Sarah Burke, Staff Writer
The future for Augsburg’s spring semester remains unknown for students and staff alike. As the number of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. tops 200,000, universities everywhere are taking different approaches to their modality of teaching. Faculty gathered virtually on Wednesday, Sept. 16, to discuss incoming first years, the general education reform that faculty will vote on in November, to begin unveiling Augsburg’s spring plans and to discuss what this could mean for the future of technology-based teaching at Augsburg. Augsburg is currently moving forward with a hybrid learning model through the remainder of the academic year, but could potentially alter its teaching modality if the risk around COVID-19 fluctuates in either direction.
Each teaching faculty member will choose for themselves how they will teach next semester. As of right now, there is still the possibility of in-person classes. However, due to the risk of COVID-19, the spring semester will most likely remain in hybrid and online formats.
Faculty Senate President, Milda Hedblom, has been encouraging the merging of technology into education for over a decade. She and many other faculty members promoted the creation of the Technology and Learning Committee three years ago and were met with some reluctance about straying from the traditional teaching method. “It’s a slow climb up a very steep hill,” Hedblom said.
This forced conversion from in-person to online has led to many questions about how effective teaching could be in the digital age. The U.S. Department of Education reports that 48 states have online schooling available for its residents. They report online learning can increase productivity, efficiency, and reduce costs of in-person education. Whether or not this is true for Augsburg students and faculty is still unknown.
Hedblom said she does not believe the faculty are unable to achieve these new technological hurdles. “Dogs of all ages can learn new tricks,” Hedblom said. Though teaching online amid a pandemic was not what anyone was expecting, Hedblom is certain everyone is willing to keep learning. “Everybody is bent to the challenge to make this experience as good as can be.”