The Evidence Institute is exploring the future needs of educators as they adapt to remote learning and the impacts of COVID-19, writes DR RACHEL PERRY.

Almost 1,000 NSW independent school educators have taken part in a survey conducted by The Evidence Institute after the first wave of COVID-induced remote learning.

The AISNSW Remote Learning Survey was designed to better understand the experiences of educators and to identify and design targeted support.

The survey focused on themes including preparedness, areas of support, and the use of platforms and technologies across the independent school sector.

The AISNSW Remote Learning Survey sought examples of high-quality practice to develop as case studies.

The survey also sought examples of high-quality practice from across the sector, which will be the focus of case studies reflecting the diverse experiences of remote learning in independent schools.

Insights shared by educators highlighted the challenges they faced but also the opportunities they are embracing to enhance student learning. Alternative flexible learning approaches to education in Australia were also considered, with the perspectives being drawn on to identify and develop targeted resources and support.

Educators reflected on the design of teaching and learning and what they planned to keep, adapt, discard and create. The survey also sought examples of high-quality practice from across the sector, which will be the focus of case studies reflecting the diverse experiences of remote learning in independent schools.

In its initial analysis of survey findings, The Evidence Institute focused on preparedness and support needs to enable AISNSW to respond to teachers' needs.


From the survey results so far, half of all educators felt very or extremely prepared in the design of learning when students were fully, or partly remote. More specifically, they felt most prepared to design and deliver learning for students to complete work at their own pace using technology with around two-thirds indicating they felt very or extremely prepared.

Three areas in which educators felt least prepared related to the design and delivery of:

  • blended learning opportunities
  • face to face learning when some students were still remote
  • learning opportunities for students to complete at their own pace without using technology.

Access to technology and the associated impacts on learning and wellbeing for students and staff were acknowledged as being challenging. The wide variation in technological skill levels of both staff and students was an issue of note.

Better digital pedagogy resources will be an outcome of the AISNSW Remote Learning Survey.

Support needs

Educators indicated they needed to develop a deeper understanding of digital pedagogy and its role in learning design. Five key areas for further support have been identified from the survey data:

  • support for personal and student wellbeing
  • designing for remote learning when students do not have access to the internet
  • designing and assessing for learning through online platforms
  • enabling student agency
  • exploring purpose and flexibility in delivery of learning.

Providing professional support in these areas enabled a continuous approach to teaching and learning, resulting in less impact if students or staff need to return to remote learning for short or long periods in the future.

Future support

The insights from the AISNSW Remote Learning Survey forms part of a broader research partnership between The Evidence Institute and the Australian Council for Educational Research.

The Remote Learning: Rapid Literature Review identifies effective practice in remote learning and synthesises key evidence relevant to the COVID-19 disruption.

Key areas covered in the literature review include:

  • quality teaching and learning in blended, distance or remote learning design
  • the role of technology in education
  • the role of parents and families in remote learning
  • pedagogical models for remote learning
  • impacts and implications for education in emergencies.

AISNSW 2020 Digital Masterclass Series

In response to the key insights and areas of need identified in the Remote Learning Survey, AISNSW is hosting the 2020 Digital Masterclass Series. A practitioner-focused event, participants will engage in live and pre-recorded sessions on topics including learning design with and without technologies, supporting personal wellbeing and assessment in remote learning environments. Register here to receive more information.

Lessons from Lockdown Event Presentation

The Evidence Institute has been invited to share insights from the Remote Learning Survey at the Lessons from Lockdown virtual conference on Monday, 14 September at 1pm. Register for the event using the code AISNSW10 to receive a 10 per cent savings on the entry fee. All net proceeds go to supporting the mental health of Australians.

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