How the Coronavirus Pandemic is Changing the Education Industry
Since the novel coronavirus outbreak (or COVID-19), schools and universities around the world have had to adapt to the new world order.
From school closures to online learning, we explore how the global and Australian education sectors are responding to and reshaping as a result of COVID-19.
The rapid spread of COVID-19 has affected all tiers of the education sector in a matter of a few short weeks, from early childhood education all the way up to higher education.
IBIS World summarises the Australian education sector’s response to COVID-19 thus far:
As the situation progresses, we may start to see longer-lasting changes relating to innovations in the delivery of education and partnerships between private and public schools.
Innovation in Education
COVID-19 has acted as a catalyst for education service providers around the world to look for innovative teaching solutions in a short period of time.
In Australia, we’ve seen high schools and universities try to transition to an online learning model, while school students in Hong Kong and China have been leading the way in online teaching solutions, with mandatory virtual classrooms and the like.
At the same time, however, the transition to online learning has been difficult for students and teachers around the world.
In Australia, there have been calls that our NBN speeds are not equipped for mass online learning.
In other countries, however, there is a significant lack of personal digital devices for students to use.
With advanced technology becoming more readily available in countries like Australia, the United States, and several places throughout Asia, we are likely to see learners and education providers implement digital education in a variety of formats.
This will likely remain in place long after the COVID-19 crisis has passed, with traditional classroom-based learning being complemented with live broadcasts, online learning modules and even virtual reality experiences.
At the same time, the shift from online classes back to face-to-face learning will likely also be disruptive, with students having to adjust back to a relative lack of flexibility, handing in hard copies of assignments, and having to attend tutorials in person.
Ideally, our education system will become more digitally ready and able to provide a flexible, dynamic responsive learning environment, available at the click of a button when we need it.
Private and Public Partnerships
The events of the past few weeks have seen various stakeholders collaborate on creating digital platform solutions in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
In places where education has largely been provided by the federal government, the landscape of learning could change drastically.
For example, China’s Ministry of Education has worked alongside various parties to develop a cloud-based online learning and broadcasting platform, as well as upgrade various education infrastructures.
Hong Kong also established a consortium of over 60 different publishers, educational organisations, media and entertainment industry professionals to create hundreds of educational assets which are available to students for free.
The consortium intends to continue using these assets even after the current crisis is over.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, educational innovation now means a lot more than just government or non-profit funded social projects.
There is now also greater interest and investment from tech giants around the world, with the pandemic potentially opening the door for large-scale, cross-industry collaborations aimed towards a common educational goal.
From this public health crisis, our education system is likely to emerge as more resilient, responsive and dynamic.
The pandemic also highlights the digital and creative skills students will need for the world of the future.
For online learning to be carried through successfully in the future, the diversity of student needs must be recognised, a strong teacher presence must be provided, and an interactive and engaging course design must be offered.