Response from Vikram Savkar, vice president and general manager of the medicine segment, Health Learning, Research & Practice at Wolters Kluwer.
Our education systems have been forced to be incredibly nimble and quickly adapt in the face of the COVID pandemic. The initial focus of key stakeholders across the education ecosystem has been rapid response: making existing digital tools widely available to educational institutions who could only connect with their students remotely, and quickly developing short-term new solutions to plug critical gaps.
It’s now clear that virtual or hybrid learning is likely to continue in 2021 and be a permanent part of our education curricula, even once the pandemic has passed. As a community, we need to be asking how we transition from a rapid-response approach to digital learning towards scalable, sustainable digital learning platforms that empower hybrid learning models in order to improve upon, rather than temporarily replace, traditional education environments.
In medical education, for instance, during the pandemic we saw a rapid uptake of digital anatomy tools and digital textbook and assessment platforms that had existed for some time but were suddenly in broad demand. Faculty and students alike discovered during this disruption that these tools were not just adequate, but in fact highly effective. As a result, most medical schools have indicated that they will permanently rely on digital tools as a core part of their educational approach into the future.
For providers, therefore, the task is to address this rapidly growing demand by rethinking our approach to digital learning tools. Today’s technologies met a critical short-term need during the pandemic; but it is tomorrow’s technologies that must address a permanent shift in educational approach. Does this involve AI-based adaptivity? Social learning? Data visualization? Time will tell. But what is clear is that, given the inflection point that the pandemic is proving to be, it’s a time to leap forward, not consolidate.