In 2008, Tim Laurence was appointed to the role of Dean of Studies of UTS Insearch, a university pathway provider that has been helping more than 90% of its diploma graduates achieve the marks they need to enter a bachelor degree.
Prior to this role, Laurence has had extensive experience in leading high-quality educational programs in Australia and Internationally. This has put him in a unique position to see where teaching and learning might be heading in the future – a critical benefit especially given the unpredictable education landscape that COVID-19 has created.
Laurence said the most profound impact that the pandemic has had on young people in 2020 has been the end of University campus life and the move to online or remote learning.
“Many young people have had to experience suffer isolation and alienation while restricted to their homes,” Laurence told The Educator.
“On the other hand, we have seen a marked increase in our students becoming independent learners, confident and capable of managing time and achieving outcomes despite the disruptions and challenges”.
Laurence said Insearch has also observed a greater comfort in students reaching out for help when they need it.
The biggest silver lining Laurence sees in terms of teaching and learning opportunities in 2021 centre around the saying “necessity is the mother of invention” – a saying that has resonated for many teachers and leaders this year.
“The most significant benefit from the crisis has been discovering new effective and efficient ways of doing things,” he said.
“It has given us an opportunity to try out ideas that had been too difficult to trial in the past”.
Laurence said remote learning has shown educators how to engage their students in their own learning environment.
“It has also shown how to build maturity and independence through the way we mix online interactions with teachers’ and students’ research and study offline”.
With most educators are now shifting their gears from crisis management to forward-planning, Laurence said he sees some significant opportunities for educators to help young people pursue their future careers.
“The biggest opportunity for educators is developing our students’ resilience to disruptions, ability to collaborate, their communication skills and creative thinking. Building on these skills prepares students for the future of work,” he said.
“Another opportunity comes from ensuring that all our students’ assessments are authentic, based on the real world and directed to their future careers”.
Laurence said that along with reinventing the way educators and students do things, the education system has the opportunity to “continue leveraging deep expertise in transitional education as pathway providers to UTS”.
“We’ve helped transforms lives of 1500 students each year from Australia and 75 countries around the world,” he said.
“We want to maximise the new ways of learning to actualise potential and enhance students’ lives through the power of learning, caring support and high-quality education”.