Brain power

Is remote learning better than we think?

Originally posted on The Horizons Tracker.

COVID-19 has forced students around the world to learn remotely via a range of video-based technologies.  The transition has raised concern among many that the education students receive is not comparable to face-to-face classes.  It’s an accusation new research from the University of Birmingham disputes, at least as far as teacher education itself is concerned.

The paper explores the literature around both remote and blended education to understand whether they can be effective, and if so, how.  The assessment suggests that the various tools and technologies used in both approaches can be used effectively together to create new approaches for assessment, discussion, and reflection that can improve educational practice.

“The literature we have reviewed, suggests that remote and blended teacher education approaches show considerable promise and may have distinct advantages as well as disadvantages relative to solely face-to-face approaches,” the authors say. “At the moment the evidence base is not strong, but what we have is encouraging. Remote and blended approaches to teacher education already are and I think are likely to increasingly become important parts of the teacher education landscape in the future. The overall reading of the literature is that there is no reason why remote and online teacher education cannot achieve principles of effective learning design in teacher education such as an orientation to pupil outcomes, differentiation for teacher starting points, support for high quality collaboration and reflective practice.”

Embracing the change

The researchers found that video technology should be embraced as it has considerable potential for bringing classroom interactions into the teacher education space without harming face-to-face observations, especially during the pandemic.

What’s more, it was also found to provide a high degree of flexibility around timing, which can help teachers fit their teaching around other professional commitments and the school timetable, which the researchers suggest would avoid them having to use the weekend for group activities.

The technology is not without its challenges, however, especially in areas such as collaboration in a remote and blended space.  It’s also crucial to ensure presence is maintained in the online and blended environment to avoid high attrition or passive engagement among students.

There were also various challenges discovered regarding the accessibility of the technology, ranging from rudimentary things, such as getting the technology working, up to more difficult problems, such as securing participation.  There are clearly issues therefore in terms of establishing standards for online teaching that can boost engagement and participation.

In conclusion, the report finds that remote and online teacher education can be effective, and indeed does have an impact on teacher and student outcomes, especially when there are large numbers of students.

The rapid review which was completed over the course of about four weeks, obtained and screened 7,354 research papers from five search databases, containing dozens of library collections.

Article source: Is Remote Learning Better Than We Think?

Header image source: Tumisu on Pixabay, Public Domain.

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Adi Gaskell

I'm an old school liberal with a love of self organizing systems. I hold a masters degree in IT, specializing in artificial intelligence and enjoy exploring the edge of organizational behavior. I specialize in finding the many great things that are happening in the world, and helping organizations apply these changes to their own environments. I also blog for some of the biggest sites in the industry, including Forbes, Social Business News, Social Media Today and, whilst also covering the latest trends in the social business world on my own website. I have also delivered talks on the subject for the likes of the NUJ, the Guardian, Stevenage Bioscience and CMI, whilst also appearing on shows such as BBC Radio 5 Live and Calgary Today.

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