In order to help schools better support teaching pupils remotely, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has provided some much-needed resources designed for education leaders.
One rapid evidence assessment in particular examines existing research from 60 systematic reviews and meta-analyses for approaches that schools could use, or are already using, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When implementing strategies to support both pupils and parents with remote learning, the EEF came to the following conclusions.
Teaching quality is more important than how lessons are delivered
The most important thing here is making sure that the elements of effective teaching are present. For example, having clear explanations and providing feedback regardless of how it’s delivered to pupils.
Teachers may explain a new idea to students in real time or via a pre-recorded video, but what matters most is whether the explanation clearly builds on pupils’ prior learning or how pupils’ understanding is subsequently assessed.
Ensuring access to technology is key, especially for disadvantaged pupils
Nearly every aspect of remote learning requires digital technology, with both computers and internet connectivity taking precedence. Therefore, it’s no surprise that a lack of technology is considered a key barrier to successful remote instruction.
Not only must support be provided to ensure that disadvantaged pupils have access to technology, teachers and pupils should also be receiving guidance on how to use specific digital platforms and processes.
Peer interactions can provide motivation and improve learning outcomes
During remote learning, peer interaction is a fantastic way to motivate pupils and improve interactions. Strategies to support this include peer marking and feedback, sharing models of good work, and opportunities for live discussions of content.
Although the value of collaborative approaches can also be high, this tends to be the case with older learners. As a result, different approaches to peer interactions are likely to be better suited to different age groups.
Supporting pupils to work independently can improve learning outcomes
A lot of value can also be placed on strategies that help pupils work independently while remote learning. For instance, prompting pupils to reflect on their work or to consider the strategies they will use if they get stuck have been highlighted as valuable.
When you take into account wider evidence relating to metacognition and self-regulation, disadvantaged students in particular are likely to benefit from support to help them work independently.
Different approaches to remote learning suit different types of content and pupils
Seeing as approaches to remote learning vary greatly, teachers should be supported to consider ways that would best suit the learning content in front of them and the age of their pupils.
To give an example, gamification is especially effective for vocabulary learning with foreign languages. Technology can also support retrieval practice, while self-quizzing has the potential to help pupils retain key ideas and knowledge.
But despite its recommendations, the EEF says that evidence in this review is drawn from diverse contexts that do not closely parallel the circumstances facing schools responding to Covid-19 in 2020.