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Remote learning satisfaction: The facts and what we can learn from them

29 April 2021

March of last year marked the beginning of a global need for immediate high-quality distance learning. A recent UK study offers insightful statistics of educators’ and parents’ remote education experience. What can we learn from remote learning satisfaction, now and after the pandemic?

In the months ahead, schools will continue to rely on remote and hybrid learning solutions to provide adequate education. A comprehensive survey carried out by the UK’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) during the summer and autumn terms of 2020 predicts that online learning will remain part of the way we teach and learn even after the pandemic.

With evidence based on interviews with UK education professionals, teacher and parent questionnaires, and focus group discussions, Ofsted provides useful insights into the quality of remote solutions and how teachers and parents have experienced distance learning. Drawing on their data and our own 2020 customer satisfaction survey, we have listed the main lessons learned from 1 year of distance learning.

1. Remote education solutions: Fit for the future?

When schools and districts made the switch to online remote education, most of them had little to no digital technologies and associated skills in place. As a result, teachers struggled to keep up the quality of their lessons.

Nevertheless, the Ofsted report found that “three-fifths of the teachers responding were quite confident that they were providing a high-quality education through their school’s remote education solution when this was needed.  In addition, just over half were confident their solution was sustainable for the future” (figure 1).

Figure 1: Teachers’ responses to the question ‘How confident are you that your remote education solution is of high quality?’ (in percentages)

 

2. Focus on pedagogy, keep the technology simple

Around one third of teachers who took part in the questionnaire didn’t feel confident about teaching effectively through a remote solution (figure 2). 

Figure 2: Teacher responses to the question ‘How confident are you in teaching through remote methods effectively?’ (in percentages)

The report notes that an effective solution, which teachers will feel confident using, needs to be simple and focus on pedagogy not technology. “Some level of adaptation to the remote medium is required, but this should not override principles of delivering effective teaching.”

Online learning platforms such as COOL offer a simple solution to schools and bring everything in one easy place to help teachers do exactly what they do best: to teach. Here’s what teachers who have worked with COOL during remote learning said: 

  • “The system offered everything we needed to provide quality education to all students. Especially in combination with Classroom.”
  • “COOL worked very well remotely. Students could log in easily at home. There were no disruptions. With COOL they were able to work in the same way as at school.”
  • “Before Corona broke out we had been using Cloudwise for only two weeks. What a gift! I don’t know how else we could have organised distance learning with a not very skilled or enthusiastic team in terms of IT.”

 

3. Monitor students’ learning process from a distance

What is important to keep in mind, as is evidenced by Ofsted, is that learning isn’t fundamentally different when done remotely: “Feedback and assessment are still as important as in the classroom.” The researchers are quick to acknowledge that “[it] can be harder to give immediate feedback to pupils remotely than in the classroom.”

Adequate feedback helps students in their learning in that it keeps them aware of where they stand, where they are headed, and how to close the gap between the two. That means they require guidance from their teacher, who in turn needs to be able to see students’ learning processes, understand their needs and make suggestions that help students stay or get back on track.

COOL Monitoring helps teachers stay in control of their classroom. With live monitoring, teachers are always in the know about what their students are working on and can provide direct guidance in any learning situation. Here’re what teachers said: 

  • “The flexibility with which we work with COOL at school was easy to implement at home. Video calling and chatting were good additions/ways to keep in touch with the children.”
  • “We could not have shaped our home schooling like this without Cloudwise.”

 

4. Focus on maintaining student engagement

Closely tied to the importance of quality feedback is maintaining high student engagement. School principals have previously reported that maintaining student engagement in an online learning environment was their greatest challenge by far. 

The Ofsted data similarly highlights that according to UK parents, it wasn’t so much technical issues or a lack of equipment at home that stood in the way of successful distance learning. It was rather a lack of focus, motivation and contact with the teacher and classmates. 40% of parents responded that their child’s focus on studying was a worry (figure 3).

Figure 3: Parents’ responses to the question ‘What have been the main challenges for your child when learning remotely from home?’ (in percentages)

 

5. Add digital assessment to the mix

Interviews with school leaders from 798 schools in the UK also showed that many schools’ remote learning programs lacked learning assessment. One of the school leaders stated that “Assessment needs to be clear: it’s the bridge between teaching and learning.” And yet it was often seen as “the next priority.”

According to the Ofsted report, this lack of assessment was mainly a result of limitations to observing real-time learning processes. 

Like Monitoring, COOL Exam app offers real-time remote and hybrid learning support when it comes to assessing students. Both Monitoring and Exam app are location independent which means that they support both the classroom environment and home learning environment.

 

6. Capitalize on the benefits of remote education

It’s clear that there’s still much room for improvement when it comes to distance and digital learning. Also clear is that when things go back to normal after the pandemic, blended learning – a mix of face-to-face and remote methods – will remain part of modern pedagogy. 

The Ofsted survey found that most school leaders wish to retain certain aspects of their remote education strategies once they return to in-person teaching. For example:

  • Subject specific and pre-recorded video lessons
  • Improved student support and safeguarding
  • Potential to minimize learning loss (e.g. during extended periods of student absence)
  • Better homework delivery
  • Up-skilling of staff and students
  • Stronger parent involvement and community
  • Fostering student ownership and independence by giving students the means to manage aspects of their own learning

The take-away point here is that digital technology can be especially useful when it complements rather than replaces in-person teaching. In a hybrid learning environment, educational technology can be closely aligned to the desired learning outcomes. It can help teachers give effective feedback and enable adaptive learning paths that motivate students to practise.

For recommendations on using digital technology to improve young students’ learning, we highly recommend this EEF guidance report: Using Digital Technology to Improve Learning. For hands-on ideas and resources to support your hybrid education strategy now, give our free Hybrid education strategies for Educators white paper a read.

 

Conclusion

While Ofsted’s Remote education research shows that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly opened up new perspectives for high-quality education that meets the needs of diverse learners in our digital age.

A year of remote learning has taught us that a good online solution includes both familiar principles of pedagogy as well as regular learning assessment. Whether teaching remotely, in a hybrid environment or in a physical classroom, online learning done right supports a broad and deep curriculum and helps staff and students acquire key 21st century skills. 

 

Are you curious to find out how COOL can support your school with a one-stop remote and hybrid learning solution or 1:1 technology? We’re happy to help you personally. Book a free demo now to learn more.

 

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