Schools Ramp Up Online Learning Amid Coronavirus Spread
With the coronavirus (COVID-19) quickly spreading across the globe, we’re seeing a dramatic shift from classroom lessons to e-learning as school closings have accelerated online learning to fill the gap for the next few months — or indefinitely — until the virus is fully contained.
In its 2020 report, Global Industry Analysts projected the international e-learning market to grow by US$312.5 billion. Now, however, with the pandemic having an impact on education around the world, e-learning has become essential to education, and schools that already have some form of e-learning are ahead of the game.
Certain states in the U.S. have e-learning policies, which means they’re prepared to take students online in the event of a snow day or other emergency, according to a report from the Digital Learning Collaborative.
For the states without these policies, one of the main barriers to accessing e-learning has been accessing the internet.
To overcome this, we’re seeing companies like Comcast, Charter, Verizon, Google, T-Mobile, and Sprint step up, pledging to keep Americans internet-connected for the next 60 days, even if they cannot afford to pay for service.
In the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday temporarily waived rules in its Rural Health Care and E-Rate programs to help promote better access to broadband for telehealth and distance learning during the coronavirus pandemic.
With the rules waived, service providers will be able to donate equipment like Wi-Fi hotspots or will be allowed to offer free service upgrades to hospitals, schools and libraries getting these subsidies.
We’re also seeing educational platforms step in and support. Loom, a video recording and sharing service, has made Loom Pro free for teachers and students at K-12 schools, universities, and educational institutions.
China, which is believed to be COVID-19’s country of origin, opened a cloud-based learning platform for its schools with the help of giant telecom companies such as China Telecom, China Unicom and China Mobile. This nationwide platform, which has been used since February 17, already serves 50 million students.
These online learning capabilities will continue to play an important role in education well beyond this global crisis, which is one silver lining of pandemic, as more school systems around the world recognize the power and potential of e-learning.
Emily Smith is a writer who has covered everything from education to law to wellness. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in marketing from Bentley University, and spent a semester studying abroad at Lorenzo d’ Medici University in Florence, Italy. A Francophile, she holds a certification in French for Business from the French Chamber of Commerce.
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