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Research on Remote Learning

Research on remote education and re-opening

Norwich Research School – ‘eLearning: A Marathon Not A Sprint’ - advice on implementing changes to current system:

  1. Do you need to enhance your e-learning provision, or is what you have already fit for purpose?
  2. Can you take a staged approach to e-learning?
  3. How have you / will you assess staff readiness?
  4. How will you mitigate any growth in the disadvantaged gap during school closures?
  5. How will you ensure that there is appropriate staff training to enable your e-learning approach to be successful?

Essential principles of good curriculum design still apply:

  • Careful sequencing
  • New knowledge integrated into larger concepts and themes
  • Breadth and variety
  • Spaced opportunities to revisit prior content

What is most important for students to learn and remember? Prioritise important concepts where necessary.

Postpone particularly tricky concepts until they can be taught in a classroom

Case study – reduced curriculum for KS3 - two core lessons per week, plus one for each other subject.

Consolidation of prior knowledge to reinforce long-term memory of core knowledge – focus on breadth, teaching new material that revisits known concepts and supports retention and development of schema.

Case study – theme-based project work with KS3, consolidation of GCSE content with year 10 with any new material focussing on very straight-forward concepts/information.

Case study – SSAs supporting teachers to personalise whole class work set to individual SEND students to meet individual need – plan specific adaptations of tasks for key students (especially those who have one-to-one support).

Case study – SENDCO created individual learning packs for IEP students with top-up funding to meet their objectives – physical packs delivered to students’ homes.

Case study (Science) – KS3 projects around a theme for a couple of weeks at a time, y10 consolidation of prior learning, especially areas the students struggle with in class (any new content will be most straightforward topics)

Case study (Geography) – any new content planned to be revisited and reviewed next academic year. Balance between new learning and consolidation is approx. two-to-one (ie, for every 2 hours of new learning, 1 hour of consolidation/review is set). New learning has strong focus on underpinning geographical skills to aid retention. KS3 – work set fortnightly, Y10 – work set weekly from new topic considered to be less challenging and more accessible for home learning interleaved with review/consolidation from prior topics

Case study – continued to deliver curriculum according to curriculum maps with regular reviews of prior learning built in, but more focus on essential knowledge than expecting to ‘cover’ the whole topic. Fundamentals of a good lesson still being followed – revisit prior learning, chunking new knowledge, teacher explanations/modelling, scaffolding, student practice and learning checks. Teacher explanations planned more thoroughly. – Adapting teaching practice for remote education

Accessibility features, especially for SEND students – eg, voice-to-text, text-to-speech, different viewing formats – how can these be communicated and utilised?

Weekly SEND meetings online with SSAs to review the learning of SEND students – each student allocated an SSA to contact weekly/fortnightly to check in and offer support.

Focus on effective teaching practice – identifying and addressing misconceptions in advance, giving more than one explanation/example of a difficult concept, revisiting prior learning, chunking up new knowledge, teacher explanations or modelling, scaffolding, student practice, learning checks.

Monitoring progress – formative assessment and feedback built into lessons through quizzes, digital tools and modelling of good answers.

Case study – dissuaded teachers from using mark scheme language or giving students mark schemes to self-assess as these are ineffective in home learning

Case study – hinge questioning used to monitor student progress and identify misconceptions but feedback (ie, the answers) must be given promptly

Case study – Youtube video every other day from staff – explains a topic to learners, then gets them to pause the video to complete tasks (eg, questions, research, cloze)


EEF – Remote Learning: Rapid Evidence Assessment

Key Findings:

  • Teaching quality is more important than how the lessons are delivered (ie, clear explanations building on students’ prior learning, scaffolding and feedback. No clear difference in the impact of synchronous and asynchronous teaching.)
  • Peer interactions can provide motivation and improve learning outcomes (eg, peer marking and feedback, sharing models of good work and opportunities for live discussion of content. Strongest evidence found in MFL and STEM subjects, especially with peer marking models)
  • Supporting students to work independently can improve learning outcomes (eg, prompting students to reflect on their work, to consider the strategies they will use if they get stuck and to consider how best to organise themselves – links to metacognition – specific studies on metacognitive scaffolding show impact, eg encouraging learners to consider successful strategies for learning)
  • Different approaches to remote learning suit different tasks and types of content.


Chartered College of Teaching – ‘Education in times of crisis: The potential implications of school closures for teachers and students’ report

The impact of school closures on learning

  • Distance learning can be effective if the teaching methods used are of high quality, incorporating features such as clear explanations, scaffolding and feedback.
  • Evidence on distance learning during COVID-19 suggests many students aged between 10 and 19 appear to cope well – students’ capacity to study independently, access online learning and feel socially connected all contribute to a more positive distance learning experience (caveat that some spend less time than normal on schoolwork and some students struggle both academically and socially).
  • Impact of ‘summer learning loss’ likely to be heightened, especially amongst disadvantaged/ those from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
  • Distance learning widens gaps between those from higher and lower socio-economic backgrounds – how to mitigate this?
  • Parent engagement in remote learning likely to be key factor in its effectiveness.

The impact of the wider crisis on students’ wellbeing and learning

  • Cognition, learning and behaviour can all be affected by grief and exposure to traumatic and stressful circumstances
  • Pre-frontal cortex, the most developed part of the brain which is responsible for higher-order thinking and decision making, is the brain region most affected by stress. Stress-related impairments could display as difficulties with impulse control, impaired memory retrieval and difficulties with executive skills such as planning, problem solving and monitoring errors. Research on schools impacted by natural disasters suggests that teenagers’ academic outcomes were affected more than their behaviour.
  • Socio-emotional interventions by staff can be effective, and schools can also play a key role in supporting children who have experienced bereavement and trauma.


The Sutton Trust - COVID-19 and Social Mobility Impact: School Shutdown

  • Disadvantaged students are given additional 1:1 or small group tuition online whilst schools are closed, and face-to-face once they reopen to reduce learning gaps. Also suggests catch-up classes during summer holidays.