IGF 2021 WS #128
Highlights and shadows of remote learning

Organizer 1: Anna Rywczyńska, NASK - National Research Institute
Organizer 2: Karl Hopwood, European Schoolnet / Insafe
Organizer 3: Juuso Repo, University of Turku
Organizer 4: Andrzej Rylski, NASK - National Research Institute
Organizer 5: Filip Konopczynski, NASK

Speaker 1: Anna Rywczyńska, Technical Community, Eastern European Group
Speaker 2: Juuso Repo, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Emilia Zalewska, Civil Society, Eastern European Group
Speaker 4: Rafał Lange, Intergovernmental Organization, Eastern European Group
Speaker 5: Staksrud Elisabeth, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Karl Hopwood, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

Andrzej Rylski, Technical Community, Eastern European Group


Filip Konopczynski, Intergovernmental Organization, Eastern European Group


Debate - Auditorium - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

Social inequality and the pandemic: What can be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic context about the relationship between digital inequality and social and economic inequality? Similarly, what lessons can be drawn with respect to the pandemic and Internet-related human rights? What does this suggest about policy approaches for digitalisation and digital inclusion?
Inclusion, rights and stakeholder roles and responsibilities: What are/should be the responsibilities of governments, businesses, the technical community, civil society, the academic and research sector and community-based actors with regard to digital inclusion and respect for human rights, and what is needed for them to fulfil these in an efficient and effective manner?

Social inequality and the pandemic:

The workshop will address these questions very directly. It is of high importance to understand how the distance education and pandemic situation has polarized the existing inequalities and identify possible new vulnerable groups of children and youth, in order to target the post-pandemic policies and more generally, develop more inclusive digital education policies for the future.
We see diversity at both the international, national and very local levels - often at the level of a single school class. Differences in access to tools (in the study on remote education in Poland, as many as 36% of teachers indicated deficiencies in students' equipment as the greatest obstacle), differences in the life situation of students - their housing conditions, economic situation, relationships between household members - all this affects the learning process which took place in homes. The cultural capital of parents and guardians is also of great importance, as they often gave up supporting remote education in favor of other activities that the child can do at home at that time. As emphasized by the researchers, it is particularly important in the case of younger children, who need ongoing support from their parents in the course of lessons. The panelists will consider what next steps to take to first respond to the challenges of social inequalities when implementing the benefits of remote education.

Inclusion, rights and stakeholder roles and responsibilities:

The workshop will not only analyze the impact of the pandemic but also challenge the participants to formulate inclusive policy recommendations for different stakeholder groups. A well-grounded analysis of the unforeseen digital transformation of education provides a new clearer view of the challenges of digital inclusion. It will shed light to the very challenges of digital inclusion that were in place before but are now more salient due to the pandemic situation. The workshop will discuss required actions from different stakeholders and bring together knowledge to plan effective future actions and policies for digital inclusion.



Targets: The workshop aims to provide a comprehensive approach to the subject of remote education - forced on this scale by the pandemic, accelerated by a few years, but following the path marked out more and more clearly by the advancing digital revolution. Looking to the coming years, digital competences will become a core competence both in the school and work environment. However, just as the digital revolution can bring equal opportunities in access to professions and knowledge, if not preceded by advanced social actions aimed at eliminating social differences, it can become a factor permanently excluding a large percentage of people from full participation in the increasingly digital reality. Hence, it will be very important during the discussion to address such challenges as the underrepresentation of women in the world of IT professions, problems resulting from economic differences in access to devices and the network itself, as well as the problem of including children with special educational needs in the requirements of modern, more and more digitized education.


According to UNESCO, at least 1.4 billion students worldwide were directly affected by the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. For almost a billion of them going to school became an online experience. Our educational systems and families had to handle the sudden and unexpected digital revolution. In short, the pandemic became a tiger leap for the digital transformation of education. Remote learning will most likely remain a central piece of future education systems, and thus balancing its benefits and disproportional challenges is a key question for research and educational policy around the globe.

