It’s kind of like the future of work just dropped down on top of us all of a sudden.
Lexi Barrett, JFF’s associate vice president for policy, recently participated in an EdSurge Live online forum that examined what colleges can do to help the more than 40 million people in the United States who suddenly find themselves out of work because of the COVID-19 crisis.
Remarking that “it’s kind of like the future of work just dropped down on top of us all of a sudden” as the pandemic forced schools and businesses across the country to move all of their activities online, Barrett noted that many people will be turning to colleges for help as they seek to accelerate their learning. That means colleges will need to serve recent high school graduates grappling with “learning loss” resulting from several weeks of disrupted schooling and “new adults coming into higher education who have been out of college for a long time,” she said.
Noting that there are plenty of new educational options, including courses offering low-cost micro credentials from online providers like Coursera, edX, and Udacity, Barrett argued that now may be the time to reimagine education in the United States, according to a May 28 EdSurge recap of the discussion titled “How Colleges Can Help Educate the 40 Million-Plus Newly Unemployed.”
“It would be a missed opportunity for some of the brick-and-mortar institutions . . . to just treat this time as a stopgap—to just look at it as, ‘We just need to move things online and then we’ll get back to the way things used to be in a couple of months,’ because that wasn’t working for so many of those students,” she said.