules about what characteristics of classes and instructors lead students to assign an “excellent” value to their educational experience. Because of the high stakes nature of these student ratings toward faculty promotion, awards, and tenure, they act as a surrogate measure for instructional quality. Next, the investigators determined the conditional probabilities for students conforming to the identified rule cross-referenced by expected grade, the degree to which they desired to take the course, and course modality.

Student grades by course modality were recoded into a binary variable with C or higher assigned a value of 1, and remaining values a 0. This was a declassification process that sacrificed some specificity but compensated for confirmation bias associated with disparate departmental policies regarding grade assignment. At the measurement level this was an “on track to graduation index” for students. Withdrawal was similarly coded by the presence or absence of its occurrence. In each case, the percentage of students succeeding or withdrawing from blended, online or face-to-face courses was calculated by minority and non-minority status for the fall 2014 through fall 2015 semesters.

Next, a classification and regression tree (CART) analysis (Brieman et al. 1984 ) was performed on the student end-of-course evaluation protocol ( Appendix 1 ). The dependent measure was a binary variable indicating whether or not a student assigned an overall rating of excellent to his or her course experience. The independent measures in the study were: the remaining eight rating items on the protocol, college membership, and course level (lower undergraduate, upper undergraduate, and graduate). Decision trees are efficient procedures for achieving effective solutions in studies such as this because with missing values imputation may be avoided with procedures such as floating methods and the surrogate formation (Brieman et al. 1984 , Olshen et al. 1995 ). For example, a logistic regression method cannot efficiently handle all variables under consideration. There are 10 independent variables involved here; one variable has three levels, another has nine, and eight have five levels each. This means the logistic regression model must incorporate more than 50 dummy variables and an excessively large number of two-way interactions. However, the decision-tree method can perform this analysis very efficiently, permitting the investigator to consider higher order interactions. Even more importantly, decision trees represent appropriate methods in this situation because many of the variables are ordinally scaled. Although numerical values can be assigned to each category, those values are not unique. However, decision trees incorporate the ordinal component of the variables to obtain a solution. The rules derived from decision trees have an if-then structure that is readily understandable. The accuracy of these rules can be assessed with percentages of correct classification or odds-ratios that are easily understood. The procedure produces tree-like rule structures that predict outcomes.

The model-building procedure for predicting overall instructor rating

For this study, the investigators used the CART method (Brieman et al. 1984 ) executed with SPSS 23 (IBM Corp 2015 ). Because of its strong variance-sharing tendencies with the other variables, the dependent measure for the analysis was the rating on the item Overall Rating of the Instructor , with the previously mentioned indicator variables (college, course level, and the remaining 8 questions) on the instrument. Tree methods are recursive, and bisect data into subgroups called nodes or leaves. CART analysis bases itself on: data splitting, pruning, and homogeneous assessment.

Splitting the data into two (binary) subsets comprises the first stage of the process. CART continues to split the data until the frequencies in each subset are either very small or all observations in a subset belong to one category (e.g., all observations in a subset have the same rating). Usually the growing stage results in too many terminate nodes for the model to be useful. CART solves this problem using pruning methods that reduce the dimensionality of the system.

The final stage of the analysis involves assessing homogeneousness in growing and pruning the tree. One way to accomplish this is to compute the misclassification rates. For example, a rule that produces a .95 probability that an instructor will receive an excellent rating has an associated error of 5.0%.

Implications for using decision trees

Although decision-tree techniques are effective for analyzing datasets such as this, the reader should be aware of certain limitations. For example, since trees use ranks to analyze both ordinal and interval variables, information can be lost. However, the most serious weakness of decision tree analysis is that the results can be unstable because small initial variations can lead to substantially different solutions.

For this study model, these problems were addressed with the k-fold cross-validation process. Initially the dataset was partitioned randomly into 10 subsets with an approximately equal number of records in each subset. Each cohort is used as a test partition, and the remaining subsets are combined to complete the function. This produces 10 models that are all trained on different subsets of the original dataset and where each has been used as the test partition one time only.

Although computationally dense, CART was selected as the analysis model for a number of reasons— primarily because it provides easily interpretable rules that readers will be able evaluate in their particular contexts. Unlike many other multivariate procedures that are even more sensitive to initial estimates and require a good deal of statistical sophistication for interpretation, CART has an intuitive resonance with researcher consumers. The overriding objective of our choice of analysis methods was to facilitate readers’ concentration on our outcomes rather than having to rely on our interpretation of the results.

Institution-level evaluation: Success and withdrawal

The University of Central Florida (UCF) began a longitudinal impact study of their online and blended courses at the start of the distributed learning initiative in 1996. The collection of similar data across multiple semesters and academic years has allowed UCF to monitor trends, assess any issues that may arise, and provide continual support for both faculty and students across varying demographics. Table  1 illustrates the overall success rates in blended, online and face-to-face courses, while also reporting their variability across minority and non-minority demographics.

While success (A, B, or C grade) is not a direct reflection of learning outcomes, this overview does provide an institutional level indication of progress and possible issues of concern. BL has a slight advantage when looking at overall success and withdrawal rates. This varies by discipline and course, but generally UCF’s blended modality has evolved to be the best of both worlds, providing an opportunity for optimizing face-to-face instruction through the effective use of online components. These gains hold true across minority status. Reducing on-ground time also addresses issues that impact both students and faculty such as parking and time to reach class. In addition, UCF requires faculty to go through faculty development tailored to teaching in either blended or online modalities. This 8-week faculty development course is designed to model blended learning, encouraging faculty to redesign their course and not merely consider blended learning as a means to move face-to-face instructional modules online (Cobb et al. 2012 ; Lowe 2013 ).

Withdrawal (Table  2 ) from classes impedes students’ success and retention and can result in delayed time to degree, incurred excess credit hour fees, or lost scholarships and financial aid. Although grades are only a surrogate measure for learning, they are a strong predictor of college completion. Therefore, the impact of any new innovation on students’ grades should be a component of any evaluation. Once again, the blended modality is competitive and in some cases results in lower overall withdrawal rates than either fully online or face-to-face courses.

The students’ perceptions of their learning environments

Other potentially high-stakes indicators can be measured to determine the impact of an innovation such as blended learning on the academy. For instance, student satisfaction and attitudes can be measured through data collection protocols, including common student ratings, or student perception of instruction instruments. Given that those ratings often impact faculty evaluation, any negative reflection can derail the successful implementation and scaling of an innovation by disenfranchised instructors. In fact, early online and blended courses created a request by the UCF faculty senate to investigate their impact on faculty ratings as compared to face-to-face sections. The UCF Student Perception of Instruction form is released automatically online through the campus web portal near the end of each semester. Students receive a splash page with a link to each course’s form. Faculty receive a scripted email that they can send to students indicating the time period that the ratings form will be available. The forms close at the beginning of finals week. Faculty receive a summary of their results following the semester end.

The instrument used for this study was developed over a ten year period by the faculty senate of the University of Central Florida, recognizing the evolution of multiple course modalities including blended learning. The process involved input from several constituencies on campus (students, faculty, administrators, instructional designers, and others), in attempt to provide useful formative and summative instructional information to the university community. The final instrument was approved by resolution of the senate and, currently, is used across the university. Students’ rating of their classes and instructors comes with considerable controversy and disagreement with researchers aligning themselves on both sides of the issue. Recently, there have been a number of studies criticizing the process (Uttl et al. 2016 ; Boring et al. 2016 ; & Stark and Freishtat 2014 ). In spite of this discussion, a viable alternative has yet to emerge in higher education. So in the foreseeable future, the process is likely to continue. Therefore, with an implied faculty senate mandate this study was initiated by this team of researchers.

Prior to any analysis of the item responses collected in this campus-wide student sample, the psychometric quality (domain sampling) of the information yielded by the instrument was assessed. Initially, the reliability (internal consistency) was derived using coefficient alpha (Cronbach 1951 ). In addition, Guttman ( 1953 ) developed a theorem about item properties that leads to evidence about the quality of one’s data, demonstrating that as the domain sampling properties of items improve, the inverse of the correlation matrix among items will approach a diagonal. Subsequently, Kaiser and Rice ( 1974 ) developed the measure of sampling adequacy (MSA) that is a function of the Guttman Theorem. The index has an upper bound of one with Kaiser offering some decision rules for interpreting the value of MSA. If the value of the index is in the .80 to .99 range, the investigator has evidence of an excellent domain sample. Values in the .70s signal an acceptable result, and those in the .60s indicate data that are unacceptable. Customarily, the MSA has been used for data assessment prior to the application of any dimensionality assessments. Computation of the MSA value gave the investigators a benchmark for the construct validity of the items in this study. This procedure has been recommended by Dziuban and Shirkey ( 1974 ) prior to any latent dimension analysis and was used with the data obtained for this study. The MSA for the current instrument was .98 suggesting excellent domain sampling properties with an associated alpha reliability coefficient of .97 suggesting superior internal consistency. The psychometric properties of the instrument were excellent with both measures.

