I wear several hats. I am a practicing respiratory therapist who is an essential employee like always (more so even now), an online educator, and an instructional designer. I doubt many in the world will look at this situation the same as I do just because of my mashup of professional roles and educational degrees.
Telehealth has been a hot topic in health care for a while now. Right now, many clinics and pulmonary rehabilitation centers are closed across the nation because of an enemy we cannot see. Patients who not only used these services to improve their life have lost an important social outlet. There are remote solutions available to support these patients, such as the telerespiratory services of rtNOW. Still, they are not being used because of the lack of health care forethought and reimbursements. Hopefully, there is a silver lining at the end of all this, and needed changes occur to advance health care.
On the educational front, there was a scramble, and many of you working in this field had to build courses quickly. This was an unexpected transition to online education for an indeterminate amount of time. I recently saw Virginia will not be returning to face to face learning until the next school year.
Virginia teacher Stephanie Nash wrote in a Facebook post about the decision to keep schools closed, “As I do understand why this decision was made, it doesn’t make it easier. For many students, school is their safe place. It is the structure they wish they had at home. It’s the smiles, laughs, hugs, high fives, and compliments that they might only see for the day. It's more than just bookwork; it's a family. Now it might be a long time before any of them get that feeling again."
Although schools have gone online, do all students have the tools to be successful at home? I appreciate companies coming to the aid of students offering free internet services and trying to level the playing field, but for some children, school is where they get their well-balanced meals. As much as I love the United States of America, we are still a country with many disparities in health care and education.
I am guessing now every school will have an emergency backup plan for a full transition to online learning in the future. As instructional designers, rarely do we just throw something together. We know there is a lot of forethought required to create an engaging and successful online course. Will this rapid change put a bad taste in students' and teachers' mouths when this is all said and done? My best friend is a teacher who is working on transitioning her classes online. She is learning that there is A LOT of work in getting an online course put together.
This is a time of uncertainty. We know jobs are going to be lost. Already various industries have begun the first waves of layoffs or furloughs. I know instructional designers who had interviews scheduled that now have been canceled due to hiring freezes being put into place.
We are facing a new reality for an indeterminate amount of time. So, what can you do to make lemonade out of lemons?
Support each other but from a distance.
Written By: Tabatha Dragonberry
Tabatha is an EdTech entrepreneur, instructional designer, content writer, and educator dedicated to developing interactive and engaging learning ecosystems. She has a passion for gamification, learning experience design, and the integration of social learning to improve learner engagement and knowledge retention. Also, she is a respiratory therapist who hosts The Vent Room podcast providing a little inspiration to respiratory therapists.