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2020/2021: the first year of the rest of our lives | Opinion

For more than a century, each year at this time, the Instituto Superior Técnico has been renewing itself and being reborn with the arrival of its new students. This year will be no different: Técnico will welcome around 2000 new students, coming from all regions of the country and from several countries in Europe and other continents. As always, they will arrive hungry to learn how Google’s algorithm works, how to design and develop an airplane, how to sequence a DNA chain, or how to start a tech-based business.

Técnico, carefully prepares to welcome its new students and give them the training and experience of university students that they expect to receive here: a solidly based education, a stimulating and stimulating course during the first and master’s degrees , the possibility of a successful Erasmus semester in the best universities in Europe, a diversified and enriching experience, resulting from contact with other colleagues of various specialties, with cutting-edge scientific research centers, with the possibility of participating in several groups of students who build cars, motorcycles, boats or satellites. But this year some things will be a little different.

The first is that living on campuses in Técnico and in other higher education institutions will have to be adapted to the pandemic situation in which we live. We will have to wear a mask and increase the physical distance. This will mean that teaching and learning methodologies will have to be adapted to these circumstances, by strengthening the availability of support materials for classes, by using, more predominantly than before, platforms for transmission and communication between teachers and students.

It will therefore be year zero of “mixed education”, that is to say that all subjects will have this year, for the first time, a face-to-face component and a distance component. In a few months, it will be necessary to learn the best of what we are learning from “blended education”, to readjust the processes, if necessary, or to learn from them for the future. For now, it is too early to draw any conclusions.

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The second big difference is the attention we have to pay to cases like Maria’s. Maria is on average 19 years old and lives in the south, near the coast. He dreams of coming to Técnico to become a mechanical engineer. The father, who worked in a hotel, is unemployed and the mother has a small store where, since June, when it reopened, sales have halved. Maria, although a bright student and working for many years, is not sure if she will realize her dream. Cases like Maria’s this year and the next will occur much more frequently than in previous years. You have to be careful. At Técnico, we will listen to Maria. We will have to be able to respond to situations like Maria’s. It is absolutely necessary that the circumstances in which we live do not make us waste our most precious possession: talent.

The author writes according to the new spelling agreement

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