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Online 1 246Edtech for good: using tech to navigate the impacts of Covid-19 

From an article on Digital Agenda

Justin Cooke is Chief Content and Partnerships Officer at the social learning platform, FutureLearn which is jointly owned by The Open University and The SEEK Group. He writes about their experience during the pandemic.

At a time when education – and indeed the world as we know it – faces some of the biggest fundamental shifts in its history, there has been unprecedented demand on Edtech companies to help individuals, as well as organisations, navigate this uncertain period and adapt.

At FutureLearn, for example, the number of higher education partners working with them at pace to deliver online course materials for their students has increased dramatically.  Since the start of the pandemic they have seen a five times increase in traffic to the platform, and they gained over a million enrolments in March 2020 alone. 

As a result of the pandemic, schools and universities worldwide have had to close their campuses and buildings to students and staff alike. This has led to institutions now having to accelerate their move towards online teaching and learning. In the UK, this has meant teachers, academics and lecturers working faster than ever before to digitise learning materials and whole chunks of their curriculum in order to ensure continued education. 

FutureLearn also found they needed to create a 'How to Teach Online' course. That had over 45,000 enrolments in under a month. They expedited the launch of FutureLearn Campus so that universities can more rapidly facilitate online teaching and learning for their staff and students. They also launched FutureLearn Schools in partnership with Pearson and Tes Global – it’s a new initiative that gives millions of students aged 13-18 free access to over a hundred relevant short courses on the platform, in order to support their learning and expand their horizons.

The broader edtech sector has stepped up in a number of ways – from apps for kids being homeschooled to remote teaching tools to support educators – in order to deliver socially-impactful innovation, responding at speed with highly practical and accessible resources for the short term that will no doubt also leave an indelible mark on the way the whole industry operates in the long term.

It’s not just the education sector that’s being impacted by these radical changes to the way we learn as a society. The widespread adoption of remote working in order to combat the spread of the virus has been among the biggest of these changes, and has completely altered the way millions of people work and subsequently train.

Edtech resources have proven to be an empowering tool that is helping them to adapt to this uncertain landscape, as well as for the future beyond it. This is why the government recently launched The Skills Toolkit, a selection of free, online courses designed to help boost the nation’s skills during lockdown, which include a number of FutureLearn’s digital skills courses from the Institute of Coding and the University of Leeds as well as Accenture.

Already, up to 40% of FutureLearn’s community of over 11 million learners are using their platform to further their professional goals.

In reality, this pandemic has acted as an accelerator of underlying trends in higher education, trends that were already well underway to becoming the norm but are simply happening at a much faster rate now, albeit under incredibly tough circumstances.

Read full article here.

Have we reached the inflexion point when edtech and online learning becomes ubiquitous and disruptive?

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From an article on Digital Agenda, 17/06/2020

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