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Editor’s Note, January-February 2021

How are you doing?
A bit tired, thanks. You?

It is just a few weeks before the holidays as I write this – and boy do people sound tired. I am seeing story after story in the news and on social media about stressed-out students, burned-out faculty and a general sense of exhaustion by university staff. In recognition of this, several universities have moved back the start of the winter term by a week to give everyone a bit more time to recharge.

Amidst the gloom, there are rays of hope. At least one drug company has just received approval for their vaccine against COVID-19, with several others likely to follow. It is still too early to predict when widescale vaccination will roll out in Canada, but it appears that it won’t be until at least late winter or the spring – and that’s assuming we don’t run into any snags along the way. So, the winter term will run pretty much like the fall term before it: quiet campuses, limited social interactions and a less-than-ideal educational experience despite the heroic efforts by everyone involved.

But, let’s give credit where it’s due: the fall term did at least happen, and learning did occur. That may sound like faint praise, butu even that didn’t look certain for the fall when the first lockdowns took effect in the spring. As for the 2021-2022 academic year? Well, that’s too far away to think about right now, but I am quietly hopeful that students will be back to some kind of in-person experience by then.

In the meantime, we have lots for you to read in this issue. There’s our cover story on learning management systems, whose importance has never been more evident; a look at how a handful of international students are faring during the pandemic; and a feature on the ways universities are adapting their experiential learning activities at a time when most students are at home in front of their laptops. Stories of ingenuity, resilience and making do.

Léo Charbonneau