The COVID-19 pandemic has forever altered education

Technology

As a part of The COVID-19, schools all over the world have been closed. About 1.2 billion children are out of school worldwide.
As a result, education has undergone significant transformations, with the advent of e-learning, in which teaching is done remotely and through interactive platforms.

According to research, online learning increases knowledge retrieval and takes less time, implying that the modifications created by the coronavirus are here to remain.

Although countries’ COVID-19 infection rates vary, more than 1.2 billion children in 186 countries are directly affected by school closures as a result of the pandemic. Children up to the age of 11 in Denmark are returning to nurseries and schools after being closed on March 12th, but students in South Korea are responding to roll calls from their teachers via the internet.

With the abrupt turn away from the classroom in many parts of the world, some are curious whether online learning adoption would continue post-pandemic, and how such a shift will affect the global education industry.

Also before COVID-19, education technology was seeing rapid growth and penetration, with global edtech investments exceeding US$18.66 billion in 2019 and the potential demand for online education expected to hit $350 billion by 2025. Since COVID-19, there has been a substantial increase in use of language applications, interactive tutoring, video conferencing tools, and online learning technologies. What is the educational community’s reaction to COVID-19?

Many online learning sites, including BYJU’S, a Bangalore-based educational technology and online tutoring firm established in 2011, are now the world’s most highly regarded edtech venture, are providing free access to their services in response to high demand. BYJU has seen a 200 percent rise in the number of new students using its Think and Learn platform since announcing free live courses, according to Mrinal Mohit, the company’s Chief Operating Officer.

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Meanwhile, Tencent Classroom has been in heavy use since mid-February, when the Chinese government ordered a quarter-billion full-time students to resume their studies via online platforms. With nearly 730,000, or 81 percent of K-12 students, attending classes through the Tencent K-12 Online School in Wuhan, this culminated in the largest “online revolution” in the history of education.

Other businesses are expanding their capabilities in order to include a one-stop shop for teachers and pupils. For example, Lark, a Singapore-based collaboration suite that began as an internal tool for ByteDance to fulfil its own exponential development, began offering teachers and students unrestricted video conferencing time, auto-translation capability, real-time co-editing of project work, and smart calendar scheduling, among other features. Lark increased its global server infrastructure and technical skills to ensure stable availability in a hurry and during a crisis.

DingTalk, Alibaba’s distance learning platform, had to brace for a similar influx: According to DingTalk CEO Chen Hang, “To facilitate large-scale remote operation, the platform tapped Alibaba Cloud to launch more than 100,000 new cloud servers in just two hours last month – setting a new milestone for accelerated bandwidth expansion.”

Some school districts are developing unique alliances, such as the one formed between the Los Angeles Unified School District and PBS SoCal/KCET to include local instructional broadcasts with separate platforms geared toward different ages and a variety of multimedia alternatives. Digital learning is now supported by media organisations such as the BBC; Bitesize Daily, which launched on April 20, offers 14 weeks of curriculum-based learning for children around the UK, with celebrities such as Manchester City footballer Sergio Aguero teaching some of the content.

a significant effect on education

What does this mean about education in the future?

Although some argue that the haphazard and hasty transition to online learning – with little instruction, inadequate space, and no planning – would result in a weak user interface that will hinder long-term progress, others believe that a modern hybrid model of education will arise, with substantial benefits. “I expect that the introduction of information technology in education will intensify much more, and that online education will gradually become an important part of school education,” says Wang Tao, Vice President of Tencent Cloud and Vice President of Tencent Education.

Many universities have already completed active transfers. For example, using “DingTalk ZJU,” Zhejiang University was able to get more than 5,000 courses online in just two weeks. Imperial College London began offering a course on the study of coronavirus, which has been Coursera’s most enrolled class since its debut in 2020.

Many people are also praising the benefits: Dr. Amjad, a University of Jordan professor who has been using Lark to educate his students, says, “It has changed the way I teach.” It allows me to communicate with my students more easily and effectively, particularly during this pandemic, through chat groups, video meetings, voting, and document sharing. On Lark, my students also find it easier to talk. Even after the coronavirus, I’m sticking with Lark because I think conventional offline learning and e-learning can coexist.”

The difficulties in online education

However, there are obstacles to tackle. Any students who do not have affordable internet connections or technologies find it difficult to engage in digital learning; this divide exists across countries and across income brackets within countries. According to OECD results, although 95 percent of students in Switzerland, Norway, and Austria have access to a computer for schoolwork, only 34% of students in Indonesia do.

In the United States, there is a major divide between people from affluent and deprived backgrounds: while almost all privileged 15-year-olds said they had access to a computer, nearly 25% of those from disadvantaged backgrounds did not. Although some schools and states, such as those in New South Wales, Australia, have provided digital equipment to students in need, many people are also worried that the pandemic would deepen the digital divide.

Is online learning as good as classroom learning?

There is proof that learning online can be more successful in a variety of areas for those who have access to the right technologies. According to some studies, students who study online retain 25-60% more content than those who learn in a classroom retain just 8-10%. This is mostly attributed to students’ ability to learn more quickly online; e-learning takes 40-60% less time to learn than conventional classroom learning because students will learn at their own speed, going back and re-reading, skipping, or speeding through concepts as required.

The success of online learning, however, varies by age group. Children, particularly younger ones, need a structured atmosphere, according to the general consensus, since they are more easily distracted. According to Dowson Tong, Senior Executive Vice President of Tencent and President of Tencent Education, a concerted effort is needed to provide this structure and go beyond replicating a physical class/lecture by video capabilities, instead using a range of collaboration tools and engagement methods that promote “inclusion, personalization, and intelligence.”

According to BYJU’s Mrinal Mohit, since studies have shown that children use their senses extensively to learn, making learning enjoyable and successful through the use of technology is critical. “We have noticed over time that clever incorporation of games has demonstrated higher interest and increased enthusiasm for learning, especially among younger students, causing them to genuinely fall in love with learning,” he says

A shift in education is needed.

This pandemic has clearly wreaked havoc on an academic system that many believe was still losing importance. Yuval Noah Harari, in his book 21 Lessons for the Twenty-First Century, explains how schools continue to emphasise standard academic skills and rote learning over skills like strategic thinking and adaptability, which would be more relevant for future success. Will the shift to online learning be the spark for a modern, more effective approach to student education? Although some are concerned that the hurried nature of the online transformation has hampered this aim, others expect to make e-learning part of their “new routine” following firsthand experience with its benefits.

COVID-19 emphasises the significance of information dissemination.

Major world events are often a tipping point for accelerated innovation, as shown by the explosion of e-commerce after SARS. Although we don’t know how this would extend to e-learning since COVID-19, it is one of the few areas where investment hasn’t dried up. The importance of disseminating information across borders, businesses, and all aspects of culture has been highlighted by this pandemic. If online learning technology has a role to play here, it is incumbent on all of us to fully exploit it.

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