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Learning opportunities inspired by the pandemic: how will they work?

January 29, 2021


This year, the pandemic has taught everyone several lessons. And universities are already using case studies inspired by COVID-19 as training material.

With countless coaching opportunities in operations, management, investment, and entrepreneurship, students have the chance to develop their knowledge and expertise with fresh perspectives from the most recent unfortunate events all around the world.

Before the current crisis forced schools to close down, universities had been growing their online learning processes. And today, higher education is completely virtual. Educators and professors continue to create new digital resources, share best practices, and improve remote teaching (through new methods). They also help students adapt to this constantly changing environment.

But adapting also means learning from real-life scenarios. In light of recent events, 2021 brings opportunities to better understand the latest changes in the world. Moreover, the pandemic gives educators numerous real situations, inviting students to critically analyze the impact on their community, businesses, health, and anything else. Published cases on the pandemic, such as Addressing the COVID-19 Crisis: The CEO Agenda, among others, are becoming more popular.

Even though the pandemic has affected people’s lives, students can deepen their knowledge by analyzing recent events. Education professionals are ready to use the crisis as an opportunity in various subjects, such as language, science, social studies, and mathematics. In some countries, COVID-19 could even enter the school curriculum.

How would such a learning opportunity look? 

Universities are using scenarios inspired by authentic cases from the past year. For example, Harvard University has already tapped into these learning scenarios. Through their courses, they are examining management decisions that have been made so far during the lockdown.

From manufacturing to government funding, the range of topics based on real-case situations is compelling, and students are encouraged to debate the best solutions for businesses during uncertain times.

However, many students have been deeply affected by the crisis and experienced financial or emotional distress going through long periods of confinement. Universities are faced with whether to bring pandemic-related topics into their courses and how to approach them.

Harvard Business Publishing comes with useful answers. First, educators should invest time into planning the use of real cases, in every little detail, without risking improvising. There should also be an accurate and comprehensive explanation of why the pandemic is relevant for their learning classes. Building rapport shouldn’t be skipped. This will allow students to get involved in the conversation and share their experiences from the past year.

Education professionals should personalize every experience and connect genuinely with students. Empathy is crucial when tapping into these difficult topics.

In building resilience after traumatic and troubling events, caring for the mental health of students is essential. Feelings of anxiety and grief should not be denied, but rather legitimized and heard, seen, and understood. It’s vital to acknowledge various emotions and moods and to create and develop strategies that can manage and work with such feelings.

Educators could use literature and philosophy to guide their students through learning, but also emphasize the importance of emotional intelligence and skills, needed today more than ever, especially in business schools. This way, students will learn how to manage stress and under pressure situations by better understanding what happened during the pandemic.


Even though there’s no “one size fits all” magic formula, students and universities can work together in creating more training opportunities that would answer the need for a deeper understanding of such a massive health crisis that was—and still is—COVID-19. Luckily, with the right approach, interdisciplinary courses will improve people’s knowledge while supporting them through their challenges.