Monday, February 15, 2021

Post-Pandemic Academia

 “When this pandemic is over....”

I have started to think about what will be different in the post-pandemic university. Some things will be good, some bad. Here are my predictions. 

Paperless is here.

Everything had to be done over email so all forms etc had to be signed electronically. God I hope we will never go back to paper forms that are signed with a pen. I will refuse to do that. Just. Nope. 
I could not be happier. So much easier to file and search. No more crappy yet bigger file size scans of a “signed” document. Adobe had this feature before “The Matrix” came out. Sign your documents like a grownup. 

Recording lectures 

Making recordings of your lectures and PDFs of the slides is going to be standard practice. I’m ambivalent about it. It may be good for student participation and success but also is an indirect additional burden on the professor. Not a huge effort per class but it adds up. But universities have invested frantically during the pandemic in streaming and recording equipment and they’ll want a return on this. 

Hybrid outstays it’s welcome.

Similarly, there will be a push to keep doing classes in “hybrid”. That’s a much bigger effort on the professor’s part. I can’t really do it. Can’t teach effectively to people in the class and online. 
But I suspect this will see a push because you can charge more for it or advertise it to potential students. And you can keep doing it in snow days! Oh your kids got a snow day from school. Too bad because you don’t! 

WFH is the new standard. 

Oh I love working from home on writing. Honestly it’s even better in a coffee shop. Or an airport. My office on campus ranks someplace below a busy intersection with McDonalds wi-fi in how conductive it is to writing and other deep work (coding). Erratic temperature control, that weird smell, that time they flooded it, constant interruptions, loud people outside the door, planes landing nearly on top of it, brownouts. Nope home office it is! I already blocked off a day for errands and writing in the before times and in all honesty, I expect I’ll up that to 2-3 days a week. The trick will be to group those things where I have to be on campus for. 

Meeting with research students over zoom

Honestly I’m keeping this. No one has to come to campus and really it’s not that much better in person (see campus office above). I’m thinking individual zoom and maybe group meetings every two weeks or so on campus. 

Poor places replace colloquia with zoom zolloquia 

Yes! Speaker from Australia? No problem! Speaker closer by? Maybe in person. Record these and put on a YouTube channel. Online talks are here to stay. 

No flying for a committee

No TAC or funding committee is *ever* meeting in person ever again. Just nah. So much easier on zoom. When we’re all on zoom. A reasonably well run meeting does not need to be in person. Shame. Too bad. But I also thinks it helps with being more impartial and fair. This makes it easier for anyone to be in "the zoom where it happened" i.e. decisions are made. 

Online conferences are a thing now

And they’ll stay that way. Learn more about stuff while never traveling. Bliss. Seriously. Conference travel can be cut in half. When done well. The social aspect we all miss but they are great for mix and match, asynchronous viewing. Which brings me to...

Conference proceedings are dead

Long live the archived talks and slides. No more overpriced books years later. Good riddance. 

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