In part 2 of the Remote Learning Survey series, DR RACHEL PERRY discusses how educators upskilled in digital learning, developed greater collegiality and experienced greater professional respect.
Earlier this year, The Evidence Institute conducted the AISNSW Remote Learning Survey. The survey sought to capture the opinions and experiences of independent school educators in relation to remote teaching during the initial stages of the pandemic. With almost 1,000 responses, the data provided The Evidence Institute with insights into areas such as preparedness, practice change, areas of support, and the use of platforms and technologies.
This second article explores The Evidence Institute’s analysis of positive outcomes, the way educators plan to adapt approaches to learning design, and what they seek to create to enhance student learning. Part 1 of this series explored initial insights, revealing challenges and opportunities arising from the COVID-19 disruption as educators focused on maintaining and enhancing student learning.
Teachers increased digital skills related to the enhanced use of platforms and learning management systems.
Increase in digital skills
The most positive outcome observed by educators was the increase in their digital skills. These skills related to the enhanced use of platforms and learning management systems, as well as the inclusion of specific tools for connecting and engaging students in their learning while in remote settings. Educators also built skills in using a range of technologies to enable students to effectively capture and share their learning.
The importance of enhancing digital skills was echoed in the previously reported areas of support where the need for ongoing development was identified. A focus on intentionally designing learning that students complete online, and support for conducting learning using online platforms, were also identified as two key areas of need.
The most positive outcome observed by educators was the increase in their digital skills. These skills related to the enhanced use of platforms and learning management systems, as well as the inclusion of specific tools for connecting and engaging students in their learning while in remote settings.
Another significant positive outcome educators identified was increased teacher collaboration. This included acknowledgment of the way its importance shifted as a result of remote learning priorities across the period of disruption.
“The informal discussions of faculty were so valuable - we have become consumed with making these so formal to meet accreditation purposes, devaluing the general conversation and idea-sharing with no pressure,” (survey respondent).
Educators expressed a desire for the style and degree of collaboration to continue as on-campus learning returned. One educator acknowledged that collaboration “...has been one of the great benefits of this time for us”, with another requesting the creation of enhanced “networks of teachers connected to share knowledge and resources”.
Collegiality and greater professional respect
A greater respect for the teaching profession was the third most positive outcome acknowledged – a finding that has been echoed across broader media and commentary. This was followed by recognition of increased skills in digital pedagogies, acceleration of future-focused changes to how educators teach, and the formation of unexpected connections with other professionals.
Greater respect for the teaching profession was a feeling echoed among respondents.
Educators expressed a desire for the style and degree of collaboration to continue as on-campus learning returned. One educator acknowledged that collaboration “... has been one of the great benefits of this time for us”, with another requesting the creation of enhanced “networks of teachers connected to share knowledge and resources”.
Adapt and Create
Educators were asked to reflect on their experiences during remote learning with a particular focus on what they would adapt and create. Responses fell largely into four key themes below. While a wide range of areas was identified, there was a consistent focus on greater enablement of students, and the various mechanisms that allow that to happen.
Remote Learning Survey Key Themes
The benefits of adopting a blended learning approach were widely recognised, as well as a need for enhanced skills to do so. This included better understanding of platforms and technologies that could be utilised as enabling tools, as well as methods for equal opportunity for those with limited or no access to technologies. Aligned with this was a parallel focus on exploring creative approaches to the way evidence of learning/assessment is gathered, and feedback provided.
Effective differentiation was another area identified across responses with educators acknowledging the need for greater personalisation and flexibility to best meet learner needs. As one respondent shared: “There is no 'one size fits all' so schools need to do a combination of remote and face-to-face moving forward to meet the needs of students.”
The next article in this series will consider the way insights gathered through the survey are informing a reimagining of education.