The Internet became our greatest ally in the fight for normality, for the maintenance of everyday social processes. The revolution that the education system had to undergo in such a short time opened up completely new paths in conducting didactic processes. Suddenly, it became possible to invite experts from all over the world to individual classes, to implement project work with the use of new technologies, and on a scale not present before, digital educational resources were used.

However, an ally can turn into an enemy. A whole generation of students have undergone an experiment, in which transfer of knowledge and the process of socialization was primarily happening without face-to-face contact with peers and teachers. The time of the pandemic and the time of remote education sharpened social differences, loosened relationships between people, and exposed many vulnerable groups to severe psychosocial consequences. The differences were particularly prevalent in the area of parental support and family relations. Covid stress and social isolation intensified conflicts in many families, and lots of parents had to go to their physical workplaces and leave their children to manage their schooldays alone at home. (e.g., in Poland this was approximately 90% of parents). The differences were also related to economic and cultural status, which conditioned equal access to digital tools and the skillful use of technology. It is also necessary to mention the neurodiverse children who were hit particularly hard by the lack of open educational institutions. For some, it was easier to concentrate at home as for others, the new demands for self-regulation and self-directed learning were simply immoderate.

Bearing in mind the assumptions of the EU Strategy on the rights of the child and its main areas, among which are building inclusive, quality education and meaningful and inclusive participation of children, it is crucial to be aware of social disproportions that must be eliminated before we follow the path of “the school of the future” largely based on digital technology and its related competences. Balancing the benefits and disproportional challenges of the digital transformation of education is a key question for policy and practice, and the covid crisis offers a “perfect storm” to deepen our understanding on the way forward.

The workshop will be built around an expert panel which brings together the most current multidisciplinary research and knowledge on the issue. For example, Elisabeth Staksrud, one of the authors of the European “Kids Digital lives in COVID-19 times” – project, encompassing 26 research centers in Europe. Some results of that research are quite alarming, e.g., pointing to the increasing rate of problematic Internet usage among children, reaching even 12 hours a day and emphasizing parents' concerns about the well-being of their children learning in processes where they are deprived of everyday interactions with their peers which were not mediated by the screen. A second expert will represent Finland, which is an interesting case for the issue, having a highly developed public education system and digital resources. A major Finnish survey (n=48 000) explored pupils’ perspectives and well-being during the period distance education. It will be juxtaposed with the Polish research perspective and experiences of remote education in the eyes of the younger generation and in their assessments on the challenges and opportunities - did this experience leave a mark on both the curriculum and their psychological and emotional development?
The workshop experts will try to find answers to following the following considerations:
What have we collectively learned about the process of learning itself?
What components of hybrid education are here to stay and what will soon be forgotten?
Will education finally become truly global and universal, or, on the contrary, will adults and children alike re-embrace tangibility and locality for the school experience?
How civilizational changes such as the accelerated rise of global remote, transnational workplaces should and will affect education and vice versa?
What policy changes should regulators and decision makers introduce after (or: if) the COVID-19 pandemic will start to become a distant memory?

The questions will be addressed in the workshop first by a multidisciplinary expert panel (5 members) and then with a participatory discussion among all attendees.
After an introduction, the experts will give short (5’) presentations bringing their perspective and key points, with the following topics:

- Elisabeth Staksrud, PhD: The context– digital access, skills, opportunities and risks in the context of home as a learning venue. Insights from Europe.
- Rafał Lange, PhD: Pandemic modernization of education – the experiences from the perspective of students and parents.
- Juuso Repo: Isolated but connected. How did pupils’ social relations affect the adjustment for remote learning?
- Anna Rywczyńska: Digital transformation of school - how not to lose anyone along the way
- Emilia Zalewska: Digital education - the youth perspective on teaching and being taught in times of Covid-19. What challenges and opportunities could young people face depending on their age? Is it possible to create a ”safe space” in the virtual classroom?

