AERA and OECD Host Webinar on Education Research Worldwide in a COVID and Post-COVID World
AERA and OECD Host Webinar on Education Research Worldwide in a COVID and Post-COVID World

September  2020

On September 23, AERA and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) co-hosted a webinar, “Education Research Worldwide in a COVID and Post-COVID World,” which drew an audience of over 1,750 researchers, education leaders, educators, and other viewers from 98 countries.

AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine and Stéphan Vincent-Lancrin, Deputy Head of the Innovation and Measuring Progress Division and Senior Analyst at OECD, kicked off the webinar by welcoming the global audience and introducing the agenda.

“We are thrilled to present this webinar to you today worldwide,” said Levine. “There is probably no issue more important during this Covid and post-Covid period than how we, the education research community, and those who seek to connect research to important issues in policy and practice, address the perfect storm of challenges brought on by the pandemic.”

Joining Levine and Vincent-Lancrin was an international panel of accomplished scholars: Hidenori Fujita, past president of the Japanese Educational Research Association (Tsuru University); AERA President Shaun R. Harper (University of Southern California); Debra Myhill, president of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (University of Exeter); and Joe O’Hara, president of the European Educational Research Association (Dublin City University).

Levine and Vincent-Lancrin moderated an interactive discussion with panelists, who began with brief reflections on the impact and long-term consequences of Covid-19 on education and learning in their countries and areas of inquiry.

During the discussion, panelists addressed priorities and planning for education research during a time of deep uncertainty and dislocation, sharing insights on how the worldwide research community can collaboratively contribute to the design of Covid and post-Covid education and learning.

"The education research community needs to put more effort into examining digital poverty and exclusion, staff and student well-being, and educational leadership in an unpredictable crisis situation," said O'Hara.

“Although educational inequality is a terrible thing, now is the time to start drawing on what we have learned to do something about it," Myhill added, inviting education researchers to embrace the challenge of addressing educational inequalities in societies around the world at this time.

Harper noted, “This pandemic provides a renewed opportunity for education researchers to work with social scientists, health researchers, and others who are engaged in the analysis of the effects of Covid-19.”

He added that a rapid response is needed to further understand and monitor related challenges, and new research processes could be implemented to help inform stakeholders during and after the crisis. “The world needs us to respond much more quickly right now with insights and proposed evidence-based interventions. We need journal editors to be much faster in helping education researchers publish very helpful research at the moment.”

Panelists also discussed the need for evidence-based policy recommendations to help education leaders, government officials, schools, and education systems make sound decisions.

“Often the type of evidence required for policymaking is not the type of evidence we are producing,” O’Hara said. “We need to think about how we manage what we say in a way that makes it most useful to the audience that we are speaking to.”

After the panel discussion, Levine introduced Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills at OECD, to continue the discussion highlighting efforts undertaken by OECD and drawing upon his expertise at the apex of research and policy.

Schleicher’s remarks further advanced the international dimensions of the discussion. He noted, based on OECD studies, that for countries to safely reopen schools, it is crucial to give teachers the space to investigate, analyze, and design the environment. He also emphasized the need for education researchers to play a bigger role in designing education practices and approaches to education and learning.

"Technology companies now make important educational decisions about the research and the applications,” said Schleicher. “There is a big role for the research community to invent approaches that are not driven by technology but by research and the science of learning.”

Even with such a large turnout, attendees had an opportunity for engagement with participants through a 30-minute Q&A period, with many questions anchored on research opportunities, challenging issues, and next steps. 

Vincent-Lancrin emphasized that next steps were very much on the AERA-OECD joint agenda and thanked all of the participants for their openness and interest in doing so.

“I feel so enriched by what we can do tomorrow by virtue of this conversation today,” said Levine. “There are concrete things that we can do together, looking over time and looking at the promise of doing things in new ways. We are going to hit the ground running.”

The video recording of the webinar will be posted on the AERA website in early October.

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