The Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted the education sector around the world. By some estimates, 1.7 billion students were affected worldwide and 190 countries were forced to close their educational institutions. Hence, millions of young people along with their teachers and parents had to suddenly adapt to new ways of learning (i.e. digital learning); in some cases, this happened overnight. The pandemic has dramatically changed the way we think about education as well as teaching-learning process. The Oxford University Press (OUP) publication "Education: the journey towards a digital revolution" explores the global impact of digital learning, reflecting on what we have learned and what the future could hold for education. The report draws on insights from the experts across 7 countries-the UK, Brazil, South Africa, Pakistan, India, Spain, and Turkey-as well as from hundreds of teachers globally, and extensive secondary research. It analyses how teachers, students, and parents have adapted to new ways of delivering education, and will continue to utilize digital teaching-learning tools and resources to shape educational practice in the future.
Data and evidence presented in this report indicate that while there are clear trends across all regions surveyed, there are also similarities across all markets, with the key finding being that digital learning became a feature of global learning in 2020 like never before. Most of the OUP's experts (98%) said they believe digital learning will be firmly embedded in teaching practices in the future. But not everyone was able to take the advantages of digital technology to continue their education. The factors deemed to have impacted the most on the effectiveness of digital learning were socio-economic barriers (79%) and uncertainty in day-to-day life caused by the corona virus pandemic (74%). Hence, long-term impacts of the pandemic such as the digital divide and the impact on wellbeing need to be addressed. 70% of OUP's experts concluded the shift to digital learning has raised concerns about students' wellbeing, and 85% believed that learners from disadvantaged backgrounds have fallen behind their more advantaged peers. 43% of teachers said they were confident in delivering digital learning before the pandemic, 93% now feel confident or very confident.
The pandemic COVID-19 has set learners, educators, educational institutions, and government policy-makers on the path towards a digital revolution. During the uncertain times of global pandemic, we have observed both the opportunities and challenges digital platforms and resources offer to the education sector. Based on the insights and findings gathered through OUP's research, the report suggests the following key recommendations for governments and educators: 1) Governments should actively collaborate and learn from teachers and students and use their recent experiences to inform future policy and curriculum development. 2) Governments need to work with educational institutions to address the digital learning divide, not just now, but for the future too. 3) Wellbeing must be considered as part of education policy-including support for teachers and parents. 4) Curricula should evolve to provide learners with the skills they need to be both digitally fluent, and adaptable to whatever the future holds. 5) We must not assume a 'one size fits all' approach when it comes to digital learning and must consider individual circumstances. 6) Teachers must be brought along the digital journey and supported via professional development. 7) As institutions start to return to the classroom, they will need to develop strategies to support re-integration and learner motivation. 8) Quality content and learning outcomes must be put back at the heart of learning, rather than focusing on learning platforms and methods of delivery.
The writer is an independent researcher. E-mail: email@example.com
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