DIGITAL LEARNING IN A POST-PANDEMIC ECONOMY: EVIDENCE FROM EUROPEAN COUNTRIES

Authors

Keywords
Covid-19, digital learning, education, Europe, cluster analysis, programming models

Abstract
Background: The Covid-19 pandemic has enabled countries to jump faster into the future of digital learning. However, the question arises as to what the lasting effects of the pandemic would be, in terms of what education will look like in the post-Covid era; will this way of learning become the new normal or should the world immediately be returned to pre-pandemic mode of physical classroom.

Purpose: This article aims to address the above-mentioned challenge by examining trends, shifts, and changes in doing online courses or using online learning materials across European countries prior to the outbreak of the pandemic until the time when many countries removed the measures.

Methods: The analysis is based on Eurostat statistical data for 37 European countries regarding Internet use by individuals doing online courses and Internet use in general from 2019 to 2022. Aside from descriptive statistical analysis and distribution of data and trends, a cluster analysis is performed to examine how different groups of countries respond to pandemic-induced changes and how they can move forward in terms of digital learning practices. All statistical measurements are performed in the Python programming language using diverse set of libraries, including algorithm for conducting a cluster analysis.

Results/conclusions: The results suggest that during the temporary physical closures due to the pandemic, online courses were considered a safe backup system for learning and training, but the popularity of virtual courses declined as social restrictions began to ease. At the same time, the composition of clusters evolves over time, which points to changes in the dynamics of engagement in online courses among various groups of countries. Overall, the analysis made here represents a useful guide for formulating strategies to further promote and support digital inclusion and online education initiatives.

JEL: I21, C38, C80.
Pages: 20

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