The COVID-19 pandemic has seriously altered our modes of living and without seeing a realistic end to this global health crisis that the world is grappling with for more than four months now, it is highly likely that we have yet to see the dire consequences we all need to face. What we know as of 10 May 2020 is that more than 3.9 million cases of coronavirus infections have been reported from 210 countries and territories. This results in a third of the world population under varied forms of lockdown, 91% of school students experiencing school shutdown, and as many as 25 million people are projected to lose their jobs.
The outbreak of COVID-19 is also having a huge impact on higher education. The temporary closure of educational institutions due to the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing university lecturers to move to online teaching modality. Not only that they encounter challenges in adapting the content of what has always been taught during face-to-face classes, they also have to learn new pedagogies that depend heavily on digital technologies, the availability of which varies across the countries.
In addition to the ability to replace the in-class sessions with online modality, lecturers of heritage disciplines, especially those who teach subjects related to intangible cultural heritage, face another challenge in dealing with fieldwork and practicum, which usually requires visits to the communities – activities that are no longer allowed in the pandemic context. One cannot expect to learn all the knowledge and skills required for the heritage professions without the field-based component. How do the higher educational institutions deal with the limitation which might eventually become a new normal?
Considering how the integration between heritage and higher education relies so much on methodologies and practices which are restricted in the time of the pandemic, it is important to assess the state of heritage-related instruction and learning in higher education in the region. It is also important to discuss how the lecturers and students who are future professionals in the field, can support this significant number of communities and tradition bearers from whom they get firsthand instruction for mastery and transmission.
The second session of the Webinar Series aims to look into the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on heritage teaching and learning in higher education and the current challenges universities are facing. We are interested in exploring alternative and innovative teaching models, instructional designs, and learning methods that have been put in place as an educative coping mechanism in crisis. Furthermore, we intend to identify how the disruption of our social and cultural lives entails us to think of calibrated approaches and strategies to render the viability of heritage in higher education and the relevance of these professions in the pandemic context. Finally, we aim to brainstorm about future directions of research, instructional material preparation, and teaching and
learning methods which can be useful in future teaching and learning.