In a recent post, I have mentioned some of the issues that teachers had to deal with during remote teaching or distance learning…whatever the term we use for that period of time when teaching/learning happened ouside the classroom. However let’s not fall in the trap of depicting a gloomy picture of education during lockdown. Many positive things happened and here’s the happy list !

1.Increased collaboration between teachers

Having been in close contact -well, as much as one can be- with teachers during this strange period, the first testimonials I got have been related to their increase in communication and collaboration with one another. It is common sense. When such an event happens working together is a great solution to share ideas, tips and ressources. I found out that teachers I knew well were eager to talk over the phone or online through videoconferencing. I also had the pleasure to create new links with teachers.  What I realized back then was that there was a huge gap between teachers that already knew how to embedd digital tools in their teaching and those who simply didn’t know but who were eager to learn from their peers. Teachers that were not used to digital teaching have had to learn quick to adapt. From PPT, interactive Multiple Choice Quizzes to full video courses, teachers have battled hard to adapt their teaching to the situation.

2.Greater access to digital training

A good thing about lockdown (if there is) was the possibility for online training. When you don’t have much the choice, you need to find the tools that will help you tackle the issue. That is what teachers did : They adapted their teaching style to the situation ! Many teachers have dramatically enhanced their digital skills during lockdown and many of them are willing to keep using some of these tools on the long-term. Teachers didn’t wait for their schools for training, they took the lead and they should be proud of it. They actively participated to webinars, free online trainings to learn about the tools that would best help them to meet the needs of their learners. They used virtual learning environments provided by their schools, different apps, online resources, videolessons, online assessments softwares and much more to find ways to engage their students.

3.Good impact on active learning and differentiation

For students who do have access to the proper technology (computers, laptops or tablets and the Internet), there is strong evidence that learning online can be more effective in many ways. Some research shows that on average, students’ learning retention rates can be between 25% to 60%  more than with material in a classroom. This is no big surprise because, with e-learning , students can learn at their own pace, rewind and re-read, skip, or accelerate as they wish. Technology when used as a motivational tool by the teacher and as a means towards learning personalization can be very powerful. Not to mention that many teachers told me as well that many of their normally shy students were more active and engaged because peer pressure had been relieved.

4.Improved Digital literacy

Teachers have improved on their technological skills and they have developed some keen interest in tools to develop their students’ motivation and engagement in class. And so have students. This period has also been crucial to diagnose the efficiency of students in terms of IT skills. And unfortunately, despite the fact that they are digital natives, students had to learn the hard way on how to use basic computing skills they didn’t have beforehand. Because many of them are only used to using their smartphones, some didn’t know how to write their email adress by using a computer keyboard. Others didn’t know how to attach documents or change the format of a document. These skills that we have been used to for years as adults were not common practice beforehand for our students.

5.Better communication with parents

Teachers have been the essential communication platform between families and students. They have been providing information, guidelines, tools, advice, feedback on progress through phone calls and emails even during the weekends. Even if the communication may have suffer from some lack of coordination (use of different platforms by different teachers) an important link has been reinstated between parents and teachers.

As a conclusion it is true to say that remote teaching has had an impact on the way we teach and learn but it is too early to say how this impact will be fruiteful in the long-term. What do you think about it? What are the positive aspects you have discovered though distance learning and which aspects were more challenging for you?

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