A New York City high school student listens to her teacher's lesson plan videos daily as schools migrate to online learning amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
The pandemic has had a "massive impact" on students – and there is a growing gap between those who can use online learning and those who cannot, says Yale University President Emeritus.
"It's a massive impact … about 1.6 billion students have been displaced from their schools from kindergarten to university. So the impact has been huge," Richard Levin told CNBC as one of the attendees at the Singapore summit, which is practically taking place this year.
"There has been some resilience – the students are learning – although a huge gap opens between students who are best able to use online resources and those who are not," he added. He identified a problem with overcrowded home environments that are "inhospitable" to digital learning.
Many schools have turned to digital learning to replace classroom training as the virus spread around the world. Up to 192 countries have closed schools and left 1.6 billion students without personal learning, the United Nations said this week.
The United Nations predicted that at least 24 million students could still leave school because millions did not have internet access or devices to participate in virtual learning. School reopening has become a hot button issue, especially in the US, where President Donald Trump has been pushing for schools to reopen regardless of how widespread the virus is in the community.
However, Levin stressed that online platforms like Coursera, which have some free online courses, are fully accessible on mobile phones. He was formerly Managing Director of Coursera and continues to be a Senior Advisor.
"The proliferation of cell phones in developing countries is growing. In Africa in particular, there is still a significant access problem, but things are improving a lot," he said.
"One thing we have learned during this time that universities have been forced to go online is that all of the lessons platforms like Coursera have learned over the past eight years have become incredibly useful to the universities' existing endeavors are … We have seen a tremendous increase in online platform usage over the past six months, "Levin said.
– CNBC's Will Feuer contributed to this report.