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The "New Normal" in Education

Melissa AU

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our world rapidly and enduringly. People have to maintain an appropriate social distance while refraining from almost all everyday activities. Educators around the globe are striving to make education possible in this turbulent time. Blended learning and online learning have now become the axes of modern education. It is time for us to take this critical moment as an opportunity to re-examine our educational goals and rethink possible pedagogies. In light of this, it is necessary and urgent for educators, education researchers and related parties to keep pace with the new normal in education. The scholarly field has researched the effectiveness of implementing sustainable and accessible learning models with help from emerging technologies. Numerous institutions have started exploring how to make learning more visible when physical contact is to be avoided.

Below are some relevant and timely school examples, internet resources and scholarly contributions that raise issues, considerations, challenges as we are rethinking and re-envisioning ways to design, create, and research learning opportunities and teaching processes to meet the needs of all students.

The "New Normal" in Education

Featured Webinar

HKU Faculty of Education. (2021, September 17). Professor Andreas Schleicher: Educating learners for their future – not our past.


Highly-Cited Academic Articles (Based on analysed results from Web of Science)

Darling-Hammond, L. (2017). Teacher education around the world: What can we learn from international practice?. European Journal of Teacher Education, 40(3), 291-309.

Dziuban, C., Graham, C. R., Moskal, P. D., Norberg, A., & Sicilia, N. (2018). Blended learning: The new normal and emerging technologies. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 15(1), 1-16.

Forzani, F. M. (2014). Understanding “core practices” and “practice-based” teacher education: Learning from the past. Journal of Teacher Education, 65(4), 357-368.

Kolb, M., Fröhlich, L., & Schmidpeter, R. (2017). Implementing sustainability as the new normal: Responsible management education – From a private business school's perspective. The International Journal of Management Education, 15(2), 280-292.

Marling, J. L. (2013). Navigating the new normal: Transfer trends, issues, and recommendations. New Directions for Higher Education, 2013(162), 77-87.

McDiarmid, G. W., & Clevenger-Bright, M. (2008). Rethinking teacher capacity. In M. Cochran-Smith, S. Feiman-Nemser, D. J. McIntyre, & K. E. Demers (Eds), Handbook of Research on Teacher Education: Enduring Questions in Changing Contexts (pp. 134-156). Routledge.

Moeller, A. J., & Abbott, M. G. (2018). Creating a new normal: Language education for all. Foreign Language Annals, 51(1), 12-23.

Norberg, A., Dziuban, C. D., & Moskal, P. D. (2011). A time‐based blended learning model. On the Horizon, 19(3), 207-216.

Priestley, M., Edwards, R., Priestley, A., & Miller, K. (2012). Teacher agency in curriculum making: Agents of change and spaces for manoeuvre. Curriculum Inquiry, 42(2), 191-214.

Ross, J., Gallagher, M. S., & Macleod, H. (2013). Making distance visible: Assembling nearness in an online distance learning programme. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 14(4), 51-67.


Extended Readings

Pope, D. (2020, September 3). Student reflections during the pandemic: An opportunity for educators to create a “new normal”. Challenge Success.

Federation for Self-financing Tertiary Education. (2020, October 16). Learners in the new normal: Webinar by Professor Kai-ming Cheng and Professor Jonathan Michie.

Li, C., & Lalani, F. (2020, April 29). The COVID-19 pandemic has changed education forever: This is how. World Economic Forum.

New Zealand Ministry of Education. (2020, August 11). Helping children and young people while they are learning at home: Guidance for parents, caregivers and whānau.

OECD. (2020, November 19). The impact of COVID-19 on student equity and inclusion: Supporting vulnerable students during school closures and school re-openings.

The University of Hong Kong. (2017, July 14). Embracing teaching and learning challenges and trends in higher education.

University of Northern Lowa. (n.d.). Resources for caregivers and educators.

Young Minds. (n.d.). Mental health resources for professionals working with young people.


YouTube Videos

HKU Faculty of Education. (2020, March 11). Adapting learning design from blended to fully online.

Master Insight. (2020, December 16). How different will new normal in education be?: Interviewing Professor Kai-ming Cheng (in Chinese).

OECD. (2019, October 22). Future of education and skills 2030: The new “normal” in education.

Robinson, K. (2010, October 14). RSA animate: Changing education paradigms.

SOCAP Global. (2020, December 2). Our new normal: The effects of COVID-19 on education and social emotional health.

Tedx Talks. (2018, November 28). TEDxParramatta - Greg Miller -Shaping the new normal in education.

UBS Nobel Perspectives. (2020, September 23). A new normal: Episode 4 education.

UNSECO. (2020, September 15). Debating the futures of education: The new normal.


Articles Published in/about the Region

Hew, K. F., Jia, C., Gonda, D. E., & Bai, S. (2020). Transitioning to the “new normal” of learning in unpredictable times: Pedagogical practices and learning performance in fully online flipped classrooms. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 17(1), 1-22.

Mok, K., Xiong, W., & Ye, H. (2021). COVID-19 crisis and challenges for graduate employment in graduate employment in Taiwan, Mainland China and East Asia: A critical review of skills preparing students for uncertain futures. Journal of Education and Work, 2021, 1-15.

Ng, P. T. (2021). Timely change and timeless constants: COVID-19 and educational change in Singapore. Educational Research for Policy and Practice, 20(1), 19-27.

Tran, L. T., & Vu, T. T. P. (2018). Beyond the ‘normal’ to the ‘new possibles’: Australian students’ experiences in Asia and their roles in making connections with the region via the New Colombo Plan. Higher Education Quarterly, 72(3), 194-207.

Zhang, R., Lu, Y., & Du, H. (2021). Vulnerability and resilience in the wake of COVID-19: Family resources and children’s well-being in China. Chinese Sociological Review, 2021, 1-35.


School Examples

Christian & Missionary Alliance Sun Kei Secondary School. (2020, November). Online learning as the new normal (Chinese only). Parents Bulletin, 43, 1-12.

Ng, T. K. (2020). Education after COVID-19: Let’s start thinking. The Hong Kong Academy of Gifted Education.

Quality School Improvement Project. (2021). Publications and case studies on school improvement and new normal in education (Chinese only). Hong Kong Institute of Educational Research, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Wong, Y. H. (2021, February 6). Challenges for the education sector: Embracing new normal of learning and teaching (Chinese only). The Endeavourers Chan Cheng Kit Wan Kindergarten.

Youth I.D.E.A.S. (2021, April). Supporting teachers in facing educational challenges (Chinese only). The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups.



Hong Kong Continuing Professional Development Hub for University English Teachers. (2020, May 23). Episode 15: Making sense of the new normal with Dr. Susan Bridges.

HKU Faculty of Education. (2020, November 3). Study finds teachers with “Progressive Innovator” qualities excel in effective online teaching under the new normal [Press Release].

HKU Faculty of Education. (2021, January 19). Study finds building a culture of trust, collaboration, and openness to innovation through multi-level school leadership is the key to online learning and teaching preparedness during the new normal [Press Release].

Learning and Assessment for Digital Citizenship Project. (2020, July 1). From outcomes and challenges of online learning to enhanced digital preparedness for the new normal. eCitizen Education 360, 1, 1-8.



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