How Universities are Embracing Online Learning During the Coronavirus Outbreak

online learning during coronavirus

As isolation measures and closed campuses force many universities to move their educational offerings online, how are they embracing the latest digital tools and platforms?  

With the ongoing spread of the coronavirus, technology and online learning platforms have become increasingly essential. 

When adapting to this new normal, universities have quickly evolved their digital tools and platforms to ensure uninterrupted educational delivery to their isolated students.  

QS recently established an ongoing survey of higher education professionals to understand the challenges they face and how they’re embracing online learning opportunities.  

According to our analysts, 50% of the survey respondents had already switched some of their scheduled courses online, and we predict this number is only set to increase as the coronavirus continues.  

One respondent stated: “Our biggest challenge was how to move from traditional education to e-learning and how to overcome the problem of practical courses and training.” 

For those struggling to move online or rapidly scale up learning platforms, edtech companies like iTeach.worldRaftr, Aula, and Intergreat are offering remote teaching tools and online platforms free of charge. 

Jean-Pierre Guittard, CEO and founder of, states that: “I think what is going to change here is that schools are being forced to make the change that they need to make because in the background there’s been this huge market shift where people have realized that we have these communication tools… This is waking people up and making them modernize their approach to instruction.” 

This sentiment is something that Robert Hsiung, China CEO of the online educational company EMERITUS, agrees with wholeheartedly. QS recently interviewed Robert to get his take on the surge in online learning: 

“The massive move to online is forcing the education system to figure out how to drive engagement at scale in their courses. This has created a special window for us to leverage our experience in supporting these schools. 

“I believe that the coronavirus will force educators to revolutionize the way they teach, moving from a lecture-listen model to an interactive, learn-by-doing model. We are well suited to capture the wave.” 

While traditional, on-campus learning will inevitably return to prominence once the coronavirus abates, universities can use this crisis as an opportunity to learn more about new digital tools and how to best leverage them. 

This switch to online is something that students are also demanding. In an accompanying survey of prospective international students58% of respondents expressed some interest in studying their degree online due to coronavirus restrictions, while only 43% stated that they had no interest in studying online.  

Additionally, 51% of prospective international students surveyed said that they expect universities to move more of their lectures online.  

With students needing strong online educational offerings and universities quickly embracing new tools and platforms, online learning during the coronavirus outbreak will rapidly develop.  

To discover more insights about how higher education institutions are adapting to this new learning landscape, please see our QS COVID-19 Resources Hub 


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