Lockdown shows digital learning can complement in-person teaching
When COVID-19 schools closed worldwide in 2020, the way teachers taught and students did their work in the classroom changed overnight. As a Boston high school student wrote in a recent case study, “bedrooms turned into classrooms, living rooms turned into science labs, and backyards turned into training rooms.”
Two years later, this move to from a distance and then, hybrid learning presented many challenges. He caused stress and confusion for both teachers and students. But it also brought surprising benefits.
A recent report bringing together the results of 81 secondary school studies from 38 countries highlighted how complementary these digital learning methods can be compared to traditional methods of schooling. Students have found it beneficial to work at their own pace and without the social pressures of the classroom. Even as we face the prospect of continuous disturbance in 2022, these are reasons for hope.
During the pandemic, many schools have had to make greater use of learning management systems and applications, in order to improve communication between school and home. It may seem obvious, but having to work remotely has encouraged teachers and students to revisit and enrich their digital skills. It stimulated innovation and creative thinking, and challenged students to develop skills in the effective use of several digital tools and resources for learning, such as those reported in a american study.
Many students have shown an increased ability to study and solve problems independently. Teachers in hong kong reported that the students had developed problem-solving methods that their professors had not taught them.
Of the 2,824 secondary school students who responded to a survey in Slovakia, meanwhile, most said they found self-paced learning invaluable. The ability to review instructional videos helped them better understand their subjects and maintain a connection with their teachers.
In England, Sweden and the United States, several students who, before the pandemic, were reluctant attend classes or go to class at all, said they were more involved and engaged in their schoolwork during the lockdown because they felt less social pressure. Instrumental music students Australia also showed improvement in their social skills, including communication, negotiation and active listening.
Students in Austria, the United States and Portugal have also benefited from interacting with their peers – distance learning has given them new methods of collaboration, including the development Interactive ePortfolios, using Discussion boards share ideas and complete schoolwork with peers, as well as collaborate on authentic tasks such as co-create digital posters and videos and distributing them via social media. One american study reported that using the chat feature in Google Meet during live classes, combined with editing work and writing comments in Google Docs, was particularly helpful for students to collaborate and stay in touch with their peers.
Communication and evaluation
For some countries, the shift to online assessment, having previously adopted a culture based on highly standardized tests, was quite difficult, as this now requires alternative evaluation methods that could also guarantee reliable results. While some countries have banned assessment during lockdown, our review also found the opposite: no less than 21 online assessment strategies were identified. Thus, having to rely heavily on technology during lockdown has opened up creative new ways of designing and delivering assessment.
The two most commonly used strategies were formative assessment and online quizzes, identified in 16% of the studies we reviewed. While formative assessment has previously proven stimulate student learning, the two strategies were used for different reasons.
The formative assessment, often conducted in real time, was supported by videoconferencing tools. It enabled teachers to see and hear their students, which supported spoken literature assessment and language assessment, including role-playing, online debates, and drama performances. Teachers also reported that this real-time interaction fostered a sense of social presence, which is important for student well-being.
Online quizzes, meanwhile, allowed students to check their comprehension at their own pace, which helped, as reported by a indonesian study 10th graders, to ward off bordeom. Being self-correcting, the questionnaires also helped to reduce teachers’ workload. Finally, this type of numerical assessment was also easily shared among teachers, promoting equality and reusability.
Parent Engagement and Student Learning
Some parents reported improved digital skills as a result of the pandemic. But the main lesson has been the increased impulse for parents to become more involved in their children’s learning.
Search in Nigeria found that giving parents greater access to what their children were learning helped improve student engagement in learning online. In Vietnam, involving parents in this way has been found to make the whole process more efficient.
The ability to access teacher meetings virtually has also reduced social barriers for some families. A survey conducted by ParentPing in December 2020, found that parents and teachers wanted to keep Parents’ Nights virtual, or at least have the option to do so.
The school, more broadly, can and must become more flexible. Ensuring this is the case will encourage inclusion and accessibility. It will support lifelong learning.
Nina Bergdahl, Associate Researcher, Department of Computer Science and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University and Melissa Bond, Lecturer (Digital Technology Education), Education Futures, University of South Australia