Online learning cannot just be for those who can afford its technology

A university student conducts open-air classes in a slum for underprivileged students

A university student teaches an open-air class for secondary-school students in Delhi. As schools move to teaching online, many students are left out because they lack access to laptops and broadband.Credit: Amarjeet Kumar Singh/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Every day, hundreds of millions of students, teachers and support staff, are participating in a learning revolution: the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the centuries-old tradition that students travelled to a physical institution to learn. Now, in many places, school and university classrooms are on laptops and smartphone screens, and the Internet has replaced physical books.

It’s been an extraordinary β€” and extraordinarily fast β€” transition, affecting everyone from the youngest children entering school right up to young adults in universities. Researchers are starting to study its full impact and its implications β€” for students, for staff and for the organizations that create and supply educational-technology platforms.

Tertiary education has been venturing into online education

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