(11 Aug 2020) Pearson, the world’s learning company, today said more than three out of every four learners globally say the COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed education as we know it. Those findings appear in the second annual Global Learner Survey, which captures the opinions and views of learners worldwide.
The survey shows learners believe it’s unlikely there will be a return to the pre-COVID world of entirely full-time in-person work and learning. As they come to terms with this new reality, learners want schools and governments to address inequality in the learning experience, and desire digital skills they believe they will need to thrive in the new economy.
Pearson conducted the study during the pandemic with Harris Insights & Analytics, giving learners in seven countries the opportunity to voice their opinions on primary, secondary and higher education; and careers and the future of work. The poll surveyed more than 7,000 people, ranging in age from 16 to 70. Now in its second year, Pearson’s Global Learner Survey is the most comprehensive global public opinion survey of its kind.
“As learners adjust to a world forever altered by a pandemic, we felt that it was more important than ever that we hear their voices. They understand that the future of work and learning is now a dynamic mix of online and in-person experiences,” said John Fallon, chief executive of Pearson. “Learners are resilient, so they are learning and moving forward in new ways to seize that opportunity, no matter what the future holds.”
The Global Learner Survey’s top findings included:
- A belief that COVID-19 is revolutionizing education and work. 88% of learners globally say online learning will be a permanent part of primary, secondary and higher education moving forward. 77% say the pandemic already has permanently changed the way people work, with 90% saying people they must become more comfortable working remotely and in highly digital environments. 82% say the pandemic will give rise to new kinds of jobs, and nearly three out of every four say it will result in rethinking of their career paths.
- Conflicting feelings about universities, especially when it comes to returning students to campuses this fall. While 77% of people globally and 75% of Americans think reopening universities is vital to a healthy economy, most are conflicted about how to do it safely, with 62% of people globally and 64% of Americans saying colleges and universities are risking the lives of students by reopening this fall. 84% believe that university students can still have a good experience this fall with a mix of in person and online learning.
- A broader increase in trust and confidence in educators and education systems, because of how they responded to COVID-19. Two-thirds of people globally said their education system did a good job adjusting to the pandemic. In fact, this year more people globally (54%) said education systems are providing a quality experience than a year ago (49%). This year, even more people rate their country’s primary, secondary, and higher education systems as great or good compared to other countries. A notable exception is Brazil, the only country in the 2020 survey that saw faith in its education system decline.
- A desire to see education systems do more to address inequality. Even though learners continue to believe education delivers opportunity, they worry that opportunity is not equal, with 88% saying they want schools to do more about the inequality. 70% globally believe the pandemic will deepen education inequalities, especially among younger students. In the U.S., 71% of people say that the pandemic has made them more likely to support student loan relief or government funded free-tuition programs.
- An acceptance of online education that includes a desire to see it improved. 88% of learners globally want educational institutions to maximize the learning experience through technology, though 67% say the education community uses technology less effectively than other industries, such as healthcare or banking. Given the choice to invest in public education, the survey’s global respondents said they would prioritize technology for underserved learners, followed by ensuring schools are better prepared for online learning.
- A strong interest in attaining digital skills to thrive through and beyond the pandemic. More than half of respondents said they are in need of new digital skills because their job status has changed, with 89% saying they need digital skills, such as virtual collaboration and data analysis to move forward in this economy. Indeed, 77% of people say working remotely has taught them they need different skills than what was needed while working in an office. Around the world, 71% intend to keep working remotely in the future.
To view the findings of the Global Learner Survey, including full findings for the US visit: go.pearson.com/global-learner-survey
The original press release is here.