Coronavirus is Taking People Back to School – and EdTech Can Make it Happen |

Coronavirus is Taking People Back to School – and EdTech Can Make it Happen

By Linda Mohamed

Updated January 17, 2022 Updated January 17, 2022

The coronavirus pandemic has hit a number of industries and sectors with a mighty hit.

From hospitality and tourism to tech and finance, companies across the globe have had to quickly adapt to lockdown measures by making a large proportion of the workforce go remote. While this sudden shift has hindered some business practices, many employees have willingly (and effectively) adjusted to the ‘new normal’, some even preferring it to an office-based 9 to 5 structure.

This has also been the case for education. Despite the fact that on-campus courses still represent a significant majority of offerings at institutions worldwide, data shows that a high number of people have recently changed their attitude towards online learning.

A survey by online education provider Emeritus revealed that 82 percent of Americans are interested in pursuing some form of online education; of those, 78 percent claim this interest has increased in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Moreover, 69 percent of respondents who prefer free online courses say they’d also consider paying for certain online options such as online mini courses, short courses, professional certificates, online bootcamps and online undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.


“There are a lot of people right now that are feeling very economically unstable, so we find that they are interested in upskilling,” says Lisa Rohrer, Director of University Partners at Emeritus.


Perhaps surprisingly, considering how the interest for new technologies has increased in the past decade, traditional business topics such as Business, Economics and Finance were found to be the top choices for people looking to pursue further education online.

Lisa said: “People are looking at how they can make sure they’re as prepared as they can be for what the future brings, so the courses that we’re finding the most demand for are those where people are learning a new skill that they feel is really important to help them succeed.

“Topics like business analytics, for instance. People want to make sure they understand this language which has become so critical to business to make themselves more valuable employees or receive a more exciting prospect.”

However, not all institutions have been able to successfully deliver online solutions to pre-existing and prospective students on their own. In fact, during this period of uncertainty, universities across the world have turned to EdTech providers such as Emeritus and Coursera to create online portfolios, diversify the online experience they offer students and maintain business continuity.

This has made room for an increasing number of partnerships between e-learning and traditional institutions, which Lisa believes is only going to increase the demand for EdTech products and solutions in the near future.

She said: “What I hear and what I’m sensing from universities is a need for a more robust online capability. They need to have alternatives to just relying on a very traditional classroom-based experience, so I think we will see more investment in various types of EdTech opportunities.”

Lisa believes these partnerships represent a “win-win situation” for both universities and e-learning providers. On one hand, traditional institutions will be able to achieve greater flexibility and gain the resources the sector will need when lockdown measures begin to lift. On the other, EdTech companies will see a surge of revenue that’ll allow them to invest in creating more specialized e-learning opportunities for on-campus and remote students alike.

She said: “We’re giving [universities] opportunities to go through our programs as a supplement to what the school is already doing to offer a complete coursework.

“In the future, they’re going to relook at how they’re spending resources, especially whether they’re creating enough robustness in EdTech to create options that supplement their traditional learning experience.”

This article was originally published in May 2020 . It was last updated in January 2022

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