Remote Teaching Is Eroding Learning

Remote teaching or distance learning has revealed that teachers are ill-equipped to teach using technology.

This shouldn’t be a surprise either as virtually all teachers have been given zero training to teach virtually.

Some teachers are very good at doing Google Meets or whatever you use but others…well, let’s just say, they could do better.

One thing that has been observed is that teachers ask far fewer questions when online than they do when teaching face to face (F2F). Video-conferencing has eroded questioning skills.

Teachers have shifted from asking lots of thinking questions to being far more instructional.

The virtual space is a hard one to teach in but that doesn’t stop teachers engaging their pupils and getting them thinking. The goal of virtual classroom teaching should be the same as actual classroom teaching and that is to encourage productive discourse, critical thinking and problem-solving.

Lessons should be that, lessons and not watching instructional videos or just being given something to do and the teacher disappears. The visible thinking classroom has disappeared and learning is largely passive.

Virtual conferencing tools like Google Meet or Zoom have pressed mute on discussions and collaboration as some students are reluctant to speak up and teachers have forgotten to keep asking questions and kick-starting learning conversations. The sense of community and the sense of purpose is being lost.

Learning is a social process and teachers need to work extra hard to prompt online collaboration and offer plenty of  opportunities for students to be engaging with each other and speaking their minds.

Active assessment has literally been thrown out of the window and it would now be very difficult for any teacher to have a reliable grip on what any of their students are thinking and understanding.

How often do teachers really spend on promoting student dialogue, discourse and convergence with their peers?

Google Meets and Zoom have pride themselves on bringing people together and they do when they are effectively facilitated and used as a space for learning. They do a fine job when they are used as a classroom space and when teachers bring students together.

Students are now working in splendid isolation but that isn’t so splendid. This silo working is deeply damaging as the connections between teaching, learning and assessment are invisible.

Teachers must use videoconferencing more creatively to encourage community, shared learning and get a grip on what students know, don’t know and partly know. Term reports are pretty much guesswork now.

Remote learning can be dynamic and three-dimensional but it in the wrong hands it is flat, lifeless and stale.

Should Ofsted be inspecting online lessons? Of course they should. This is an educational space and the quality of teaching needs serious scrutiny as some teachers are giving students a good deal and some are giving them a dud deal.

Remote learning is a golden opportunity to be creative and innovate.


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