The online student ratings form presents an electronic data set each semester. These can be merged across time to create a larger data set of completed ratings for every course across each semester. In addition, captured data includes course identification variables including prefix, number, section and semester, department, college, faculty, and class size. The overall rating of effectiveness is used most heavily by departments and faculty in comparing across courses and modalities (Table  3 ).

The finally derived tree (decision rules) included only three variables—survey items that asked students to rate the instructor’s effectiveness at:

Helping students achieve course objectives,

Creating an environment that helps students learn, and

Communicating ideas and information.

None of the demographic variables associated with the courses contributed to the final model. The final rule specifies that if a student assigns an excellent rating to those three items, irrespective of their status on any other condition, the probability is .99 that an instructor will receive an overall rating of excellent. The converse is true as well. A poor rating on all three of those items will lead to a 99% chance of an instructor receiving an overall rating of poor.

Tables  4 , 5 and 6 present a demonstration of the robustness of the CART rule for variables on which it was not developed: expected course grade, desire to take the course and modality.

In each case, irrespective of the marginal probabilities, those students conforming to the rule have a virtually 100% chance of seeing the course as excellent. For instance, 27% of all students expecting to fail assigned an excellent rating to their courses, but when they conformed to the rule the percentage rose to 97%. The same finding is true when students were asked about their desire to take the course with those who strongly disagreed assigning excellent ratings to their courses 26% of the time. However, for those conforming to the rule, that category rose to 92%. When course modality is considered in the marginal sense, blended learning is rated as the preferred choice. However, from Table  6 we can observe that the rule equates student assessment of their learning experiences. If they conform to the rule, they will see excellence.

This study addressed increasingly important issues of student success, withdrawal and perception of the learning environment across multiple course modalities. Arguably these components form the crux of how we will make more effective decisions about how blended learning configures itself in the new normal. The results reported here indicate that blending maintains or increases access for most student cohorts and produces improved success rates for minority and non-minority students alike. In addition, when students express their beliefs about the effectiveness of their learning environments, blended learning enjoys the number one rank. However, upon more thorough analysis of key elements students view as important in their learning, external and demographic variables have minimal impact on those decisions. For example college (i.e. discipline) membership, course level or modality, expected grade or desire to take a particular course have little to do with their course ratings. The characteristics they view as important relate to clear establishment and progress toward course objectives, creating an effective learning environment and the instructors’ effective communication. If in their view those three elements of a course are satisfied they are virtually guaranteed to evaluate their educational experience as excellent irrespective of most other considerations. While end of course rating protocols are summative the three components have clear formative characteristics in that each one is directly related to effective pedagogy and is responsive to faculty development through units such as the faculty center for teaching and learning. We view these results as encouraging because they offer potential for improving the teaching and learning process in an educational environment that increases the pressure to become more responsive to contemporary student lifestyles.

Clearly, in this study we are dealing with complex adaptive systems that feature the emergent property. That is, their primary agents and their interactions comprise an environment that is more than the linear combination of their individual elements. Blending learning, by interacting with almost every aspect of higher education, provides opportunities and challenges that we are not able to fully anticipate.

This pedagogy alters many assumptions about the most effective way to support the educational environment. For instance, blending, like its counterpart active learning, is a personal and individual phenomenon experienced by students. Therefore, it should not be surprising that much of what we have called blended learning is, in reality, blended teaching that reflects pedagogical arrangements. Actually, the best we can do for assessing impact is to use surrogate measures such as success, grades, results of assessment protocols, and student testimony about their learning experiences. Whether or not such devices are valid indicators remains to be determined. We may be well served, however, by changing our mode of inquiry to blended teaching.

Additionally, as Norberg ( 2017 ) points out, blended learning is not new. The modality dates back, at least, to the medieval period when the technology of textbooks was introduced into the classroom where, traditionally, the professor read to the students from the only existing manuscript. Certainly, like modern technologies, books were disruptive because they altered the teaching and learning paradigm. Blended learning might be considered what Johnson describes as a slow hunch (2010). That is, an idea that evolved over a long period of time, achieving what Kaufmann ( 2000 ) describes as the adjacent possible – a realistic next step occurring in many iterations.

The search for a definition for blended learning has been productive, challenging, and, at times, daunting. The definitional continuum is constrained by Oliver and Trigwell ( 2005 ) castigation of the concept for its imprecise vagueness to Sharpe et al.’s ( 2006 ) notion that its definitional latitude enhances contextual relevance. Both extremes alter boundaries such as time, place, presence, learning hierarchies, and space. The disagreement leads us to conclude that Lakoff’s ( 2012 ) idealized cognitive models i.e. arbitrarily derived concepts (of which blended learning might be one) are necessary if we are to function effectively. However, the strong possibility exists that blended learning, like quality, is observer dependent and may not exist outside of our perceptions of the concept. This, of course, circles back to the problem of assuming that blending is a treatment effect for point hypothesis testing and meta-analysis.

Ultimately, in this article, we have tried to consider theoretical concepts and empirical findings about blended learning and their relationship to the new normal as it evolves. Unfortunately, like unresolved chaotic solutions, we cannot be sure that there is an attractor or that it will be the new normal. That being said, it seems clear that blended learning is the harbinger of substantial change in higher education and will become equally impactful in K-12 schooling and industrial training. Blended learning, because of its flexibility, allows us to maximize many positive education functions. If Floridi ( 2014 ) is correct and we are about to live in an environment where we are on the communication loop rather than in it, our educational future is about to change. However, if our results are correct and not over fit to the University of Central Florida and our theoretical speculations have some validity, the future of blended learning should encourage us about the coming changes.

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Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge the contributions of several investigators and course developers from the Center for Distributed Learning at the University of Central Florida, the McKay School of Education at Brigham Young University, and Scholars at Umea University, Sweden. These professionals contributed theoretical and practical ideas to this research project and carefully reviewed earlier versions of this manuscript. The Authors gratefully acknowledge their support and assistance.

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Dziuban, C., Graham, C.R., Moskal, P.D. et al. Blended learning: the new normal and emerging technologies. Int J Educ Technol High Educ 15 , 3 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41239-017-0087-5

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396 Research Titles About New Normal Education

thesis title about new normal education

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed almost every aspect of our life. It caused illness and death, social distancing, lockdowns, and massive job losses everywhere. Besides, the pandemic affected an enormous amount of students around the globe.

In the initial stages of the pandemic, the education sector focused on the implementation of remote learning. EdTech has been a key to the initiative, but the worldwide COVID outbreak accelerated the digitalization of distant learning. Thus, our dependency on technology became more evident during the lockdown, especially in education.

In this article, we have gathered research titles about the new normal education and all the digitalization in the sector. Our experts have also prepared some helpful tips – you might need them when collecting sources for a paper. Feel free to use them!

🔝 Top-12 Research Topics in Education

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  • #️⃣ Quantitative Research Titles
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  • Standardized tests.
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  • Remote learning & communication issues.
  • Interactions between teacher and student.
  • Socioeconomic statuses of parents.
  • Technologies & students with physical disabilities.
  • Social-emotional learning in online classes.

🌟 Excellent Research Topics About New Normal Education

  • Reasons for the dismissal of teachers from elementary schools.
  • Problem of weapons in schools .
  • Socio-economic factors of the problem of diversity in schools.
  • Creating lessons that expand the culture of students.
  • Advantages of online courses .
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  • How to apply teacher professional standards in the teacher training field?
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  • Challenges faced by students with special needs.
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#️⃣ Quantitative Research Titles About New Normal Education

