Home » Education Technology » What has the pandemic taught us about digital learning technology?
Future of EdTech Q1 2022

What has the pandemic taught us about digital learning technology?

iStock / Getty Images Plus / Ekaterina Grigoreva

Dr Charlotte Snelling

Policy Manager, Universities UK

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated unforeseen benefits of blended learning and digital technologies to universities.


The COVID-19 pandemic led to universities moving much of their teaching and learning online, as government restrictions and public health advice prevented large in-person and indoor gatherings.

With vaccinations and a greater understanding of how to minimise the risk of the virus spreading, universities have been able to re-open and welcome students back to campuses. They are enjoying the renewed access to our world class facilities and the benefits of more face-to-face interactions with staff and other students, both in and out of the classroom.

Benefits of blended learning

The experience of the pandemic showed there are huge benefits in the flexibility and opportunities that digital and online learning can provide, including:

  • Greater accessibility for students from non-traditional backgrounds or students with caring responsibilities, disabled students or those with jobs who may struggle to attend in person and/or always at the timetabled hour.
  • More opportunities to revisit and engage with online materials to cement understanding of a topic.
  • Access to global networks and world-leading experts delivering online guest lectures.
  • Increased capacity for study skills and careers workshops that are no longer limited by room availability.
  • More engagement in lectures through interactive chat functions and online polls.

It would be foolish to think we should simply return to a pre-pandemic world without considering these findings – not least because the pandemic has arguably been a catalyst for changes that have been talked about for years.

Preparing graduates 

We also know that the ability to use digital technologies and work remotely are now important skills our graduates will need with the changing world of work. Universities have a role to play in ensuring students are confident users, such as delivering an online presentation, curating an online art show or holding an online consultation with a patient or client. 

The ability to use digital technologies and work remotely are now important skills our graduates will need.

Digitally enhanced future 

Universities are now exploring digitally enhanced learning, mixing face-to-face and online opportunities, supported by appropriate edtech – complementing already high-quality courses delivering accessible academic content, improved student experience and outcomes.

This presents exciting opportunities to reconsider how we use our buildings to best facilitate learning, how we develop more authentic assessments and how we redesign curriculums to best prepare our students for the future. 

Next article