As school after school shuts down in the face of the Covid-19 crisis (in now more than 140 countries), online learning opportunities have been elevated from a bonusextracurricular facility to a criticallifeline for education. Theopportunities digital technologies offer go well beyond a stop-gap solution during the crisis. Digital technology allows us to find entirely new answers to what people learn, how people learn, where people learn and when they learn.
Technology can enable teachers and students toaccess specialised materials well beyond textbooks, in multiple formatsand in ways that can bridge time and space. Alongside great teachers, intelligent online learning systems do not only teach us science;they can simultaneously observe how we study, how we learn science, the kind of tasks and thinking that interest us, and the kind of problems we find boring or difficult. Thesystems can then adapt the learning experience to suit our personal learning style with far greater granularity and precision than any traditional classroom setting possibly can. Similarly, virtual laboratories give us the opportunity to design, conduct and learn from experiments, rather than just learning about them.
In this moment of crisis, digital technology holds great promise to provide learners with access to high quality learning.However, most education systems need to pay close attentionto ensurethat technology does not amplify existing inequalities in access and quality of learningfurther. This is not only a matter ofprovidingaccess to technology and open learning resources, but will also require maintainingeffective social relationships between families, teachers and students, particularly for those students who lack the resilience, learning strategies or engagement to learn on their own.Technology can amplify the work of great teachers, but it will not replace them.