  • Impact of school lockdowns on learning time in K-12 students.
  • Lack of parental involvement in education and how it affects children and their academic success .
  • The relationship between learning time and academic performance in secondary school students during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • The relationship between a school day length and academic performance in elementary school students during the pandemic.
  • Changes in school day length in higher education during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Safety issues in schools during the pandemic .
  • Measuring summer learning loss during the pandemic-related homeschooling.
  • Changes in homework time during the school lockdowns.
  • The relationship between COVID-19-related absenteeism and math performance in eighth-grade students.
  • Education online compared to traditional education .
  • Measuring students’ absence during school lockdowns.
  • How does the number of absence days affect an average student’s grade in the pandemic years?
  • The correlation between missed school days and students’ test results during the pandemic.
  • Relationship between counseling and education during the pandemic .
  • Changes in rates of dropping out of school during the pandemic.
  • Measuring dropout rates during the pandemic in children from Black (Latino, Asian) families.
  • Indicating time needed for teachers’ adaptation to online instruction during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Augmentative communication technology in education .
  • A number of online tools utilized in remote education during the pandemic: Trends in teachers from different age groups.
  • What online tools do teachers use most frequently for remote instruction during the COVID-19 crisis?
  • What devices did elementary and secondary students prefer for online education during the lockdowns?
  • E-learning evaluation and organizational performance .
  • How much time did students spend on schoolwork during the pandemic?
  • How much time did students communicate in COVID-19-related homeschooling circumstances?
  • Indicating the most frequent distractions for children studying remotely during the pandemic.
  • Online education as an effective alternative to traditional learning .
  • Students’ usage patterns of digital devices for educational and leisure activities during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Comparing the academic performance of voluntarily homeschooled children before and during the pandemic.
  • Parents’ time dedicated to homeschooled instruction for their children during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • The impact of modern technology on education in elementary schools .
  • Correlation between teachers’ participation in online training and average lesson preparation time in the pandemic years.
  • Work time spent on professional training during the pandemic in high school teachers.
  • Teachers as digital devices users: Time spent on various digital activities during the pandemic.
  • The impact of the type of reward on academic performance .
  • Calculating grade-based attendance rates in public schools during the pandemic-related online schooling.
  • Measuring the depth of emotional bonds between children and their instructors during the pandemic.
  • The COVID-19 emergency and its impact on public school budgeting.
  • Digital knowledge platforms versus traditional education systems .
  • College enrollment rates in the years of the pandemic.
  • Comparison of average grades in low-income and better-off students when learning online during the pandemic.
  • Correlation between pandemic-related food insecurity and children’s academic rates.
  • Preferable style of learning in male students .
  • Charitable food supply rates for children in low-income districts during the pandemic.
  • Student homelessness rates during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The relationship between coronavirus-related health challenges in students’ families and academic rates.
  • Underachievement among Afro-Caribbean and white boys in British education .
  • Rates of Black and Hispanic students who experienced major psychological trauma during the pandemic.
  • Impact of the federal CARES Act on K-12 students’ healthcare services maintenance during the pandemic.
  • Statistical data on students’ addressing their mental health issues via hotline services during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • The effects of dynamic assessment on listening comprehension .
  • Correlation between desktop computer/laptop possession and academic performance in online learners during the pandemic.
  • Access to the Internet at home among children from Black and Hispanic families during the pandemic.
  • Assessment of investments spent to support the education system during the coronavirus crisis.
  • Burnout in special education teachers .
  • Correlation between safety measures at schools and COVID-19 cases in students.
  • Retirement rates among teachers during the coronavirus crisis.
  • Impact of extended schedules during the pandemic on students’ academic performance in online education.
  • Do libraries provide sufficient learning support to mature students?
  • The relationship between attending summer enrichment programs and students’ average grades during the pandemic.
  • Correlation between access to online after-school programs and academic performance in high-school students during the coronavirus crisis.
  • Impact of school lockdowns on COVID-19 transmission.
  • Teacher turnover: The role of leadership .
  • The relationship between coronavirus-related remote learning and the average grade of students with special needs.
  • Measuring exam cheating in remote education during the coronavirus crisis.
  • Assessment of the gender gap in the context of online education during the pandemic.
  • The effect of students’ learning styles on their performance .
  • Dropout rates in female students during the coronavirus crisis.
  • The relationship between the COVID-19 crisis and female enrollment in universities.
  • Impact of systemic racism on Black, Latino, and Asian students during the pandemic.
  • Is online learning as good as face-to-face learning ?
  • Weeks of COVID-19-related school lockdowns in G20 countries.
  • School performance rates changes during the pandemic .
  • The relationship between COVID-19-related school closures and healthcare workforce load.
  • Online education versus class education .
  • Statistics on open educational applications usage among students during the coronavirus crisis .
  • The number of library visitors after post-pandemic reopening.
  • Indicating the growth of online course platforms during the pandemic.
  • Online learning and adult learning .
  • Measuring literacy learning outcomes in K-5 students during the coronavirus crisis.
  • Correlation between reading to a child and their literacy development during coronavirus-related homeschooling.
  • Dropout rates of university students during the pandemic.
  • High effectiveness of the incorporation of online tools into self-regulated EFL learning .
  • Effect of the coronavirus crisis on private schools’ enrollment rates.
  • Impact of the pandemic on research studies conducted by undergraduate students.
  • Undergraduate students’ integrity rates in the context of the pandemic.
  • E-learning programs in Saudi universities: Risk analysis .
  • Changes in the international student population during the pandemic years.

🎓 Qualitative Research Titles About New Normal Education

  • Students’ perceptions on barriers of online learning at Sultan Qaboos University in Oman .
  • Issue of absenteeism in student subgroups during school lockdowns.
  • The causes of absenteeism in individual students during the pandemic.
  • Legitimacy of online learning institutions .
  • The impact of remote learning on teachers’ preparation for classes during the coronavirus crisis.
  • Changes in communication strategies in students during school lockdowns.
  • Changes in parents’ attitudes toward homeschooling before and during the pandemic.
  • Research of educational change: What motivates students to learn?
  • Developing a framework for preparing teachers for online classes in pandemic-like circumstances.
  • Online instruction as a part of teachers’ professional development in the tears of the pandemic.
  • Indicating teachers’ needs in their professional training for remote instruction during the coronavirus crisis.
  • Bridge Elementary School Library: Assessment .
  • Identifying barriers to efficient online teaching among elementary instructors during the pandemic.
  • The challenge of tracking students’ attendance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • How did teachers assess students’ involvement in remote classes during the COVID-19 outbreak?
  • Education, parent, and community relations during the pandemic .
  • Importance of emotional bonds for teachers’ efficient performance in the context of coronavirus crisis.
  • Impact of children’s emotional involvement during the pandemic on their learning motivations.
  • K-12 students change their learning strategies in the pandemic-related remote context.
  • English as foreign language: Writing skills development .
  • Effects of the pandemic-related remote education on children’s emotional and social skills .
  • Framework for the development of soft skills in children in the context of pandemic-related online learning.
  • The benefits of free community college .
  • The concept of “whole-child” development in the post-pandemic era.
  • Developing a national education plan for long-run emergencies similar to the coronavirus crisis.
  • Why are more and more students taking online classes ?
  • Emergency education: Challenges, COVID-19 lessons, and perspectives.
  • Limitations of standardized assessments in the context of the pandemic-like emergency education.
  • The role of BSN students in the promotion of health .
  • How did fundamental insecurity during the coronavirus crisis affect children’s educational opportunities?
  • Schools’ strategies to conquer food insecurity in children from low-income families during the coronavirus crisis.
  • Children from low-income districts: vulnerabilities induced by the pandemic.
  • Parental involvement in second language learning .
  • Development of shelter guidelines in the pandemic-like emergency education context.
  • Coronavirus pandemic-related stress factors affecting elementary school students.
  • The issue of opportunity gaps in education during the coronavirus crisis.
  • Memory techniques in learning the English vocabulary .
  • Impact of “ Digital divide ” during the pandemic on increasing educational opportunity gaps in secondary schools.
  • Local district strategies during the coronavirus outbreak to overcome the lack of access to the Internet for students.
  • The limited value of standard tests conducted in the context of pandemic-related online education.
  • Teachers’ sense of self-efficacy during the pandemic .
  • The role of federal leadership in the preparation of schools for the pandemic-induced emergency education.
  • Schools as a safety net chain for children during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Indicating the necessary equipment needed for schools’ functioning during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Parents’ perspectives on Common Core State Standards .
  • Establishing mental and physical health support programs for children during the pandemic crisis.
  • Responding to the pandemic challenges on a school district level.
  • The role of public health experts in safety guidelines for schools in the context of the coronavirus outbreak.
  • The problem of autism among Saudi students .
  • Diagnostic assessments for students’ involvement in online education during the pandemic.
  • The pandemic lessons contributing to the development of personalized learning .
  • COVID-19-related retirement risk assessment for teachers with five or fewer years of professional experience.
  • What makes a successful teacher?
  • Indicating risks of students dropping out in the context of the national-level pandemic.
  • Development of strategies for emotional learning in the pandemic crisis circumstances.
  • Identifying efficient teaching strategies in online education during the pandemic.
  • Advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling .
  • Social distancing in the post-pandemic context: Implications and perspectives.
  • Establishing the reopening strategy for public schools after the pandemic.
  • Exam proctoring as a possible strategy to maintain integrity in online education during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Intergenerational transmission of educational values in Ireland .
  • Major challenges for academic integrity in remote education during the pandemic.
  • Gender disparities in the pandemic-induced online education for STEM students.
  • Technical challenges for STEM learners in the pandemic-induced online education.
  • Various teaching strategies for students’ learning .
  • Impact of COVID-19-related interrupted learning on student’s academic achievements.
  • Role of tech companies in overcoming online education challenges during the coronavirus crisis.
  • Copyright challenges in online education during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Information technology role in e-learning systems success .
  • Challenges of digitalization during the pandemic in emerging economies.
  • Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on international students.
  • Inclusion challenges in remote education in the years of the pandemic.
  • Knowledge management and its role in education .
  • Data security and privacy challenges in online education during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Role of teachers in supporting students’ psychological well-being in an online environment during the coronavirus crisis.
  • Indicating the optimal number and types of digital tools for online education in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Student engagement and motivation strategies during the pandemic .
  • Approaches to monitoring students’ progress in remote education in the years of the pandemic.
  • Role of self-care education for the mental well-being of online learners during the pandemic.
  • Self-regulation skills as an essential part of “new normal” education.
  • Equal opportunities for students with disabilities .
  • Role of online communities in the context of the pandemic to enhance motivation in online learners.
  • Importance of technical support for teachers and parents in delivering online education during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • School district responsibilities in the pandemic-induced emergency context.
  • Seeking and developing talents in students with learning disabilities .
  • Perspectives of developing national online education programs based on the COVID-19 lessons.
  • Effects of remote education on students’ writing skills during the pandemic.
  • Impact of online education on children’s physical activity during the pandemic.
  • Teaching strategies for students with autism .
  • Impact of remote education on students’ social anxiety during the pandemic.
  • Development of online instruction skills in K-5 teachers in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Challenges in the digitization of library resources during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Sports health education instructional program at the University of Jeddah .
  • Eliminating digital distractions in online learning: Challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and possible solutions.
  • Perspectives of hybrid education in the post-coronavirus years: Advantages and disadvantages.
  • Hybrid education model during the pandemic and its impact on schedule flexibility for students.
  • Representation of culture in EFL textbooks and learners’ preference .
  • Role of open educational resources in teachers’ adaptation to remote work during the coronavirus crisis.
  • Role of social media in providing educational resources to students in the years of the pandemic.
  • Conflicts online students encounter that promote attrition: Case study .

