OUP report shows disadvantaged students ‘significantly affected’ during COVID-19 crisis

A new study published by Oxford University Press (OUP) under the title ‘Addressing the Deepening Digital Divide’ revealed how disadvantaged students were’ significantly affected’ during the pandemic. The study hinges on the views of 1,557 school and English language teachers from India and 91 other countries on the digital divide, including the barriers to effective teaching and learning, and the impact of the divide on learners’ development. Some of the key findings of the study are:

  • 68% said the biggest barrier to digital learning was poor digital access
  • 56% said teachers and learners do not have the skills needed to make digital learning a success
  • 6 in 10 teachers said engaging students in online lessons was their biggest challenge during the pandemic
  • 1 in 2 teachers said a lack of parental understanding of digital tools/platforms limited the effectiveness of support available to students 
  • 70%  said the most disadvantaged students lost learning due to limited or no access to digital devices

The study identifies some recommendations for policymakers and educators. First, a greater focus on independent learning is required to implement digital learning successfully by empowering students to learn independently offline, as well as in an online group. Second, build digital competency skills among educators, students, and parents by engaging with parents to unlock students’ potential and supporting students who are not confident with technology. Third, use targeted resources to bridge both ends of the divide by investing in free resources for educators, students, and parents.