Challenges of Remote Learning
Read Time: 7 minutes, 30 seconds
Posted on Sat, Apr 04 2020
A good number of schools are now considering remote learning (distance learning or distance education) all around the world as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. It is important to note that alongside the opportunities remote learning (distance learning) offers students and teachers there are real challenges associated with it.
In this article, we’ll breakdown some of the challenges of remote learning faced by students and teachers, and explore recommendations that can help create an environment conducive for impactful teaching and meaningful learning.
Challenges of Remote Learning.
Remote learning does have some inherent problems, especially in the areas of isolation, support, technology and discipline. Here are some common challenges and problems with remote learning.
- Issue with technology:
Modern distance learning relies heavily on technology and the internet. It is important to note that, not all students and teachers has access to a desktop computer, PC, laptops, smart phones and internet access. Also, there is the issue of slow internet connection, which can be frustrating. In addition, some students and teachers lack basic computing skills. Gaining access to the internet is still expensive in some part of the world and not all students and teachers might be able to afford it.
- Work overload:
The work load can be overwhelming for teachers, because of the amount of engagement and flexibility required from them. In order to meet up with deadline and schedule, teachers might end up giving overwhelming assignments to the students, sharing complicated and unstructured learning resources and course materials, not relevant to their subject/course. Also teaching online can be time consuming, and can seem like conducting multiple online tutorial at the same time, when dealing with a large population of students.
- Support Issues:
Students may feel isolated, and miss out the interaction they enjoy in the traditional classroom environment. Also, not making available additional resources that can aid students learning and better understanding of concepts, can hinder progressive learning, and make students feel lost. Lag in communication between teachers and students might result in little or no support at all.
- Engagement issues:
Students and teachers might not be able to engage online as a result of poor internet connectivity. It might take a longer time for teachers to establish rapport with students online, than in traditional face-to-face classroom. Teachers might have to deal with students unwilling to participate in assigned activities, and turning in assignment late. It is a lot of work engaging elementary, middle school and special needs students. Lack of commitment on the part of the teacher can also result in little or no engagement with students.
Recommendations for impactful teaching and meaningful learning.
Outlined below are recommendations, that can help the teacher deliver an impactful lesson, and help the students achieve meaningful learning.
- Prepare each lesson with a goal in mind:
It is important that the teacher have a learning goal for each lesson. The goal set should be clear and specific. Activities and engagement should be structured in a way that would help achieve the goal of the lesson. Delivering a lesson without a specific and clear goal in mind would end up being a waste of time and resource.
- Be organized:
Ensuring a well-organized and clearly outlined course content plays an important role in lesson delivery, impacts teaching. It saves the teacher time in explaining concepts, and helps the student easily work through the lesson. Also, the teacher should make sure, that the content of the lesson to be delivered is relevant to the students’ local scenario. (i.e. it should be what they can relate with.)
- Be flexible with lesson delivery.
Not all lessons have to be synchronous (i.e. a live class session either by web conferencing or live streaming). Some lessons can be pre-recorded and uploaded for the student to access. A suggestion would be to make pre-recorded videos into series with moderate time duration. Each series explaining a topic or concept. Relevant course contents, extra resources, text books, videos and articles that are useful, and thought provoking can be shared with the students beforehand, for them to engage with. After which, a live session can be scheduled for the students to ask questions, and for the teacher to explain misconceptions, and engage in face-to-face discussions. The teacher can also divide students in groups and schedule a live meeting for delivery of lesson. Also, individual live sessions can also be used to deliver lesson to students with special needs.
Furthermore, meetings via web conferencing, conference call, video call, live streaming can be used to brief the students on what is expected of them during the course of the lesson, and introduce series of topics to be treated. This would help prepare the mind of the students for what is to come.
- Be flexible with providing support:
Consistent support of students, can make the difference between success and failure of remote learning. The teacher can use discussion forum to engage with students; by asking questions, responding to their questions, and sharing relevant resources to a question asked. Also, it is important that the teacher encourage interaction with fellow students as part of the lesson activity. Teachers can also reach out to students to check on them and their progress on a given task (project, assignment, etc.).
Support might also include the teacher going extra mile to conduct one-on-one or small group live session (via web conferencing). Though it should not be an expectation placed on the teacher.
- Avoid content/activity overload:
An effective distance learning should have short activities and micro-task to enhance motivation. The teacher should not bombard students with overwhelming tasks (assignments, projects etc.). When a task becomes overwhelming for students it might result into loss on interest and a decline in students’ engagement which defeats the purpose of remote learning. Also, the teacher should be creative with their lessons and instructional resources to make learning interesting.
- Provide incentives to increase engagement:
The teacher can require attendance during a web-conferencing class. This would encourage students to come online and stay connected synchronously while asynchronous interactions on the discussion groups might be going on. Also, the teacher can associate points for completion of a given task (e.g. assignment) or submission of an assignment early. This can be linked with their continuous assessment.
It is important for teachers to figure out a system that works for them, and the use of web-conferencing tools to deliver face-to-face lessons should be systematic. Also, it is important for teachers to be proactive, and keep the issues of motivation and engagement front and center at all times. It would be very unreasonable to expect a smooth ride on the first attempt of delivering a lesson remotely. However, with time both the teacher and students would adjust and begin to appreciate the benefit of remote learning.
To make remote learning a success, a school would need a learning management system to house all resources that would be shared by teachers, for easy and quick access by the students, and keep track of student learning progress and engagement. PRODIGY SCHOOL SOFTWARE, makes it easy for schools to setup remote learning. To learn more, contact PRODIGY SCHOOL SOLUTION.