The Immediate Impact of COVID-19 on Postsecondary Teaching and Learning

Terence Day, Okanagan College
I. Chun Catherine Chang, Macalester College
Calvin King Lam Chung, Chinese University of Hong Kong
William E. Doolittle, The University of Texas at Austin
Jacqueline Housel, Sinclair Community College
Paul N. McDaniel, Kennesaw State University


Universities and colleges worldwide have quickly moved campus-based classes to virtual spaces due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This article explores the impact of this sudden transition of learning and teaching based on experiences and evidence from six institutions across three countries. Our findings suggest that although online and remote learning was a satisfactory experience for some students, various inequities were involved. Many students lacked appropriate devices for practical work and encountered difficulties in securing suitable housing and workspace. Students were stressed, and faculty were, too, especially those in precarious employment. The lack of fieldwork and access to laboratories created special challenges. We are concerned that the lack of hands-on experience could cause a decline in enrollments and the number of majors in geography over the next few years. This issue must be addressed by making introductory courses as engaging as possible. It is too early to determine the extent to which online and remote learning can replace campus-based, face-to-face geography education once the pandemic ends, but the new academic year of 2020–2021 will be revealing. Nevertheless, the COVID-19 crisis has revealed preexisting problems and inequalities that will need our collective effort to address, regardless of the pandemic’s trajectory.