Digital learning to assume new importance, says OUP report

A global report by Oxford University Press found that 98% of education experts expect blended learning to become predominant

The vast majority of global education experts think that digital learning will be central to teaching in the coming years, according to a report published today (8 April).

Ninety-eight percent of those responding to a global poll by Oxford University Press (OUP) expected a hybrid model in education – combining digital and traditional methods of teaching and learning – to become predominant.

While the shift towards digital learning has been steadily progressing for some time, it has undoubtedly been accelerated by teaching experiences during the pandemic.

Before COVID hit, fewer than two-thirds of UK teachers (65%) felt confident about using digital learning; a year on, the figure is 92%.

The report, Education: the journey towards a digital revolution, explores how teachers, students and parents adapted to new ways of delivering education as the pandemic took effect, detailing responses in the UK, Brazil, South Africa, Pakistan, India, Spain and Turkey.

In related news: In February, Oxford University Press hosted the world’s largest online professional development programme

While regional trends were many and varied, some of OUP’s findings were generally aligned across all seven territories:

  • The factors deemed to have impacted the most on the effectiveness of digital learning were socio-economic barriers (79%) and uncertainty in day-to-day life caused by the pandemic (74%)
  • 70% of experts said the shift to digital learning has raised concerns about student wellbeing, and 85% believed that learners from disadvantaged backgrounds have fallen behind their peers
  • Curricula needs to evolve so that learners develop the core skills needed to become digitally fluent

In the UK specifically, experts expect the ongoing digital transition to result in rethinking assessment models, particularly at GCSE level.

You might also like: Blended learning – the normality post-pandemic

Following the report, OUP has drawn up a list of recommendations for governments and educators, including:

  • Governments should actively collaborate with – and learn from – teachers and students, using their recent experiences to inform future policy and curriculum development
  • Governments need to work with institutions to address the digital learning divide
  • Wellbeing must be considered as part of education policy as digital learning becomes increasingly embedded in education, including support for teachers and parents
  • Teachers must be brought along the digital journey and supported via professional development
  • Quality content and learning outcomes must be put back at the heart of learning, rather than focusing on learning platforms and methods of delivery

“As we start to reimagine what education may look like in the future, it is imperative that the UK government—and indeed, governments all over the world—learn from those who have been on the frontline, delivering and receiving learning,” said Nigel Portwood, CEO of Oxford University Press.

“We have a huge opportunity to learn from all our experience to develop education systems that will work for both local and global society.”

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