Classroom Technology

What Schools Really Learned From Remote Learning

By Mark Lieberman — June 27, 2022 2 min read
Young girl looking bored during online class at home.
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Remote learning is—for now—a thing of the past in much of America’s K-12 system. But it’s not likely to stay that way forever.

Natural disasters driven by climate change, future outbreaks of COVID or other diseases, snow storms, and even efforts to save money on fuel costs could present schools with dilemmas over whether and how to maintain instruction. And some students are still learning remotely, if their district provides resources for that model.

School districts will need long-term strategies, then, for engaging students when they aren’t physically present in school buildings, two researchers argue in a new paper. Alvaro Brito, a doctoral student at Boise State University who serves as 21st century learning specialist at the Compton school district in California, and Devery Rodgers, assistant professor of educational leadership at California State University-Long Beach, argue that districts should:

  1. Empower teachers with online course design experience to lead remote teaching efforts.
  2. Support educators struggling with the basics of remote learning, rather than expecting them to learn on their own.
  3. Develop systems that use data to strengthen educators’ understanding of their students’ progress.
  4. Overcommunicate and collaborate, rather than working in isolation.

“Instead of anticipating things going ‘back to normal,’ create a “new normal” of embracing technology to facilitate student engagement,” Brito and Rodgers write.

The pair developed the paper by digging into the archives of their experiences helping teachers offer remote and hybrid instruction to students between March 2020 and June 2021.

They presented their findings virtually on June 26 during the International Society for Technology in Education annual conference in New Orleans. The session recording is available online for conference attendees.

The report offers an opportunity to learn from the unique circumstances of the pandemic, rather than leaving it behind and returning to the former status quo.

Many teachers and school staff members struggled to keep students engaged during the early period of the pandemic. But others found success using videoconferencing and other ed-tech platforms to maintain connections and keep students on track.

For more on the future of remote and hybrid learning, read Education Week reporter Alyson Klein’s interview with two online instruction experts. And follow along with all of Education Week’s ISTE 2022 coverage on edweek.org.

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