The Covid-19 pandemic took the world by storm in 2020 and in order to contain its rapid spread, Governments around the world had to make hurried decisions. These decisions had far-reaching consequences on education, aviation, tourism, sports, religions, the economy, and every other sector of society. This led to the near-total closure of schools worldwide and simultaneously an exodus to online learning platforms.
According to a UNESCO Monitoring report, as of Mid-April 2020, a total of 1.75 billion students which accounts for 99% of the total population of students worldwide had been affected by the closure of schools and in the US, several public libraries in numerous cities were declared temporarily closed making it a lot more difficult to access learning and learning materials.
As a result of these, schools around the world began to adopt online learning solutions like the use of adaptive learning software or video-telephony software such as Skype, Google Meet, Google Classroom, and Zoom, to mention a few.
This projected not only the resilience and capacity of educational institutions to respond to the global crisis, but also the existing inequality in the digital space that is not often talked about. While some could afford the sudden digital switchover, what remained prevalent in rural areas was a lack of access to internet and technology, insufficient bandwidth, and an understandable unwillingness for those who even have access in such areas to hop on video calls.
According to statistics from the United States Census Bureau, about 93% of households with school-age children in the United States resorted to some form of distance learning during the pandemic. Between May 28th and June 2nd when the majority of the school districts in the country are normally in session, about 80% of learners were said to have been involved in learning through resources made available online while 20% relied on materials sent home from the school.
Whether it is teleconferencing or massive open online courses with prerecorded classes, the pandemic was indeed a catalyst for their rapid growth. However, prior to the pandemic, Online Education was already experiencing a watershed moment with investments in Education Technology soaring to a whopping $18.66billion in 2019 with a projection to reach $350billion by 2025.
Learning online during the pandemic came with its own challenges such as social isolation, connectivity, and lack of motivation, but it will definitely pave the way for advancement in education and lesson delivery. With the experience educators have garnered during this period, chances are that there will be a better blend of physical and virtual learning in a way that helps learners get a better grasp of lessons. This will in turn open doors to the development of new curricula and lead to much more rapid growth in Learning Management Systems.