/COVID19 will open a new global era in human life, society, and education – Zeynep Isık Ercan

COVID19 will open a new global era in human life, society, and education – Zeynep Isık Ercan

Zeynep Isık Ercan
Rowan University, New Jersey – USA

We are certainly in unprecedented times since one tiny organism suddenly transformed our world and lives as we knew it. Despite our wishes to go back to normalcy and how things were before, one thing is for sure. The new era will not look like the past, even after the epidemic is under control. Based on the new ways of thinking and seeing life akin to a post-war experience, here are some of my predictive analysis on how we will do education and social interactions post-COVID19 era and how this may also be the time to envision possibilities.

The era of compassion and humanity: The epidemic and the enormous impact it will have on global health may move people to mobilize to support one another, and it may increase
global awareness for fi ghting with inequalities, human rights violations, corporate greed, and expanding social supports for individuals, families, and communities. Global movements
for social justice may allow communities to be united to transform the functions of government and regulatory bodies to have human dignity and well-being at the center and put
less emphasis on money, power and capital as fundamental motives for systems.

The era of sustainability: Faced with changing life priorities and fi nancial difficulties, we will likely move away from taking pleasure in owning, spending, and indulging and begin to embrace a sense of conservation, valuing the limited resources, saving and Do-It-Yourself habits. With this, we may see a mainstream movement towards second-hand purchases, and trading networks where items get exchanged for another item to save the resources and the environment. Disposable items such as napkins, covers, diapers may be replaced with reusable products. Different fabrics that last longer and more durable might be adopted with help of nanotechnology and organic textiles such as silk, bamboo, cotton and wool might be preferred more as a way to reduce spending on clothing, foster minimalism, and provide comfort and ease.

The era of environmental sensibility: Climate change and other environmental issues may attract global attention, as the natural resources such as water, minerals, forests, animals,
plants, and organic farm lands will become even more precious. Alternative energy sources may become more popular as a way to reduce cost and help preserve resources. We might
see zoning regulations loosen up to allow small animals such as chickens and rabbits in backyards, as well as urban community gardens to support families.

The era of social technology: Technology may be increasingly be used as a way to connect socially and emotionally. Virtual reality, simulations, and other 3D experiences will likely be used by wider public and engage more senses such as smell and touch to connect people. Networking apps like Nextdoor, Slack, Shapr, Facebook may evolve to have more in-personlike virtual platforms and opportunities. Supporting social and emotional connections might be a selling point and a target for any technology.

The era of smaller in-person gatherings: Larger gatherings and social groups will likely decrease in numbers due to some persisting concerns such as health and safety and different approaches to networking might be adopted. Local and smaller long-lasting friendship circles will likely become more popular as a way to support personal, spiritual, and
social growth. The larger gatherings such as conventions might rather be more prominent in virtual environments.

The era of digital and hybrid modes of learning in higher education: As it was common in higher education for non-traditional students, a variety of combinations for learning including a
few day long meetings followed by online classes and peer or small group meetings may increase, instead of all-online versus all in-person forms of higher education. The scrutiny on
all online institutions may continue, as the regulations for quality will become even more important, especially for for-profi t institutions of higher education. Quality standards and
rating for online learning will be an important focus, through which consumers will make their choices for learning. With that, free or highly low cost options for higher education may increase, with businesses and government supporting higher subsidies.

How may the new area transform how children grow and learn?

The desegregation of young children, youth and adults: The contemporary culture of nuclear family mandated children to be placed with the same age group, which was a break from the traditional society where cultural practices are learned in communities and adult activities are shared with children. In the new era of more fluid and dynamic school, home and work practices, the idea of segregating children from adults may be challenged; stronger social and fi nancial supports for new parents, such as paid leave, child incentives, and child care
subsidy may be available to bring up infants, toddlers, with family-based child-rearing practices including the contribution of each individual at home including other children, youth and adults.

The era of kinship and family child care: Child care centers may become more standardized and regulated even at infant and toddler level. With lessons learned on supporting health families, universal government subsidized care may become the popular approach to support each child from birth to age 5, which may allow some child care centers to serve a large number of children to be cared for in urban areas. However, many other child care centers may also need to shift towards a loose federation of smaller care centers in a local area. In that case, the world around young children may mimic the local and smaller social circles the adults are participating with several smaller groups of child care providers in the same area. The regulations and quality for home-based child care as well as center based care will be supported, encouraged, and increased by government funds, and quality rating and improvement systems will become more widespread to oversee the standard quality measures.

The era of fl exible schedules and project based learning at 6-12: Families may push for a longer school day for younger children that includes holistic child development, where play and physical activity are integrated as essential parts of the day, while for older children, fl exible schedules, self-initiated learning such as project- based learning, and use of more
technology might be preferred modes. Middle and high school students may have more opportunities to pursue specialized interests within any fi eld as young apprentices doing actual field work and internships alongside adults, while completing their secondary education.

Whatever the future holds for us, human and family centered systems, and fluid and dynamic regulations might be on the horizon to deal with challenges and utilize new opportunities. Think some of the ways you already think differently in 2020 compared to 2019. It is a new era.