After the presentations, a highly experienced international moderator (Karl Hopwood) will organize a participatory discussion (50’) with the panelists, raising discussion points and making room for questions from the audience (both present and remote). There will be a supporting moderator facilitating online participation via social networks and user-generated multiple-choice quizzes platforms.

List of Speakers / Panel members:
• Elisabeth Staksrud
Elisabeth Staksrud, PhD, is a Professor at the Department of Media and Communication, University of Oslo, Norway, and chair of the Norwegian National Committee for Research Ethics in the Social Sciences and the Humanities (NESH) and the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA) Children, Youth and Media Section. Her research interests evolve around children and online risk, regulation and rights, online censorship and governance and research ethics. She is in the management group of the EU Kids Online project. For more information and publications see http://www.hf.uio.no/imk/personer/vit/estaksru/
• Rafał Lange
Rafał Lange, PhD, is a sociologist specializing in statistical analysis and youth studies. Doctor of sociology and an alumni of Paul II Catholic University of Lublin. Head of Market and Opinion Research Lab at NASK; former head of the Opinia Research Center, National Youth Research Correspondent for Poland in Directorate of Youth and Sport of Council of Europe in Strasbourg. He carried out research projects for Council of Europe, Central Statistical Office of Poland, Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland, YMCA, Ministry for Polish Affairs, Polish Ombudsman for Children, British Council. Areas of expertise: Sociology of the Internet, Quantitative Sociology, statistics, data analytics.
• Juuso Repo
Mr. Juuso Repo (M. Soc. Sc, PhD Student), in an experienced program manager, social psychologist, and social impact entrepreneur. He has worked 15 years as an expert for youth and digital media, initiating and coordinating various national and international programs and projects especially in school settings. His areas of expertise include peer relations, cyberbullying, school psychology, and impact assessment. Currently Mr. Repo works on a PhD at the University of Turku, studying the psychosocial impact of the covid-19 crisis on young people.
• Anna Rywczyńska
Co-developer and Coordinator of the Polish Safer Internet Centre and the Manager of the NASK (National Research Institute’s) Digital Education Department. A graduate of the University of Warsaw - Faculty of Journalism and Political Science, with a major in Media Economics and the PhD Candidate at the SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities. Since 2006 Anna Rywczyńska has been working as the Overall Coordinator for the Polish Safer Internet Centre. An expert in the field of kids’ and youth’s safe use of online content and new media. She is a lecturer at series of conferences, the author of articles, tools and social campaigns dedicated to online safety of youngest users. In recent years, she has been involved in, inter alia, the works of an expert groups under the ENISA Agency (European Network and Information Security Agency), ECSO (European Cybersecurity Organization) as well as Safer Internet for Children launched by the EC in 2018. Since 2003, a co-organizer of the SECURE conference, dedicated to network security, and since 2007 she has been one of the founders and organizers of the annual international conference titled „Keeping Children and Young People Safe Online”.
• Emilia Zalewska
The final year law student at the University of Warsaw. Actively involved in Internet governance initiatives since 2017, when she participated in a project #copyfighters. As a project member, she had an opportunity to take part in the Eurodig conference in Tallinn and in the Internet Governance Forum in Geneva. In 2019, she was a part of the Youth IGF Summit in Berlin, where over 100 hundred youth from all over the world together drafted 11 messages on how young people see the Internet Governance key topics. That inspired her to engage in founding Youth IGF Poland. She is also a European Youth Envoy in Generation Connect by International Telecommunication Union. Active as a tutor in the Academy of Future. Her main fields of academia interest are criminal law and human rights, especially in the digital environment.

