Crises require creativity

Thinking short term and long term in parallel is a challenge in every crisis. Not only to find immediate solutions to urgent problems but also when crisis and distance education has become the new normal.

In terms of hand to mouth organisationally, we seem to have cracked it, even though many smaller and larger issues remain. Our distance education is now up and running generally speaking and we are meeting our priority of enabling students to receive their education, with certain reservations.

Here, I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone, not least the personnel, on the e-learning side and all our fantastic teachers who have worked hard to find solutions.

However, new issues are arising in the wake of these changed ways of working. Many people have had to put on hold their normal work duties and rethink their working hours. Large organisations and public authorities with long planning horizons and long lead times have had to become more nimble-footed. Not least when it comes to education.

At the same time, there have been several research related initiatives that can contribute with knowledge and/or tests directed towards coronavirus and Covid-19. Other initiatives concern materials and equipment for hospitals. This shows an ability to focus together with creativity that is wonderful to witness.

In the midst of this storm there will also be a need to see what educational contribution KTH can make in the longer term. A questionnaire about this came from the Department of Education.  The issue was what expanded roles could we and other universities in Sweden be able to accept to provide further support in the critical economic situation Sweden risks finding itself in as a consequence of Covid-19. In effect, this concerns things such as being quickly able to offer courses and programmes remotely to more people and on a larger scale, during the summer and autumn.

Naturally, we are going to do our very best – even if greater clarity concerning possible additional financing would be welcome. KTH is taking an inventory of its existing programmes and courses that could be offered as distance education, in the first instance this autumn, and whether courses that are being restructured to a digital format could be suitable to be made available for other groups.