The pandemic of coronavirus illness (COVID-19) and the resulting lockdown and physical separation measures created not only unparalleled disruption in education and training but also catalyzed distant learning innovation. While rapid switches to distance learning preserved access to learning and skill development in some situations, pre-existing social and digital barriers robbed the most marginalized groups of continual learning and put them at risk of slipping further behind.

With a few exceptions, the greater use of remote learning solutions has not aided in the acquisition of practical skills or the organization of work-based learning, both of which are critical to success. Business closures and profit losses had an impact on employment and chances for good work, as well as a reduction in the number of apprenticeship slots available in businesses. Lack of operational distance-learning platforms and educational resources, disruptions to assessment and certification, and a general decline in the quality of training resulted in demotivation among students and teachers, which, when combined with rising economic hardship, increased the likelihood of people dropping out of school.

Negative effects of In-person training

From frontline managers to top executives, there has been a substantial increase in the use of digital delivery around the world. Digitally enabled experiences have also provided new benefits in countries such as Asia, where travel restrictions and work-from-home laws have been in place for weeks.

People who are no longer connected with their co-workers in a co-located company will feel a stronger sense of community, purpose, and focus. Organizations all over the world are adopting digital learning to improve cooperation among teams that work remotely or across time zones by taking courses together and collaborating in virtual formats (such as videoconferencing and instant messaging). These are compelling grounds for putting a greater emphasis on digital learning as the number of persons working remotely grows as a result of COVID-19.

It's too early to tell how COVID-19 will affect the faster adoption of digital learning in the long run. What's changed today is that, for the time being, keeping people safe and decreasing risk has superseded cost as the primary motivator for digital learning. This provides an opportunity for learning leaders to promote current digitally-enabled portfolios of learning offerings as a method to assist colleagues during difficult times. Employees' attention to accessible digital services may be boosted by targeted communication that reminds them that learning doesn't stop when travel is limited, for example.

The current publication, based on the results of an online survey of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic conducted by the International Labor Office (ILO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the World Bank between 5 April and 15 May 2020, shows that the crisis may have an upside. The survey found a slew of promising practices in the development of flexible learning and assessment alternatives, ranging from high-tech to low-tech to no-tech solutions, all driven by local settings and evolving as the crisis developed.

Learning at The Time of COVID-19

The survey's findings reveal a lack of resilience when confronted with a crisis of the magnitude and kind of COVID-19, as well as how this lack of readiness can compound the problems already present in those systems. The crisis has brought to light a lack of suitable technical infrastructure, digital skills, and pedagogical resources, as well as the detrimental effects that this can have in the short and long term, especially for the most vulnerable demographic groups.

Many teachers and trainers lacked the necessary skills to adapt to new teaching methods, keep students involved and motivated in distance learning, and manage classes from afar. Teachers in some circumstances lacked the appropriate technology and internet connection, and reorienting their training tactics in a short amount of time caused a significant deal of stress, strain, and worry, jeopardizing the teaching staff's working conditions.

Balancing professional and personal responsibilities, such as their caregiving responsibilities, was difficult for some teachers, and prolonged in-person training raised worries about their safety and health in several countries and locations. Given the critical role of teachers and trainers in maintaining a positive learning environment, these issues could have a significant impact on the quality of education and training if they are not addressed.

Despite the difficulties and negative consequences of the COVID-19 crisis discussed in this chapter, it should be noted that in some cases, the crisis has simply accelerated the already underway transition to the digitalization of training centers and programs, while emphasizing the importance of developing digital skills, particularly among trainers and learners. Many countries have made attempts to improve learning platforms and make remote learning possible, while also addressing system-wide constraints.

Alternatives to traditional approaches to practical skill development and assessment