👩‍🎓 Thesis Titles About New Normal Education

  • Addressing the cultural disconnect in online learning for First Nations students in Canada .
  • Increasing barriers in society because of online education.
  • Remote school psychologist: Dealing with children’s depression .
  • Parental involvement in second language learning: The impact on pre-school age children .
  • Help for stressed children due to remote education.
  • Increasing social isolation of children due to online learning.
  • Stressed parents and children during remote learning.
  • Special education services in New York City public schools .
  • Online education hurts parent-child relationships.
  • Online schooling as a barrier to the socialization of children.
  • The new normal learning affects parents’ mental health.
  • Lesson plan development based on English as a Foreign Language (EFL) model .
  • Parents’ reaction to online education.
  • Lack of online learning opportunities among the poor.
  • Influence of the emotional state of the child on learning.
  • Improving the quality of educational leadership in the UK .
  • Online studying during a crisis in a family.
  • The ability of minorities to afford the transition to online education.
  • Online learning and children’s health.
  • Attitudes of students towards the use of library facilities .
  • Role of politics in addressing the challenges of online schooling.
  • Transition to regular education after remote learning: Children’s stress.
  • The psychological condition of children after online learning.
  • Chinese, Japanese, and US language socialization .
  • Academic performance in children who experienced parental death to COVID-19.
  • The effect of COVID-19 on children’s academic performance.
  • Impact of lockdown on academic performance of K-12 students.
  • Problems of a student new to online learning .
  • Influence of vaccination on learning opportunities at schools.
  • The effects of hybrid learning model on children’s academic performance.
  • Impact of the pandemic on children’s perceptions of higher education.
  • Motivation of student teachers in China and the UK .
  • The effects of returning to in-person learning.
  • Teacher’s help as respond to pandemic-related trauma in children.
  • Safety measures at schools that return to in-person learning.
  • Reading performance gap reduction among ELL .
  • Support programs in school after the pandemic.
  • Consequences of the pandemic in the transition to normal education.
  • The impact of online education on regular learning.
  • High school teachers’ perceptions concerning technology integration into the curriculum .
  • Children’s well-being in online learning environments.
  • Hospitalization rates during regular and online schooling.
  • How often do kids skip online classes?
  • Evaluation of the clinical placement experience of ODP students .
  • Children’s autonomy before and after online learning.
  • Mental state during studying in a pandemic.
  • Parental abuse during online learning.
  • Collaborative learning in asynchronous online learning .

When working on an academic paper , conduct research. Yet, it won’t be a problem for a new normal education essay with the tips you see below.

Here is how you examine and pick sources for your paper:

  • the amount of time you have,
  • what types of sources are you expected to include,
  • and how many pages you need to write.All these will help you decide the scope of research you’re willing to conduct. If you have any questions or concerns, consult with the professor who has given you the task. Thus, you won’t have issues with picking the topic from our list above.
  • The New Typical Culture of Education, co-authored by Shay M. Biggs and Dana Walker.
  • The New Normal: Tales from International School Teachers, written by Matt Minor and Kevin Duncan .
  • Alternative Universities: Speculative Design for Innovation in Higher Education, written by David J. Staley.There are plenty of online resources for teachers and students. Feel free to check them out too.
  • R elevance,
  • A uthority,
  • P urpose.Consider whether each source you’ve picked corresponds to these criteria. And don’t forget that they should contain arguments you’re willing to summarize and cite.
  • Formulate your thesis. Now you have to come up with a thesis statement . It is a sentence that states the message and purpose of the paper. Usually, it is at the end of the introduction. It should allow your reader to understand what you will be arguing. For the topic on interactions between teachers and students, a thesis statement can be the following: The lack of personal communication between teacher and student negatively affects the learning experience. If your thesis lacks clarity or you simply dislike how it sounds, make sure to rephrase and polish it until it’s perfect. The statement affects the whole paper, so you want it to be flawless.
  • Decide on the arguments. After you take a position on your topic and formulate the thesis statement , consider your audience. Ask yourself who the readers are. Or you can question the instructor who the target audience is. Select a piece of clear and convincing evidence for your arguments and anticipate what your reader’s counterarguments might be. A good writer will expect the objections and address them in the body of the work.
  • Choose quotes to cite. Selecting appropriate examples is often essential to finishing the research. It is the step that reflects whether you’ve chosen useful sources or not. And it’s your last chance to pick new resources. You provide quotes in the text to engage the reader and prove your point. Besides, good supporting evidence makes your audience continue reading the paper. Thus, pick them from the selected sources and cite them accordingly. Remember that the quotes should add something to your arguments and not merely repeat what was previously said.

Thank you for reading! If you need to listen to your essay and none of your friends is available, you can use the read-my-paper tool . This text-to-speech instrument will help you improve the structure of the text, emphasize the arguments, and point out errors in the paper.

  • Transitioning to the “New Normal” of Learning in Unpredictable Times – Hew, K. F., Jia, C., Gonda, D. E., & Bai, S., SpringerOpen
  • Online Distance Learning: The New Normal In Education — eLearning Industry
  • Designing the New Normal — Educause
  • The “New Normal” in Education — Pacheco, J. A., SpringerLink
  • Back to School amidst the New Normal — KFF
  • A New Way of Teaching and Learning for the New-Normal — UNICEF
  • Research for Essay Writing in English — uOttaw
  • Steps of the Research Process — Human Kinetics

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Research Topics

Back to school: research topics on education during covid-19.

thesis title about new normal education

What does school look like in the second year of the pandemic? Explore our Research Topics spanning from the digital transformation of education and school feeding programs to children's development in the home learning environment and educational leadership during the Covid-19 crisis.

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Well-Being of School Teachers in Their Work Environment

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Closure and Reopening of Schools and Universities During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Prevention and Control Measures, Support Strategies for Vulnerable Students and Psychosocial Needs

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Children's Competencies Development in the Home Learning Environment

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Cultural Changes in Instructional Practices Due to Covid-19

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Covid-19: School and Community Feeding Programs for Children and Young People

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Subjective Well-being in Online and Mixed Educational Settings

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COVID-19 and the Educational Response: New Educational and Social Realities

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Education Leadership and the COVID-19 Crisis

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Higher Education Dropout After COVID-19: New Strategies to Optimize Success

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Promoting Motor Development in Children in the COVID-19 era: Science and Applications

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COVID-19: Mid- and Long-Term Educational and Psychological Consequences for Students and Educators

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The “new normal” in education

José augusto pacheco.

Research Centre on Education (CIEd), Institute of Education, University of Minho, Campus de Gualtar, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal

Effects rippling from the Covid 19 emergency include changes in the personal, social, and economic spheres. Are there continuities as well? Based on a literature review (primarily of UNESCO and OECD publications and their critics), the following question is posed: How can one resist the slide into passive technologization and seize the possibility of achieving a responsive, ethical, humane, and international-transformational approach to education? Technologization, while an ongoing and evidently ever-intensifying tendency, is not without its critics, especially those associated with the humanistic tradition in education. This is more apparent now that curriculum is being conceived as a complicated conversation. In a complex and unequal world, the well-being of students requires diverse and even conflicting visions of the world, its problems, and the forms of knowledge we study to address them.

