- Digital learning pre-crisis analysed
- pandemic exposed the need to further equip schools and teachers
- social, emotional and organisational skills would help students
- Digital learning reinforce rather than reduce inequalities
Just before the crisis, the Center for European Policy Studies (CEPS) conducted an analysis of the readiness for digital learning of education systems across the EU. The picture that emerged was not very encouraging.
“The index showed significant differences across member states in terms of the capacity to take up the opportunities of digital learning, which has proved key to adapt learning activities after the pandemic outbreak,” says Sara Baiocco, a researcher in the Jobs and Skills unit at CEPS and co-author of the study.
During the crisis
The pandemic has exposed the need to further equip schools with the infrastructure and technologies, and provide teachers and students with the skills needed to adapt to a digital environment. However, this process was smoother in countries and regions where the technological possibilities were already available.
According to a survey the network conducted during the crisis, for two-thirds of the respondents, e-teaching was a new experience but the majority think online learning came to stay.
The future of education
The skills that are taught and the organisation of the learning experience are the two main aspects where the pandemic can have lasting consequences.
Andreas Schleicher, the director for education and skills at the OECD, believes the COVID-19 outbreak has proved the need for better social, emotional and organisational skills that would help students and later workers to take responsibility in times of crisis.
In fact, the role of parents during these difficult times has been enormous. Blamire explained that “despite multiple pressures, parents have in large numbers become the teachers of their children, with a better understanding of the curriculum and appreciation of what their school is doing.”
The pandemic has been highly disruptive for everyone, but particularly hard on those students who are not very engaged or do not have enough parental support. The sudden shift to digital learning can have diverging effects on children, or adults in the case of adult learning, from families with different socio-economic and educational backgrounds.
“Ultimately, education and training during and post-COVID could end up reinforcing rather than reducing inequalities,” Baiocco warned.