COVID Intelligence

It was the year 2050, halfway through the new century. Educational leaders convened to reflect on the past 50 years and think about the next 50. Rather than follow the normal scripted presentations, a series of table talks were held every hour. The idea was to allow any topic to come forward naturally. Every hour the participants at each table changed in order to provide for a diversity of perspectives.

The result of the discussions was totally unexpected. One topic became viral: Why have the “COVID classes” been extraordinarily successful? This was an unexpected theme and went against everything the leaders had imagined.

The COVID classes were different, but in ways that would have been thought to be negative, not positive.

  • Test scores were abandoned as admissions criteria.
  • Classes were taught remotely putting a lot of the burden for learning on students.
  • Students had to deal with a lot of self-awareness issues in the solitude they had.
  • Skill sets changed. Self-discipline replaced academic brilliance as one of those skill set changes.
  • Course assessments changed from valuing memory to open-response assessments which valued deeper understanding.

As the success of the COVID classes continued, the participants started to realize that the changes necessitated by COVID were actually positive in terms of student development. As one participant said, “We fundamentally changed what it means to be intelligent. Our century’s old model of intelligence changed from knowing what others know to knowing how to develop what you know.”

The concept of a changing intelligence became the focus of subsequent table talks. Some of the most revealing comments were captured:

  • “We need to view intelligence as something that is ever developing, not as a static measure.”
  • “This new way of thinking about intelligence really opens up our campus to a more diverse student body.”
  • “We need to rethink our role as faculty. I don’t want to be the sage on stage. I want to push the first domino that leads to a cascade of ever-developing intelligence.”
  • “We need to imagine a vision of what our students might become, not just assessing where they are now.”

As the meetings ended, each of the participants agreed to capture the stories of their COVID classes. These stories would in turn offer additional insight into a changing model for higher education. And in the process, they were asked to capture their own insights of how they saw their own future as educators emerging.                                                                                                                *   *   *

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” – Albert Einstein


How To Use

Useful guides for incorporating messages into discussion.