From the past, we might find our way to a future unforeclosed by the present (Pinar 2019 , p. 12)

Texts regarding this pandemic’s consequences are appearing at an accelerating pace, with constant coverage by news outlets, as well as philosophical, historical, and sociological reflections by public intellectuals worldwide. Ripples from the current emergency have spread into the personal, social, and economic spheres. But are there continuities as well? Is the pandemic creating a “new normal” in education or simply accenting what has already become normal—an accelerating tendency toward technologization? This tendency presents an important challenge for education, requiring a critical vision of post-Covid-19 curriculum. One must pose an additional question: How can one resist the slide into passive technologization and seize the possibility of achieving a responsive, ethical, humane, and international-transformational approach to education?

The ongoing present

Unpredicted except through science fiction, movie scripts, and novels, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed everyday life, caused wide-scale illness and death, and provoked preventive measures like social distancing, confinement, and school closures. It has struck disproportionately at those who provide essential services and those unable to work remotely; in an already precarious marketplace, unemployment is having terrible consequences. The pandemic is now the chief sign of both globalization and deglobalization, as nations close borders and airports sit empty. There are no departures, no delays. Everything has changed, and no one was prepared. The pandemic has disrupted the flow of time and unraveled what was normal. It is the emergence of an event (think of Badiou 2009 ) that restarts time, creates radical ruptures and imbalances, and brings about a contingency that becomes a new necessity (Žižek 2020 ). Such events question the ongoing present.

The pandemic has reshuffled our needs, which are now based on a new order. Whether of short or medium duration, will it end in a return to the “normal” or move us into an unknown future? Žižek contends that “there is no return to normal, the new ‘normal’ will have to be constructed on the ruins of our old lives, or we will find ourselves in a new barbarism whose signs are already clearly discernible” (Žižek 2020 , p. 3).

Despite public health measures, Gil ( 2020 ) observes that the pandemic has so far generated no physical or spiritual upheaval and no universal awareness of the need to change how we live. Techno-capitalism continues to work, though perhaps not as before. Online sales increase and professionals work from home, thereby creating new digital subjectivities and economies. We will not escape the pull of self-preservation, self-regeneration, and the metamorphosis of capitalism, which will continue its permanent revolution (Wells 2020 ). In adapting subjectivities to the recent demands of digital capitalism, the pandemic can catapult us into an even more thoroughly digitalized space, a trend that artificial intelligence will accelerate. These new subjectivities will exhibit increased capacities for voluntary obedience and programmable functioning abilities, leading to a “new normal” benefiting those who are savvy in software-structured social relationships.

The Covid-19 pandemic has submerged us all in the tsunami-like economies of the Cloud. There is an intensification of the allegro rhythm of adaptation to the Internet of Things (Davies, Beauchamp, Davies, and Price 2019 ). For Latour ( 2020 ), the pandemic has become internalized as an ongoing state of emergency preparing us for the next crisis—climate change—for which we will see just how (un)prepared we are. Along with inequality, climate is one of the most pressing issues of our time (OECD 2019a , 2019b ) and therefore its representation in the curriculum is of public, not just private, interest.

Education both reflects what is now and anticipates what is next, recoding private and public responses to crises. Žižek ( 2020 , p. 117) suggests in this regard that “values and beliefs should not be simply ignored: they play an important role and should be treated as a specific mode of assemblage”. As such, education is (post)human and has its (over)determination by beliefs and values, themselves encoded in technology.

Will the pandemic detoxify our addiction to technology, or will it cement that addiction? Pinar ( 2019 , pp. 14–15) suggests that “this idea—that technological advance can overcome cultural, economic, educational crises—has faded into the background. It is our assumption. Our faith prompts the purchase of new technology and assures we can cure climate change”. While waiting for technology to rescue us, we might also remember to look at ourselves. In this way, the pandemic could be a starting point for a more sustainable environment. An intelligent response to climate change, reactivating the humanistic tradition in education, would reaffirm the right to such an education as a global common good (UNESCO 2015a , p. 10):

This approach emphasizes the inclusion of people who are often subject to discrimination – women and girls, indigenous people, persons with disabilities, migrants, the elderly and people living in countries affected by conflict. It requires an open and flexible approach to learning that is both lifelong and life-wide: an approach that provides the opportunity for all to realize their potential for a sustainable future and a life of dignity”.

Pinar ( 2004 , 2009 , 2019 ) concevies of curriculum as a complicated conversation. Central to that complicated conversation is climate change, which drives the need for education for sustainable development and the grooming of new global citizens with sustainable lifestyles and exemplary environmental custodianship (Marope 2017 ).

The new normal

The pandemic ushers in a “new” normal, in which digitization enforces ways of working and learning. It forces education further into technologization, a development already well underway, fueled by commercialism and the reigning market ideology. Daniel ( 2020 , p. 1) notes that “many institutions had plans to make greater use of technology in teaching, but the outbreak of Covid-19 has meant that changes intended to occur over months or years had to be implemented in a few days”.

Is this “new normal” really new or is it a reiteration of the old?

Digital technologies are the visible face of the immediate changes taking place in society—the commercial society—and schools. The immediate solution to the closure of schools is distance learning, with platforms proliferating and knowledge demoted to information to be exchanged (Koopman 2019 ), like a product, a phenomenon predicted decades ago by Lyotard ( 1984 , pp. 4-5):

Knowledge is and will be produced in order to be sold, it is and will be consumed in order to be valued in a new production: in both cases, the goal is exchange. Knowledge ceases to be an end in itself, it loses its use-value.

Digital technologies and economic rationality based on performance are significant determinants of the commercialization of learning. Moving from physical face-to-face presence to virtual contact (synchronous and asynchronous), the learning space becomes disembodied, virtual not actual, impacting both student learning and the organization of schools, which are no longer buildings but websites. Such change is not only coterminous with the pandemic, as the Education 2030 Agenda (UNESCO 2015b ) testified; preceding that was the Delors Report (Delors 1996 ), which recoded education as lifelong learning that included learning to know, learning to do, learning to be, and learning to live together.

Transnational organizations have specified competences for the 21st century and, in the process, have defined disciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge that encourages global citizenship, through “the supra curriculum at the global, regional, or international comparative level” (Marope 2017 , p. 10). According to UNESCO ( 2017 ):

While the world may be increasingly interconnected, human rights violations, inequality and poverty still threaten peace and sustainability. Global Citizenship Education (GCED) is UNESCO’s response to these challenges. It works by empowering learners of all ages to understand that these are global, not local issues and to become active promoters of more peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, secure and sustainable societies.

These transnational initiatives have not only acknowledged traditional school subjects but have also shifted the curriculum toward timely topics dedicated to understanding the emergencies of the day (Spiller 2017 ). However, for the OECD ( 2019a ), the “new normal” accentuates two ideas: competence-based education, which includes the knowledges identified in the Delors Report , and a new learning framework structured by digital technologies. The Covid-19 pandemic does not change this logic. Indeed, the interdisciplinary skills framework, content and standardized testing associated with the Programme for International Student Assessment of the OECD has become the most powerful tool for prescribing the curriculum. Educationally, “the universal homogenous ‘state’ exists already. Globalization of standardized testing—the most prominent instance of threatening to restructure schools into technological sites of political socialization, conditioning children for compliance to a universal homogeneous state of mind” (Pinar 2019 , p. 2).

In addition to cognitive and practical skills, this “homogenous state of mind” rests on so-called social and emotional skills in the service of learning to live together, affirming global citizenship, and presumably returning agency to students and teachers (OECD 2019a ). According to Marope ( 2017 , p. 22), “this calls for higher flexibility in curriculum development, and for the need to leave space for curricula interpretation, contextualization, and creativity at the micro level of teachers and classrooms”. Heterogeneity is thus enlisted in the service of both economic homogeneity and disciplinary knowledge. Disciplinary knowledge is presented as universal and endowed with social, moral, and cognitive authority. Operational and effective knowledge becomes central, due to the influence of financial lobbies, thereby ensuring that the logic of the market is brought into the practices of schools. As Pestre ( 2013 , p. 21) observed, “the nature of this knowledge is new: what matters is that it makes hic et nunc the action, its effect and not its understanding”. Its functionality follows (presumably) data and evidence-based management.

A new language is thus imposed on education and the curriculum. Such enforced installation of performative language and Big Data lead to effective and profitable operations in a vast market concerned with competence in operational skills (Lyotard 1984 ). This “new normal” curriculum is said to be more horizontal and less hierarchical and radically polycentric with problem-solving produced through social networks, NGOs, transnational organizations, and think tanks (Pestre 2013 ; Williamson 2013 , 2017 ). Untouched by the pandemic, the “new (old) normal” remains based on disciplinary knowledge and enmeshed in the discourse of standards and accountability in education.

