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Meeting every learner where they start their journey

Meeting every learner where they start their journey

21 October 2021

The pandemic has brought about seismic change in education. As in most elements of their lives, children across the globe have had their learning disrupted to the point where it could have lasting negative effects on their futures, in both wellbeing and economic terms. 

Earlier this year we at Oxford University Press engaged extensively with teachers and other experts in education and wellbeing about what this looked like and one thing they all told us was how quickly the digitization of education had progressed during this time of almost universal school closures. What struck us was that whereas 43% of teachers said they were confident in delivering digital learning before the pandemic, 93% feel confident or very confident in doing so now.

We are so pleased that we met those new needs in a multitude of ways: making much of our digital learning resources free to access, quickly developing new solutions to meet the pressing needs of teachers and learners, globally. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has also increased and accelerated  social disparities in almost every way imaginable and has truly illustrated the scale of the digital divide in education. As many countries experienced a rapid shift to digital learning, the barriers to learning and knowledge increased, with many teachers and students left behind because they lacked sufficient technology infrastructure, digital skills and resources.

As a mission-focused organization, this digital divide and its potential to hinder learning is of great concern. At the Bologna Book Fair I set out how important a focus this is for us. We're currently conducting research into the digital divide, and helping to amplify the voices of teachers who have experienced the barriers first-hand and witnessed the impact this has had on children all over the world.

While we continue to innovate and develop new and exciting possibilities in digital learning, this will never be our sole focus. Even if everyone in the world had equal online and device access, we know this is only part of the learning journey. Physical resources and teacher interaction play a vital role in improving learning outcomes. We work with teachers every day to support young people wherever and however they want to learn, so they can achieve their goals and create new possibilities. Today, we reach more learners than ever, in more ways than ever - 63 million at the last count - and we're just getting started.

Fathima Dada is MD of OUP's Education division.

On Thursday, 4 November 2021 OUP is hosting the Forum for Educators - a global, online event to give educators from around the world the chance to connect and share ideas. The theme for the Forum is 'Learning Beyond Tomorrow', and the event will include three plenary sessions:

  • Re-imagining Education: Tomorrow's EdTech
  • Bridging the Digital Divide: how can we make education fairer and more accessible tomorrow?
  • Building Digital Literacy

Sign up to the Forum for Educators.