By Dr. Edward C. Ortell

Citrus College Governing Board Member


Society’s slow but steady emergence from the darkest days of COVID-19 feels a bit like the first vestiges of spring after a long, cold winter.

Many of us wonder if life will ever fully return to the way it was pre-pandemic.  My guess is probably not, and in some ways that may be a good thing.

Education, one of our most important societal institutions, was forced to reinvent and redesign its delivery systems across all levels during COVID-19. The pandemic taught educators more about what works and what doesn’t than we would likely have learned any other way. That knowledge will lead to meaningful change that will facilitate student learning and success.

Much of the change being implemented as colleges and universities transition back to in-person learning is the development of hybrid in-person/online courses, many of which fit well into variety of programs and have been shown to improve attendance, persistence and student success.

In addition to delivery systems, change is underway in other areas of higher education. For example, California universities are currently redesigning traditional courses to modernize and streamline pathways to careers. One example is new thinking regarding mathematics and the definition of quantitative literacy. Universities, such as the University of California and UCLA, are designing introductory math courses that prepare students for 21st Century careers with courses like Foundations of Data Science and math classes designed specifically for science majors. Much of this change was already underway pre-pandemic, but its value to students was highlighted during COVID-19, as students considered their future career options.

COVID-19 caused us to reevaluate almost every aspect of our lives, determining what things were absolute necessities and what was merely habit or tradition. If we have learned nothing that will benefit us going forward, we have missed a good opportunity to change our lives for the better.

Dr. Edward C. Ortell is the senior governing board member at Citrus College and a Professor Emeritus at Pasadena City College. He has served as the Executive Director of the Pasadena Education Association and authored two college mathematics textbooks.