Such enforced commercialism reflects and reinforces economic globalization. Pinar ( 2011 , p. 30) worries that “the globalization of instrumental rationality in education threatens the very existence of education itself”. In his theory, commercialism and the technical instrumentality by which homogenization advances erase education as an embodied experience and the curriculum as a humanistic project. It is a time in which the humanities are devalued as well, as acknowledged by Pinar ( 2019 , p. 19): “In the United States [and in the world] not only does economics replace education—STEM replace the liberal arts as central to the curriculum—there are even politicians who attack the liberal arts as subversive and irrelevant…it can be more precisely characterized as reckless rhetoric of a know-nothing populism”. Replacing in-person dialogical encounters and the educational cultivation of the person (via Bildung and currere ), digital technologies are creating uniformity of learning spaces, in spite of their individualistic tendencies. Of course, education occurs outside schools—and on occasion in schools—but this causal displacement of the centrality of the school implies a devaluation of academic knowledge in the name of diversification of learning spaces.

In society, education, and specifically in the curriculum, the pandemic has brought nothing new but rather has accelerated already existing trends that can be summarized as technologization. Those who can work “remotely” exercise their privilege, since they can exploit an increasingly digital society. They themselves are changed in the process, as their own subjectivities are digitalized, thus predisposing them to a “curriculum of things” (a term coined by Laist ( 2016 ) to describe an object-oriented pedagogical approach), which is organized not around knowledge but information (Koopman 2019 ; Couldry and Mejias 2019 ). This (old) “new normal” was advanced by the OECD, among other international organizations, thus precipitating what some see as “a dynamic and transformative articulation of collective expectations of the purpose, quality, and relevance of education and learning to holistic, inclusive, just, peaceful, and sustainable development, and to the well-being and fulfilment of current and future generations” (Marope 2017 , p. 13). Covid-19, illiberal democracy, economic nationalism, and inaction on climate change, all upend this promise.

Understanding the psychological and cultural complexity of the curriculum is crucial. Without appreciating the infinity of responses students have to what they study, one cannot engage in the complicated conversation that is the curriculum. There must be an affirmation of “not only the individualism of a person’s experience but [of what is] underlining the significance of a person’s response to a course of study that has been designed to ignore individuality in order to buttress nation, religion, ethnicity, family, and gender” (Grumet 2017 , p. 77). Rather than promoting neuroscience as the answer to the problems of curriculum and pedagogy, it is long-past time for rethinking curriculum development and addressing the canonical curriculum question: What knowledge is of most worth from a humanistic perspective that is structured by complicated conversation (UNESCO 2015a ; Pinar 2004 , 2019 )? It promotes respect for diversity and rejection of all forms of (cultural) hegemony, stereotypes, and biases (Pacheco 2009 , 2017 ).

Revisiting the curriculum in the Covid-19 era then expresses the fallacy of the “new normal” but also represents a particular opportunity to promote a different path forward.

Looking to the post-Covid-19 curriculum

Based on the notion of curriculum as a complicated conversation, as proposed by Pinar ( 2004 ), the post-Covid-19 curriculum can seize the possibility of achieving a responsive, ethical, humane education, one which requires a humanistic and internationally aware reconceptualization of curriculum.

While beliefs and values are anchored in social and individual practices (Pinar 2019 , p. 15), education extracts them for critique and reconsideration. For example, freedom and tolerance are not neutral but normative practices, however ideology-free policymakers imagine them to be.

That same sleight-of-hand—value neutrality in the service of a certain normativity—is evident in a digital concept of society as a relationship between humans and non-humans (or posthumans), a relationship not only mediated by but encapsulated within technology: machines interfacing with other machines. This is not merely a technological change, as if it were a quarantined domain severed from society. Technologization is a totalizing digitalization of human experience that includes the structures of society. It is less social than economic, with social bonds now recoded as financial transactions sutured by software. Now that subjectivity is digitalized, the human face has become an exclusively economic one that fabricates the fantasy of rational and free agents—always self-interested—operating in supposedly free markets. Oddly enough, there is no place for a vision of humanistic and internationally aware change. The technological dimension of curriculum is assumed to be the primary area of change, which has been deeply and totally imposed by global standards. The worldwide pandemic supports arguments for imposing forms of control (Žižek 2020 ), including the geolocation of infected people and the suspension—in a state of exception—of civil liberties.

By destroying democracy, the technology of control leads to totalitarianism and barbarism, ending tolerance, difference, and diversity. Remembrance and memory are needed so that historical fascisms (Eley 2020 ) are not repeated, albeit in new disguises (Adorno 2011 ). Technologized education enhances efficiency and ensures uniformity, while presuming objectivity to the detriment of human reflection and singularity. It imposes the running data of the Curriculum of Things and eschews intellectual endeavor, critical attitude, and self-reflexivity.

For those who advocate the primacy of technology and the so-called “free market”, the pandemic represents opportunities not only for profit but also for confirmation of the pervasiveness of human error and proof of the efficiency of the non-human, i.e., the inhuman technology. What may possibly protect children from this inhumanity and their commodification, as human capital, is a humane or humanistic education that contradicts their commodification.

The decontextualized technical vocabulary in use in a market society produces an undifferentiated image in which people are blinded to nuance, distinction, and subtlety. For Pestre, concepts associated with efficiency convey the primacy of economic activity to the exclusion, for instance, of ethics, since those concepts devalue historic (if unrealized) commitments to equality and fraternity by instead emphasizing economic freedom and the autonomy of self-interested individuals. Constructing education as solely economic and technological constitutes a movement toward total efficiency through the installation of uniformity of behavior, devaluing diversity and human creativity.

Erased from the screen is any image of public education as a space of freedom, or as Macdonald ( 1995 , p. 38) holds, any image or concept of “the dignity and integrity of each human”. Instead, what we face is the post-human and the undisputed reign of instrumental reality, where the ends justify the means and human realization is reduced to the consumption of goods and experiences. As Pinar ( 2019 , p. 7) observes: “In the private sphere…. freedom is recast as a choice of consumer goods; in the public sphere, it converts to control and the demand that freedom flourish, so that whatever is profitable can be pursued”. Such “negative” freedom—freedom from constraint—ignores “positive” freedom, which requires us to contemplate—in ethical and spiritual terms—what that freedom is for. To contemplate what freedom is for requires “critical and comprehensive knowledge” (Pestre 2013 , p. 39) not only instrumental and technical knowledge. The humanities and the arts would reoccupy the center of such a curriculum and not be related to its margins (Westbury 2008 ), acknowledging that what is studied within schools is a complicated conversation among those present—including oneself, one’s ancestors, and those yet to be born (Pinar 2004 ).

In an era of unconstrained technologization, the challenge facing the curriculum is coding and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), with technology dislodging those subjects related to the human. This is not a classical curriculum (although it could be) but one focused on the emergencies of the moment–namely, climate change, the pandemic, mass migration, right-wing populism, and economic inequality. These timely topics, which in secondary school could be taught as short courses and at the elementary level as thematic units, would be informed by the traditional school subjects (yes, including STEM). Such a reorganization of the curriculum would allow students to see how academic knowledge enables them to understand what is happening to them and their parents in their own regions and globally. Such a cosmopolitan curriculum would prepare children to become citizens not only of their own nations but of the world. This citizenship would simultaneously be subjective and social, singular and universal (Marope 2020 ). Pinar ( 2019 , p. 5) reminds us that “the division between private and public was first blurred then erased by technology”:

No longer public, let alone sacred, morality becomes a matter of privately held values, sometimes monetized as commodities, statements of personal preference, often ornamental, sometimes self-servingly instrumental. Whatever their function, values were to be confined to the private sphere. The public sphere was no longer the civic square but rather, the marketplace, the site where one purchased whatever one valued.

New technological spaces are the universal center for (in)human values. The civic square is now Amazon, Alibaba, Twitter, WeChat, and other global online corporations. The facts of our human condition—a century-old phrase uncanny in its echoes today—can be studied in schools as an interdisciplinary complicated conversation about public issues that eclipse private ones (Pinar 2019 ), including social injustice, inequality, democracy, climate change, refugees, immigrants, and minority groups. Understood as a responsive, ethical, humane and transformational international educational approach, such a post-Covid-19 curriculum could be a “force for social equity, justice, cohesion, stability, and peace” (Marope 2017 , p. 32). “Unchosen” is certainly the adjective describing our obligations now, as we are surrounded by death and dying and threatened by privation or even starvation, as economies collapse and food-supply chains are broken. The pandemic may not mean deglobalization, but it surely accentuates it, as national borders are closed, international travel is suspended, and international trade is impacted by the accompanying economic crisis. On the other hand, economic globalization could return even stronger, as could the globalization of education systems. The “new normal” in education is the technological order—a passive technologization—and its expansion continues uncontested and even accelerated by the pandemic.

Two Greek concepts, kronos and kairos , allow a discussion of contrasts between the quantitative and the qualitative in education. Echoing the ancient notion of kronos are the technologically structured curriculum values of quantity and performance, which are always assessed by a standardized accountability system enforcing an “ideology of achievement”. “While kronos refers to chronological or sequential time, kairos refers to time that might require waiting patiently for a long time or immediate and rapid action; which course of action one chooses will depend on the particular situation” (Lahtinen 2009 , p. 252).

