The coronavirus pandemic has pushed adult learners and educators across all levels of education to adapt to online learning. The impact has birthed an opportunity to increase service capacity and permanently change how education is delivered. Virtual knowledge has allowed the world of education to maintain continuity amid a global crisis. The forced shift to online education reflects a moment of change and a time to reimagine how education can be delivered.
The COVID‑19 crisis has resulted in a significant increase in online learning by adults. Much of the training that had started as face-to-face in classroom environments has been pursued online. Furthermore, individuals are being encouraged to use the time freed up by short-time work schemes to take up new training. As such, the crisis provides a powerful test of the potential of learning online. It also highlights its key limitations, including the prerequisite of adequate digital skills, computer equipment and internet access to undertake training online, the difficulty of delivering traditional work-based learning online, and the struggle of teachers used to classroom instruction. This brief discusses the potential of online learning to increase adult learning opportunities and identifies some key issues that the crisis has highlighted. Addressing these issues could contribute to expanding online learning provision in the post-crisis period and to making it more inclusive.
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