As COVID-19 centres the role of e-learning in education, this study examines the digital infrastructure of 30 countries in the OECD to uncover those best prepared for the digital shift
- Internet Broadband speed in the U.K. is 67.2 Mbit/s, less than half the speed of the U.S.
- The U.K. has 4,281 online education courses, more than France, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands combined.
- The U.K. surprisingly ranks fourth for government spending on education per pupil, at 38% of GDP per capita.
The digital learning platform Preply has published a study that examines the technological infrastructure and accessibility in 30 countries worldwide. The state of digital infrastructure, the number of digital educational courses, and the market for e-learning were all analysed to uncover the countries best prepared for a shift to online learning.
School closures as a result of coronavirus exacerbated weaknesses in the U.K.’s digital infrastructure. This study compares the digital infrastructure in the U.K. with other countries worldwide to identify necessary areas for development. Pertinent data was analysed on the state of the nation’s digital infrastructure, digital educational offerings, and the e-learning market to give a comprehensive overview of multiple factors that influence access to e-learning.
“We are convinced that e-learning has a great potential to improve educational opportunities worldwide,” says Kirill Bigai, CEO of Preply. “The coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated that access to digital education is unequally distributed, but that there are ample opportunities to begin investing in the digital infrastructure necessary for a national shift to online learning. This study aims to uncover the extent to which all learners have access to adequate digital tools and resources.”
The U.K. ranks 16th place overall and first place in the index for accessibility to online education with 91.7% of students having access to computers from home. It also has 4,281 distance learning courses, by far the highest in Europe. By comparison, Germany has just 220 and Spain 260. However, the U.K. ranks average in the index for hourly salaries offered to tutors, at £14.60 per hour, compared to £26.56 an hour in Denmark and £17.17 an hour in France. The U.K. is also pulled drastically down in the ranking due to its broadband and mobile download speeds. Broadband speed, for example, stands at 67.2 Mbit/s in the U.K., while France, Spain and Canada, boast internet speeds more than twice as fast.
Table 1: Top 16 countries with the best conditions for e-learning, with selected factors*
|Rank||Country||Access to computers||Internet- speed Broadband||Tutoring per hour||Score|
|8||New Zealand||80.0%||114.8 Mbit/s||£15.15||73.8|
|12||United States||72.0%||138.0 Mbit/s||£14.25||61.1|
|16||United Kingdom||91.7%||67.2 Mbit/s||£14.60||51.9|
*This list is an extraction of a greater study. A complete overview of all data, methodology and sources can be found at https://preply.com/en/d/e-learning-index/
- Mexico offers the worst conditions for e-learning offerings. Only 44.3% of Mexicans have private computer access, and slow internet makes real-time collaboration impossible.
- The U.S. offers 9,303 online degree programs and courses that can be taken entirely online, while also providing the greatest variety of digital educational opportunities.
- Canada offers the best value for money when it comes to internet access. In addition, the Canadian government invests around 31% of GDP per capita in tertiary education.
- Internal data from Preply reveals that the biggest market growth last year was in Portugal.
- Japan ranks surprisingly poorly, in 26th place. The technologically advanced country offers a rich market for e-learning offerings, but sluggish Internet and inadequate digital educational opportunities are holding back the potential for e-learning.
About Preply: Preply is an online learning platform, connecting a global network of tens of thousands of active learners and 15,000 verified tutors to study and teach over 50 languages. With tutor and student matches being made through a machine-learning algorithm, recommended tutors create customised lesson plans to suit the learner’s budget, schedule and current knowledge. To date, students from 150 countries have taken over two million classes from teachers based in 110 countries.
Preply was founded in 2013 by Ukrainian based cofounders Kirill Bigai, Dmytro Voloshyn, and Serge Lukyanov. The company has since raised over USD $15 million and has 145 employees of 25 nationalities working across offices in Kyiv and Barcelona.