For Macdonald ( 1995 , p. 51), “the central ideology of the schools is the ideology of achievement …[It] is a quantitative ideology, for even to attempt to assess quality must be quantified under this ideology, and the educational process is perceived as a technically monitored quality control process”.

Self-evaluation subjectively internalizes what is useful and in conformity with the techno-economy and its so-called standards, increasingly enforcing technical (software) forms. If recoded as the Internet of Things, this remains a curriculum in allegiance with “order and control” (Doll 2013 , p. 314) School knowledge is reduced to an instrument for economic success, employing compulsory collaboration to ensure group think and conformity. Intertwined with the Internet of Things, technological subjectivity becomes embedded in software, redesigned for effectiveness, i.e., or use-value (as Lyotard predicted).

The Curriculum of Things dominates the Internet, which is simultaneously an object and a thing (see Heidegger 1967 , 1971 , 1977 ), a powerful “technological tool for the process of knowledge building” (Means 2008 , p. 137). Online learning occupies the subjective zone between the “curriculum-as-planned” and the “curriculum-as-lived” (Pinar 2019 , p. 23). The world of the curriculum-as-lived fades, as the screen shifts and children are enmeshed in an ocularcentric system of accountability and instrumentality.

In contrast to kronos , the Greek concept of kairos implies lived time or even slow time (Koepnick 2014 ), time that is “self-reflective” (Macdonald 1995 , p. 103) and autobiographical (Pinar 2009 , 2004), thus inspiring “curriculum improvisation” (Aoki 2011 , p. 375), while emphasizing “the plurality of subjectivities” (Grumet 2017 , p. 80). Kairos emphasizes singularity and acknowledges particularities; it is skeptical of similarities. For Shew ( 2013 , p. 48), “ kairos is that which opens an originary experience—of the divine, perhaps, but also of life or being. Thought as such, kairos as a formative happening—an opportune moment, crisis, circumstance, event—imposes its own sense of measure on time”. So conceived, curriculum can become a complicated conversation that occurs not in chronological time but in its own time. Such dialogue is not neutral, apolitical, or timeless. It focuses on the present and is intrinsically subjective, even in public space, as Pinar ( 2019 , p. 12) writes: “its site is subjectivity as one attunes oneself to what one is experiencing, yes to its immediacy and specificity but also to its situatedness, relatedness, including to what lies beyond it and not only spatially but temporally”.

Kairos is, then, the uniqueness of time that converts curriculum into a complicated conversation, one that includes the subjective reconstruction of learning as a consciousness of everyday life, encouraging the inner activism of quietude and disquietude. Writing about eternity, as an orientation towards the future, Pinar ( 2019 , p. 2) argues that “the second side [the first is contemplation] of such consciousness is immersion in daily life, the activism of quietude – for example, ethical engagement with others”. We add disquietude now, following the work of the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa. Disquietude is a moment of eternity: “Sometimes I think I’ll never leave ‘Douradores’ Street. And having written this, it seems to me eternity. Neither pleasure, nor glory, nor power. Freedom, only freedom” (Pesssoa 1991 ).

The disquietude conversation is simultaneously individual and public. It establishes an international space both deglobalized and autonomous, a source of responsive, ethical, and humane encounter. No longer entranced by the distracting dynamic stasis of image-after-image on the screen, the student can face what is his or her emplacement in the physical and natural world, as well as the technological world. The student can become present as a person, here and now, simultaneously historical and timeless.

Conclusions

Slow down and linger should be our motto now. A slogan yes, but it also represents a political, as well as a psychological resistance to the acceleration of time (Berg and Seeber 2016 )—an acceleration that the pandemic has intensified. Covid-19 has moved curriculum online, forcing children physically apart from each other and from their teachers and especially from the in-person dialogical encounters that classrooms can provide. The public space disappears into the pre-designed screen space that software allows, and the machine now becomes the material basis for a curriculum of things, not persons. Like the virus, the pandemic curriculum becomes embedded in devices that technologize our children.

Although one hundred years old, the images created in Modern Times by Charlie Chaplin return, less humorous this time than emblematic of our intensifying subjection to technological necessity. It “would seem to leave us as cogs in the machine, ourselves like moving parts, we keep functioning efficiently, increasing productivity calculating the creative destruction of what is, the human now materialized (de)vices ensnaring us in convenience, connectivity, calculation” (Pinar 2019 , p. 9). Post-human, as many would say.

Technology supports standardized testing and enforces software-designed conformity and never-ending self-evaluation, while all the time erasing lived, embodied experience and intellectual independence. Ignoring the evidence, others are sure that technology can function differently: “Given the potential of information and communication technologies, the teacher should now be a guide who enables learners, from early childhood throughout their learning trajectories, to develop and advance through the constantly expanding maze of knowledge” (UNESCO 2015a , p. 51). Would that it were so.

The canonical question—What knowledge is of most worth?—is open-ended and contentious. In a technologized world, providing for the well-being of children is not obvious, as well-being is embedded in ancient, non-neoliberal visions of the world. “Education is everybody’s business”, Pinar ( 2019 , p. 2) points out, as it fosters “responsible citizenship and solidarity in a global world” (UNESCO 2015a , p. 66), resisting inequality and the exclusion, for example, of migrant groups, refugees, and even those who live below or on the edge of poverty.

In this fast-moving digital world, education needs to be inclusive but not conformist. As the United Nations ( 2015 ) declares, education should ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. “The coming years will be a vital period to save the planet and to achieve sustainable, inclusive human development” (United Nations 2019 , p. 64). Is such sustainable, inclusive human development achievable through technologization? Can technology succeed where religion has failed?

Despite its contradictions and economic emphases, public education has one clear obligation—to create embodied encounters of learning through curriculum conceived as a complicated conversation. Such a conception acknowledges the worldliness of a cosmopolitan curriculum as it affirms the personification of the individual (Pinar 2011 ). As noted by Grumet ( 2017 , p. 89), “as a form of ethics, there is a responsibility to participate in conversation”. Certainly, it is necessary to ask over and over again the canonical curriculum question: What knowledge is of most worth?

If time, technology and teaching are moving images of eternity, curriculum and pedagogy are also, both ‘moving’ and ‘images’ but not an explicit, empirical, or exact representation of eternity…if reality is an endless series of ‘moving images’, the canonical curriculum question—What knowledge is of most worth?—cannot be settled for all time by declaring one set of subjects eternally important” (Pinar 2019 , p. 12).

In a complicated conversation, the curriculum is not a fixed image sliding into a passive technologization. As a “moving image”, the curriculum constitutes a politics of presence, an ongoing expression of subjectivity (Grumet 2017 ) that affirms the infinity of reality: “Shifting one’s attitude from ‘reducing’ complexity to ‘embracing’ what is always already present in relations and interactions may lead to thinking complexly, abiding happily with mystery” (Doll 2012 , p. 172). Describing the dialogical encounter characterizing conceived curriculum, as a complicated conversation, Pinar explains that this moment of dialogue “is not only place-sensitive (perhaps classroom centered) but also within oneself”, because “the educational significance of subject matter is that it enables the student to learn from actual embodied experience, an outcome that cannot always be engineered” (Pinar 2019 , pp. 12–13). Lived experience is not technological. So, “the curriculum of the future is not just a matter of defining content and official knowledge. It is about creating, sculpting, and finessing minds, mentalities, and identities, promoting style of thought about humans, or ‘mashing up’ and ‘making up’ the future of people” (Williamson 2013 , p. 113).

Yes, we need to linger and take time to contemplate the curriculum question. Only in this way will we share what is common and distinctive in our experience of the current pandemic by changing our time and our learning to foreclose on our future. Curriculum conceived as a complicated conversation restarts historical not screen time; it enacts the private and public as distinguishable, not fused in a computer screen. That is the “new normal”.

is full professor in the Department of Curriculum Studies and Educational Technology (Institute of Education, University of Minho, Portugal). His research focuses on curriculum theory, curriculum politics, and teacher training and evaluation. Presently, he is director of the PhD Science Education Program of the University of Minho, member of the Advisory Board of the Organization of Ibero-American Studies, director of the European Journal of Curriculum Studies, and director of the European Association on Curriculum Studies.

My thanks to William F. Pinar. Friendship is another moving image of eternity. I am grateful to the anonymous reviewer. This work is financed by national funds through the FCT - Foundation for Science and Technology, under the project PTDC / CED-EDG / 30410/2017, Centre for Research in Education, Institute of Education, University of Minho.

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Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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The 'new normal': The future of education after Covid–19

There has been significant focus on ‘recovering’ the existing system but there is also an opportunity to ‘build back better’. This research has identified three areas where the pandemic has the potential to open up new conversations about the future of schooling in England. These can be summarised as:

  • a conversation about how our education system can prepare children for life, not just exams
  • a conversation about where and how learning takes place – as well as who is involved in it
  • a conversation about the need to tackle inequalities outside, as well as inside, the classroom.

