The pandemic requires a fundamental rethink of assessment in higher education. In particular, it is going to remain difficult for many students to access secondary reading material from academic libraries: institutions simply do not have digital copies of their physical resources
Even if a library service is operating, not all students will be able to avail themselves of it and it may be necessary to close these facilities again if there is an outbreak (or government-imposed lockdowns recur). Particularly vulnerable student groups will be worst affected.
In short: the criteria for independent secondary research may be seriously hindered for some or all students at various points. The demand for secondary research will need to be modified to accommodate these inequalities of access to physical resource.
I have heard of libraries being quoted ~£500,000 for e-book packages that would partially address off-site access. But this type of cash is not readily available to universities in order merely to put a sticking plaster on the system of research access.
There are also disciplinary challenges and the humanities will be the worst hit. Because disciplines that rely on monographs as the primary format will be significantly disadvantaged here, as we have hardly made the transition to e-books (let alone OA e-books).
In a sense, our media-form obsession with print -- for all its affordances -- could be the undoing of some disciplines' previously functional assessment paradigms.
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