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How Coronavirus is re-shaping education for better or worse



Many commentators have lamented the slow pace of change in education. In a matter of weeks the coronavirus pandemic has changed how millions around the globe are educated.

COVID-19 is forcing educational institutions worldwide to search for innovative solutions to how students are educated around the world, embracing the ‘learning anywhere, anytime’ concept of digital education in a range of formats Those changes give us a glimpse into how education could change for the better – and the worse – in the long term.

1. Distance education may accelerate change and lead to greater innovations, for example:
  • Hong Kong students started  learning from home, in February, via interactive apps.
  • 120 million Chinese students began learning through live television broadcasts.
  • In one Nigerian school, online learning tools (such as reading material via Google Classroom), were linked up to face-to-face video instruction
  • in Lebanon students have been encouraged to make their own videos of athletic training and sports leading to them learning new digital skills.

2. Public-private educational partnerships could grow in importance
Governments, publishers, education professionals, technology providers, and telecom network providers are coming together to utilize digital platforms as an interim solution for teaching and learning, for example Microsoft and Google in the United States, Samsung in Korea, and Tencent, Ping An and Alibaba in China. The pandemic could pave the way for much larger-scale, cross-industry coalitions to be formed around a common educational goal.

3. The digital divide could widen
The quality of learning is heavily dependent on the level and quality of digital access. Only around 60% of the globe’s population is online and even among those, less well-off students may lose out because of the cost of digital devices and data plans. Unless access costs decrease and quality of access increase in all countries, the gap in education quality, and thus socioeconomic equality will be further exacerbated.