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24 Examples Of Great Dissertation Titles On Education

Because students are asking for examples of great dissertation titles geared towards education and pertinent sections of the industry, I have created a list of twenty-four excellent topics and concepts that could be adapted by any student to become a superb paper. It is advisable to attempt as much of the topics as possible in order to get the most out of this exercise for practice is the key to excelling in this field of study relating to dissertations.

The list below may will contain certain topics or subject matter that some students would find a bit frustrating and I encourage that student to tackle those titles first. When you approach the work like that you can now prepare your mind for the uninteresting assignments you are sure to get during your school life.

  • The value of social interaction in the development of good work ethics in young children.
  • The decision to home school versus public schooling. What are the benefits?
  • How teachers can affect the ability of a student to achieve their full potential.
  • The difference in persons that went to single sex schools and those that attended co-ed schools.
  • Ways the current education system can be improved easily.
  • The importance of homework activities to students.
  • Teachers must be selected based on stricter requirements.
  • All teachers must be required to be parents in order to qualify to teach.
  • Students should be allowed to select their professions from a younger age.
  • The effect religious beliefs have on the education system.
  • Why getting a degree is a waste of time.
  • Schools should be designed to facilitate more subject areas, rather than the common academic set.
  • The value of motivation to a young student.
  • The school environment does not fully stimulate the mind of a hidden genius.
  • The education system does not fully prepare a student for the real world environment.
  • Nothing you learn in school will ever be of use to you.
  • Why are students forced to engage in useless studies that they will never pursue?
  • If more students are exposed to lab and experimental activities, there would be less drop outs.
  • Current education systems are designed to snuff out individuality.
  • The way we determine IQ is limited and flawed.
  • Teachers are not the same as they were a generation ago.
  • Students that commute to school are at a disadvantage.
  • Racism exists in schools and should be addressed.
  • More physical activities should be included in the academic syllabus.

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Key notes to remember when crafting your PhD paper is to always be aware of who your audience is and the direction you are trying to go with it. A lot of people make mistakes by randomly writing and not giving much thought beforehand.

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COMMENTS

  1. The "new normal" in education

    The "new normal" in education Viewpoints/ Controversies Published: 24 November 2020 Volume 51 , pages 3-14, ( 2021 ) Cite this article Download PDF PROSPECTS Aims and scope Submit manuscript José Augusto Pacheco 343k Accesses 45 Citations 5 Altmetric Explore all metrics Abstract

  2. THE NEW NORMAL IN EDUCATION: A CHALLENGE TO THE PRIVATE ...

    the new normal in education. This part needs strategic planning and coor dination with the stakeholders in order to come up with a comprehensive contents as per DepEd guidelines.

  3. Modular Distance Learning in the New Normal Education Amidst Covid-19

    Abstract. Education in the new normal is a challenging task in the Philippines in an attempt to push through education amidst the deadly pandemic caused by covid-19. The Department of Education ...

  4. Behavior and Attitude of Students in the New Normal ...

    Abstract Behavior and attitude of students in the new normal perspectives have an impact in their learning process. It contributes to self-determination in the new normal classes and...

  5. Covid-19 and Beyond: From (Forced) Remote Teaching and ...

    The COVID-19 pandemic brought extraordinary disruption to the higher education (HE) landscape, with campuses closing everywhere seemingly overnight. The speed with which faculty were making the (forced) shift to remote teaching was astounding and unparalleled, and complicated by the fact that such "emergency remote teaching" in response to a crisis bears little resemblance to deliberately ...

  6. Transitioning to the "new normal" of learning in unpredictable times

    The COVID-19 outbreak has compelled many universities to immediately switch to the online delivery of lessons. Many instructors, however, have found developing effective online lessons in a very short period of time very stressful and difficult. This study describes how we successfully addressed this crisis by transforming two conventional flipped classes into fully online flipped classes with ...

  7. Blended learning: the new normal and emerging technologies

    Blended learning and research issues. Blended learning (BL), or the integration of face-to-face and online instruction (Graham 2013), is widely adopted across higher education with some scholars referring to it as the "new traditional model" (Ross and Gage 2006, p. 167) or the "new normal" in course delivery (Norberg et al. 2011, p. 207).). However, tracking the accurate extent of its ...

  8. Education Sciences

    This paper explores the student learning experience using technology as an e-learning tool during the COVID-19 pandemic. This article utilized qualitative methods to examine the quality of student learning using deep and surface approaches to understand what influences student engagement with technology. Interviews were conducted with 21 students from various academic majors using deductive ...

  9. COVID-19 and the Educational Response: New Educational and ...

    This research topic inquires into multiple and diverse impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on education within various international contexts as billions navigate new educational and social realities. This crisis has led educators at all levels of PreK-20 and their stakeholders to question basic premises about the educational system. Indeed, taken-for-granted educational experiences have been ...

  10. 396 Research Titles About New Normal Education

    Thesis Titles How to Research New Normal Education References Top-12 Research Topics in Education Standardized tests. Effects of cyberbullying. Grading in modern classes. Qualities of a successful teacher. Safe Internet use in education. VARK learning modalities. Impacts of technology in education. Remote learning & communication issues.

  11. New Normal: How School Operation and Learning Changes in a Pandemic

    According to past and present studies, pandemics impacted many aspects of society, including education. The current COVID-19 pandemic, which lasted for more than a year during the study, has brought notable educational changes at every level of education. This research was conducted to explore the extent of educational changes during a pandemic and the deviation between the education plan and ...

  12. Back to school: Research Topics on education during Covid-19

    Covid-19 and Beyond: From (Forced) Remote Teaching and Learning to 'The New Normal' in Higher Education Equitable School Resource Allocation Under a Pandemic and Economic Recession Digital Transformation of Education in the Covid-19 Process and its Psychological Effects on Children

  13. (PDF) Rethinking Education in the New Normal Post-COVID-19 Era: A

    As we approach the new normal in the post-COVID-19 era, there is a need to consider education anew in the light of emerging opportunities and challenges. Thus, this short article attempts to ...

  14. PDF The Impact of Covid-19 on Student Experiences and Expectations

    education, choice of major, etc.). Our results underscore the fact that the COVID-19 shock is likely to exacerbate socioeconomic disparities in higher education. This is consistent with ndings regarding the impacts of COVID-19 on K-12 students. Kuhfeld et al.,2020project that school closures are likely to lead to signi cant learning losses in math

  15. The "new normal" in education

    The new normal. The pandemic ushers in a "new" normal, in which digitization enforces ways of working and learning. It forces education further into technologization, a development already well underway, fueled by commercialism and the reigning market ideology. Daniel (2020, p. 1) notes that "many institutions had plans to make greater ...

  16. The 'new normal': The future of education after Covid-19

    The 'new normal': The future of education after Covid-19 Article The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented disruption to schools and learners in England. There has been significant focus on 'recovering' the existing system but there is also an opportunity to 'build back better'.

  17. PDF Impact of Mental Health and Stress Level of Teachers to Learning ...

    are awaiting the directive to process under the new normal of the education agency. This "new normal" prepares the teachers to be equipped with adaptive leadership and increased technological competence, which are primary and valuable skills to master. This global pandemic brought worries, fears, and

  18. 24 Winning Samples Of Thesis Titles Related To Education

    Because students are asking for examples of great dissertation titles geared towards education and pertinent sections of the industry, I have created a list of twenty-four excellent topics and concepts that could be adapted by any student to become a superb paper.

  19. PDF The New Normal in Education

    Abstract This article aims to examine and discuss the challenges faced by the private basic education institutions in the Philippines as an effect of the Covid-19 pandemic.

  20. The "New Normal" -effects on The Education of Pcu Students

    Abstract This study analyzes the effects of COVID-19 confinement on the autonomous learning performance of students in higher education at Philippine Christian University. We study the...

  21. [PDF] Transition to Post-Pandemic Education in the Philippines

    This literature review is focused on the rallying cry in the transition to post-pandemic education in the Philippines. The country experienced a series of lockdowns that catapulted prolonged closures of school premises for more than eighteen months and was considered the last country to reopen. As steps to conduct and resume limited in-person classes, selected schools have led the priming for ...

  22. Teachers Lived Experiences In The New Normal In Philippine Public

    Based on the findings, eight themes emerged from the lived experiences of teachers which are: (1)technologically literate 21st-century teachers; (2) Collaboration, Commitment, and Competence (3Cs)...

  23. THESIS-FINALE.docx

    This thesis hereto entitled: "THE NEW NORMAL SETTING OF EDUCATION: IT'S CONTRIBUTIONS AND IMPLICATIONS AMONG THE SELECTED COLLEGE STUDENTS OF SAINTS JOHN AND PAUL COLLEGES'': prepared and submitted by JOANNA MARIE L. RIVAS and JAMES CALINDAS, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of BACHELOR OF TECHNICAL VOCATIONAL TEACHING ED...