Check out COVID-19 elearning resources at the end.
In the early weeks of 2020, coronavirus has spread around the world.
As the death toll from the respiratory virus has surpassed 2,500,
numerous regions and cities have restricted travel, discouraged public
gatherings, or put lockdowns in place. While many have been forced to
cancel their plans as a result, a growing number of schools, businesses,
and organizations have sought to conduct business and education as
usual using technology and eLearning applications.
Lockdowns and quarantines are affecting millions around the world and forcing people to come up with creative solutions. Armani recently announced it would live stream a runway event from behind closed doors. Numerous tech companies have moved their operations fully online. In China, people are even attending online bedroom rave parties.
Education and learning at all levels has also largely moved online to
cope with a teacher and student body who can’t leave their homes.
Background on the Coronavirus
The Chinese government first contacted the World Health Organization
on December 31, 2019, saying that a growing number of people in the
coastal city of Wuhan were falling ill with an unknown respiratory
illness. Each of the early patients in some way had contact with the
city’s fish and meat markets.
Within a week, experts had ruled our severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which had broken out in China in 2002. A few days later, it was identified as a coronavirus—a family of viruses that spread among animals and, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), originates from bats. The virus infecting humans was officially named Coronavirus Disease 2019, or COVID-19.
In Wuhan, cases soon began spreading from human to human contact.
Symptoms include mild to sever coughing, shortness of breath, and fever.
For some, it can be fatal. In the following weeks, the number of
reported cases and fatalities began rising and spreading around the
world. As of February 24, 77,150 cases had been reported worldwide,
which have caused 2,592 deaths.
The vast majority of these have occurred in China. Neighboring
countries have also been hit. South Korea has so far confirmed 833 cases
and seven deaths. Recently, however, the virus has surged in Iran and
As a result, numerous lockdowns have been put in place, and many public places and institutions, including schools, have been closed. China alone has locked down over 45 million people. School closures have affected students in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Laos, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Iran, Mongolia, and elsewhere.
China launches a 90-Terabyte online learning platform for simultaneous use by 50 million students
To deliver the platform so quickly, the government contracted tech companies like Baidu, Huawei, and Alibaba, along with telecom providers China Telecom, China Unicom, and China Mobile, to work together to provide the cloud capacity and bandwidth. The platform is now operating with 90 terabytes of bandwidth and uses over 7,000 servers. It has been built for simultaneous use by 50 million students.
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Drawing on experience from other natural disasters
In an opinion piece for the South China Morning Post, retired biology teacher Anjali Hazari describes how many schools are already practiced in switching to eLearning days due to other events.
As Hanzari writes, “Experience of bad weather, and coping with the
disruption caused by recent anti-government protests in Hong Kong, have
helped.” Typhoons frequently hit the island state and cause schools to
Hanzari’s colleagues also describe how they use numerous online
services, like Google Classroom and Hangouts, Zoom, Active Learn,
Tapestry, and more to continue learning.
In China, the government has begun broadcasting primary school
lessons on state television’s China Education Television Channel 4.
According to the Chinese Ministry of Education, this is both to limit
the amount of people using their platform and to protect younger
In Hong Kong, educators also told the South China Morning Post’s Anjali
Hazari that their eLearning response to coronavirus differed depending
on the age of the student. “We are particularly careful to limit the
amount of screen time our youngest students are given on any day,” said
Sean Lynch, head of the Chinese International School.
A boon for the EdTech sector
While the coronavirus has hurt businesses around the world and hit the global stock exchange hard, it has provided a huge demand for edtech and eLearning services. Speaking to Bloomberg, iTutorGroup founder Eric Yang said that people taking courses on his platform in the first week of February had tripled compared to the previous year.
“The coronavirus is redefining the online education sector,” Yang told Bloomberg.
“I expected online classes would surpass physical tutoring businesses
in three years, but now I think the turning point will come much
How long will Coronavirus last?
It appears that, at least in China, the response has slowly brought
coronavirus under control. On February 24, the WHO said that the daily
instances of new cases being reported peaked between January 23 and
February 2. Ever since, there has been a steady decline.
“China has taken one of the most ancient strategies for infectious
disease control and rolled out probably the most ambitious and I would
say agile and aggressive disease-contagion efforts in history,” said Dr.
Bruce Aylward, an epidemiologist who led the team surveying the virus
outbreak in China for the WHO.
But while it appears that the danger is declining at the site of the outbreak, coronavirus cases have continued to break out in other countries. School closures will likely be a part of the response plan in each region, and it’s possible that schools around the world will need to employ eLearning to keep learners on track for some time to come.
COVID-19 Resources to protect your learners and yourself