Director of Education, BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT
Teachers and students have risen to the challenges of remote delivery, now the focus should be on engagement and addressing the ‘digital divide’.
Home learning has now been in place for almost a year and during that time we’ve seen a change in the way remote lessons are accessed. Schools have reviewed their approach with many secondary and further education settings now significantly shifting to timetabled live lessons.
Ofsted has recognised that it is “harder to engage and motivate pupils remotely” and that feeling part of the school community is key to engagement.
Technology can be used to not only deliver content but to support engagement. Projects and challenges can build community – getting physical, being creative or nurturing wellbeing can be amplified with technology, such as tracking exercise on an app, sharing a social group or joining an online session together.
A blended approach
Schools are thinking about a blended approach and the key is to make the time spent online really impactful. Precious live interaction should focus on tutoring and giving feedback. Time away from the screen can be used to embed learning.
2% of households with school age children are not online, and around one million learners rely on a mobile phone to access the internet.
Teachers are the experts in their subjects and in how to teach them in the classroom, but they may need support to translate that knowledge for remote and blended delivery.
Sharing good practice
Many schools and teachers have shown great innovation, now is the time to share good practice in professional networks and shape a strategic approach to remote teaching.
But the effectiveness of remote teaching is not only about teaching. Access to connectivity and a suitable device is vital.
Office for National Statistics and Ofcom estimate that 2% of households with school age children are not online, and around one million learners rely on a mobile phone to access the internet.
Digital access is vital
Lack of access, including a lack of digital competence to use technology, widens inequality. Finding ways of maintaining engagement over the long term and addressing digital access is a challenge. This has been recognised by initiatives from industry, the media, and charities, as well as the Department for Education’s £400 million investment, to support access to remote education and online social care by securing laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people.
If COVID-19 has shown how much can be delivered quickly in extraordinary circumstances, then we can be positive about the future and opportunities to really shift the emphasis to use technology to enhance teaching and learning.