A Review of the Coronavirus Impact on Higher Education Institutions and Opportunity of Information Technology Applications in Collaborative Work

A Review of the Coronavirus Impact on Higher Education Institutions and Opportunity of Information Technology Applications in Collaborative Work

Kamalendu Pal (University of London, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-9235-9.ch007
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This chapter describes the challenge to the higher education sector during the coronavirus pandemic. It also presents the lack of preparedness in crisis management and digital education responses of higher education teaching and learning practice. Given that higher education institutions and the student community faced distinct challenges, policy responses and their implications have valuable lessons to learn. The chapter highlights research gaps, including researching the impact on lesser-developed countries, the psychological impact of transition, and the essential role of management in handling the pandemic. It also highlights that the general objective should be to build more resilient higher education teaching and learning delivery systems that are responsive and adaptive to future crises. London's City University decided to move off-campus and into a digital work environment responding to the current pandemic. A case study in the application of an undergraduate software engineering team-based project teaching and learning practice follows.
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Humanity dwells on mother earth with ambitious goals to mitigate unprecedented social, economic, and environmental challenges. Education, science, technology, and innovation are playing an enormous role in attaining these unprecedented challenges. Education can help change economies and improve living conditions by increasing productivity, reducing social inequality, and helping to raise real wages. Education is a complex system that needs many perspectives and levels of analysis to understand its context, dynamics, and actors' interactions, particularly concerning technological innovations and how these facilitate managing courses and enhancing student learning. Technology-driven teaching and learning management system presents a potential avenue for enriching the content of a course and delivering the course to a broader student community. One of the essential ingredients to create a better education providing world is the technology and unprecedented change in its scope, pace, and depth of knock-on effect. Achieving that progress is the surest path for human society to deliver ambitious goals for people, peace, and prosperity. This way, a resilient education system can adapt and transform itself in the face of adversity.

Human society's adversity can take place in different forms and shapes. The global health pandemic (i.e., coronavirus) has shined a harsh light on the vulnerabilities and challenges humanity faces in recent years. It has provided a review of existing inequalities and a picture of what steps forward making needs to take, mainly among them addressing the education of more than a few billion students whose learning has been hampered due to academic institutions closures totally or delivered online teaching to serve partially the student communities need.

The outbreak of coronavirus (commonly known as COVID-19) in the later part of 2019 caused governments to take invasive measures to prevent the spread of the disease, including closures of educational institutions. The rapid spread of the virus precluded careful, in-depth policy planning. In order to contain the virus, policies were implemented before their positive and negative effects were assessed. Only recently, policymakers have started inquiring into the consequences of various forms of academic institutions (e.g., school, college, university) closures to be better prepared to tackle a similar crisis in the future. While this "unprecedented multidimensional crisis …. demands coherent policy responses," admittedly, not all countries have developed such comprehensive plans in place (Gouedard, et al, 2020).

The coronavirus pandemic has adversely affected higher education daily activities worldwide, with face-to-face teaching and learning practices and student assessment styles being changed or cancelled due to the lockdown imposed by governments. Most of the educational institutions have also had to struggle with challenges or digital teaching delivery services (Talidong & Toquero, 2020). Higher education institutions were asked to formulate crisis management strategies to continue teaching and learning activities. The United Kingdom government requested fellow citizens to minimize social contact as much as possible and went on to advise that "you can still work, but we are asking as many as possible to work from home" (BBC, 2020). Subsequently, face-to-face teaching was stopped for higher education institutions worldwide, with academics and teachers asked to formulate alternative student-support activities as replacements for attendance at lectures, tutorials, laboratory sessions, workshops, and seminars. The teaching and learning activities were altered due to an overhaul of planned assessment processes. As the coronavirus pandemic threat has developed further, the rapidly changing nature of communication provided to students and educators (e.g., academic, teacher) may have added additional sources of anxiety and pressure. Mental, psychological, and emotional pressures were becoming part and parcel of student and educator life. An early study highlights that the students are now at risk of being left behind the health and wellbeing during a formative stage of learning, the opportunity of appropriate education, their personal development, and economic benefits (United Nation, 2020).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Software Engineering: Software engineering is the systematic application of the engineering approach to software system development.

Crisis Management: Crisis management is the process by which an organization deals with a disruptive and unexpected event that threatens to harm the organization or its stakeholders.

Software Project Management: A software project is the complete software development procedure from user requirement collecting to development, testing and maintenance, carried out according to the execution methodologies, in a specified period to achieve the intended software product.

Competing Values Framework: The competing value framework (CVF) has been recognized as one of the most important models to deal with factors that make organizations effective. The model has been applied to a variety of topics related to individual and organizational behaviour. Researchers are using this empirical technique to help thousands of organizations and tens of thousands of managers improve their performance.

Coronavirus: Coronavirus is a group of related RNA viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds. In humans and birds, they cause respiratory tract infections that can range from mild to lethal.

Software Process Development: Software design is a process to translate user requirements (or needs) into some appropriate form, which helps the programmer in software coding and implementation.

Organizational Culture: Organizational culture can be considered as the norms that characterize a workgroup or organization. It is also suggested that the cultures of productive and economically successful organizations are often characterized by the norms of (1) collaboration, (2) innovation, and (3) integrity/ethical behaviour. These norms characterize successful organizational cultures, in part, by fostering greater trust and commitment among team members or employees.

Knowledge Management: Knowledge management is emerging as a critical management responsibility, and consequently, organizations are investing a vast number of resources to support the acquisition, storage, sharing, and retrieval of knowledge in software development projects.

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