Children’s experience with online learning during coronavirus

Telia Company asked 7 000 students across seven countries in the Nordic and Baltics about their experiences from studying from home. Despite challenges and substantial changes in habits that happened overnight, their overall experience has been largely positive. The survey gives insights into how digital schooling can be further developed in the future.

“The survey highlights some clear trends, like the quite high number of satisfied students, despite this being a big shift happening during a very challenging time. At the same time, we also see very mixed responses in some areas, which may indicate that digital schooling suits some students better than other. As schools continue to develop digital methods and remote teaching also post-corona, this must be further looked into, to ensure that no student is left behind”, says Sara Nordbrand, Head of Group Sustainability at Telia Company.

School closures during the coronavirus pandemic have impacted 1.6 billion children around the world. To get a better understanding of how students experience digital learning, Telia Company used its forum for children’s participation – The Children’s Advisory Panel – to conduct a survey.

7 000 school children aged 10-18 in Norway, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia as well as Swedish students aged 16 to 18 participated in the survey conducted by Ipsos in May. Several children rights organizations such as Childhood, Friends and Bris, provided input and supported the study which found that:

• More than half of the children were satisfied with the overall experience of studying from home. Only 15% were dissatisfied.
• Most children felt safer (67%), happier (52%) and more relaxed (46%) as a result of studying from home. 45% agreed that their ability to solve school tasks independently has increased.
• 37% state that learning and results, as well as the ability to finish tasks in time (31%) have improved.
• Three out of four children find that the way of learning has changed, while six out of ten children learnt new communication tools and new study methods.
• Almost all state that they have had access to a computer. For most children the internet access has worked well, however the overall experience in digital learning is significantly lower among the 10% of children with poor internet connection quality.
• In open responses children noted that they would like to continue digital learning in the future, either integrated with regular classroom learning, when they are ill or as part of lifelong learning.

Children state that there has been less bullying. However, going to schools is described as more inspiring than studying from home – 36% state the latter tends to get boring and 29% describe the new situation as tiring. While the hours of sleep and screen time have increased, exercise and sports have decreased for around half of the children during this period. When it comes to online safety, around one in ten state that they have been contacted by an unknown adult while studying from home, the share is larger in the Nordics than in the Baltics.

“The insights in this report – as shared with us by children themselves – can help us gain a deeper understanding of how to improve digital learning for the future. Right now, both parents and teachers are working hard together with children to take us through these times of crisis. Post-corona it will be important to act on the learnings, continue to empower kids and protect them against online threats. These threats are not new to kids – they exist during their spare time but enter the school day when learning take place online,” says Susanne Drakborg, Program Manager, World Childhood Foundation.

Click here (scroll to “Children and digital learning”) for more information about the study, the full report and see what the children say.