May 11 saw the second discussion in ISET's ongoing series of international policy online panels which examine the possible socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The second panel was dedicated to what the higher education sector will look like when the pandemic is declared to be over.
Hosted and moderated once again by Dr. Tamar Sulukhia, ISET's Director, the distinguished panel was composed of Dr. Mikheil Chkheneli, the Georgian Minister of Education; Dr. Sebastian Molineus, the Regional Director of the South Caucasus for the World Bank; Karl Dittrich, President of European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education; Dr. Sijbolt Noorda, President of the Magna Charta Observatory; and Dr. George Shavrashidze, Rector of Tbilisi State University.
The panelists agreed that while there will be a return to a traditional learning format in classrooms, lecture theatres, and auditoriums, online learning will play a greater role in higher education than in prior years, a change that will – as Doctor Noorda said – possibly be a challenge for both students and faculty. Minister Chkheneli, meanwhile, said that he believes that online learning formats will complement on-site teaching practices in the future.
As with many other sectors, it is clear that higher education will not be the same again after the pandemic, and the virus is causing changes and crises that could not have been predicted. Dr. Dittrich drew attention to observed increases in xenophobia and fake news, while Dr. Shavrashidze related TSU's experiences in helping bring stranded Georgian students home. However, not all was bad news – Minister Chkheneli emphasized that Georgia's government and health authorities were given particular praise by international organizations and businesses, including the WHO and Microsoft.
The discussion was broadcast on both Zoom and Facebook Live and was viewed by almost 10,000 people. The next panel, which will focus on SOMETHING, will be broadcast on DATE.