COVID-19 has profoundly redrawn the global investment matrix, driving a structural shift toward emerging technologies. It is also wiping out capital investments in major sectors such as tourism and the automotive industry. The substantial increase in educational technologies (EdTech) due to COVID-19 could benefit people living in poverty in developing countries.
COVID-19 and EdTech
Because of COVID-19, schools had to close all over the world. More than 1.2 billion children in 186 countries were unable to attend schools as a result of the pandemic. School closures put considerable pressure on educational systems. For example, considering that in many education systems, professors and teachers are often on the chopping block when there is no revenue. Many countries were unprepared for the transition to online distance learning, both in terms of familiarity and access to EdTech. Therefore, a major concern during the pandemic was the widening of the gap for disadvantaged students due to a disparity in access to EdTech. The pandemic not only exposed traditional education systems’ limitations but also social disparities that supporters believe digital learning can help fix.
Growth in digital education is inevitable. The rapid shift away from the classroom has left many wondering whether the growth of online learning will continue after the pandemic. Even before 2020, there was substantial development in EdTech. Global investment hit about $18.66 billion in 2019. With the introduction of virtual tutoring, language applications, video conferencing and online learning technologies, experts agree that the potential demand for online education can only expand.
It is difficult to envision post-pandemic learning without EdTech. In addition to direct learning applications, EdTech can promote resource sharing, create and grade quizzes and assist with homework. In UNESCO’s flagship Digital Technologies in Education event, Salman Khan, the founder of Khan Academy, shared his experience during the pandemic: he created additional online educational tools and stated that “The digital divide is the number one headline of COVID-19.”
Therefore, it is essential to build for the rebuilding phase. The pace of transition provides an impetus to reimagine the future of education and is inclusive of all students worldwide. Barbara Holzapfel, Vice President of Microsoft Education, contributed to this discussion by saying that “COVID-19 has accelerated the transformation in education that was well underway and we’ve seen years’ worth of change in just a matter of weeks.”
During 2020, COVID-19 and EdTech have forced many to consider that future. Education systems can emerge from the crisis stronger and more resilient to future disruptions. New solutions will build more gender-equal education systems and digitize educational content. Although the way to address educational inequalities is still a challenge, EdTech could provide more flexibility in addressing gaps and inequality in the education system compared to traditional education. Change is possible if policy and research agendas occur properly.
– Aining Liang