Moderator on site:
• Karl Hopwood
Karl Hopwood is an independent online safety expert. He is a member of UKCIS (UK Council for Internet Safety) and sits on the UKCIS evidence group and the UKCIS education group as well as on the advisory board for the UK Safer Internet Centre and the education advisory board for CEOP. He also sits on Twitter’s trust and safety council and the Roblox trust and safety board where he represents the Insafe network. Karl has worked for a number of key players in the UK and abroad including CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre), BECTA (British Educational and Communications Technology Agency), the European Commission, the UN and several Local Authorities within the UK and in Europe. As an ex primary headteacher, he continues to work closely in schools across Europe with children, young people, parents and teachers to develop safer online behaviours and the promotion of digital literacy. Karl has been employed for the last 13 years as an in-house consultant for INSAFE which is the coordinating node of the EU Better Internet for Kids programme where he is responsible for the coordination of safer internet helplines across Europe. Karl is the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Marie Collins Foundation, a charity which supports young people who have been sexually abused and exploited online and is also a trustee of Childnet International. Karl has recently worked with a team developing a national online safety strategy in Rwanda and is also working with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to re-write their Child Online Protection Guidance.

• Filip Konopczyński
Researcher and analyst in the Social Research Laboratory at the NASK Institute. University of Warsaw alumni (MA in Law, MA in Cultural Anthropology), he carried out and participated in research and educational projects for NASK, Polish National Center for Research and Development, Polish Commissioner for Human Rights, National Bank of Poland, Institute for New Economic Thinking, University of Warsaw, and the Kalecki Foundation. His area of expertise cover the intersection of law, economy, human rights and technology.
Online Moderator:

• Andrzej Rylski
Since 2016, Andrzej has been working at NASK, organizing conferences and media campaigns for the Polish Safer Internet Center. His main field of expertise are children's safety on the Internet and online privacy. From 2017, he coordinates the Youth Panel for the Polish Safer Internet Centre at NASK. He is a graduate of general pedagogy at the University of Warsaw.

Expected Outcomes

By bringing together various experts working on the digital transformation of education and the covid-19 crisis, we expect to initiate new forms of knowledge collaboration among the participants. The organizers will promote for an online follow-up event among the experts present, and seek for an opportunity to produce a special publication on the issue. The publication could summarize the experiences in implementing online education during the pandemic from the perspective of students, teachers, parents and the education system based on the diverse perspective and research experience of the panelists. We will try to answer: which elements of the online education improve the educational process and which may possibly be a destructive factor.

The implementation of the panel discussion will be based on many years of experience from the organizers in conducting conferences and workshops both offline and online. The last year has been full of events involving only online participation, but still including interactions between participants and experts. In pre-pandemic times, most of the events organized by the workshop organizers were streamed online and also took advantage of the possibility of online participants joining the discussion. Similar techniques would be used for this workshop. After initial short presentations given by the panelists, a debate will be organized during which the audience, both online and on-site, will be able to comment on the issues raised on an ongoing basis through applications enabling mind mapping and brain storming (like for example "MindMeister" ( https://www.mindmeister.com/). This way of collaboration would only require all participants to have access to mobile devices and would allow online and on-site participants to exchange thoughts simultaneously. Both audiences will also be invited to ask questions through the Q&A section on the portal what will be managed by the online moderator. The slido tool (https://www.sli.do/) will also be used to allow all participants to be engaged and involved in the discussions.

The panel discussion together with introduction of the topic and round of short presentations will be moderated by a highly experienced expert and will be supported by the online moderator. Even if all panelists and moderators need to be online, the interaction with participants, including those on-site, will be assured by the use of the interactive apps described earlier and through the activities of the moderator, the aim of which will be to engage participants in asking questions, sharing opinions both through applications, as well as by asking questions live from the room or through the conference portal.

Online Participation

Usage of IGF Official Tool. Additional Tools proposed: During the workshop the online tools for creating mind maps called „MindMeister”(https://www.mindmeister.com/) will be used -
this tool enables creative way to engage participants in the conversation about main topics of the discussion. Moreover the Slido app will be used - which is a Q&A and polling app that is used to engage online participants into discussion.