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The future of education delivery In education, the pandemic will necessarily change both how curriculum is delivered and what types of offerings will be in demand. Leaders of schools from elementary to graduate school must think about what this means for the upcoming year and onward. Online education will become the norm at universities, not only because large lectures and living on campus will continue to be a public health risk next fall, but also because students will demand online curricula more and more as time goes on. This change will affect the types of training teachers will need and the resources in which schools must invest. It will also create a situation where what was once considered an asset now becomes a liability. For example, New York City campus life–or campus life in other urban centers–may not be worth the premium it once was. Also, many humanities departments which have high social value for a school may now be seen as a financial drain, since philanthropic support for those departments will diminish due to economic decline. Student enrollment will also drop because of the low perceived translatability of degrees in those areas of study to jobs after graduation. Education leaders will need to figure out how to mitigate the financial exposure to these potential liabilities, while still maintaining the mission and values of the school. On the curricular content side, rather than cutting those vulnerable departments, an option may be to transform them from being content-based departments to providers of competency-based curricula. A few colleges around the county have already considered this new model, where the subject matter serves as a means to develop critical thinking skills and ways to apply different methods of analysis. With this change, those departments can transform to explicitly support students’ desire for workforce skills in an economic downturn.

Timing will be everything Whatever the answers will be for industry leaders in many fields, the challenge is the same. Leaders must think not only about how to manage the current crisis, but they must also take a step back to consider what the landscape will look like after the crisis has abated. Leaders shouldn’t rush into completely new business models, but they shouldn’t put their heads in the sand either. Six months is but a breath away in business. A new semester will begin before anyone can even think about how the current one fared. Successful leaders will be the ones who start recognizing that the “new normal” isn’t just a catch phrase. It is a wake up call to change how they see the future of their companies. As appeared in Forbes on April 12, 2020.

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