Depute Rector for Curriculum Colin Bagnall writes about the online learning provision at Hutchesons’ and the theory which supports the school’s pedagogy. It refers to this research on remote learning by the Education Endowment Foundation.
“Even with the comforting familiar furniture of desks, chairs and a whiteboard It was difficult enough for those non-teachers whose experience of school was in the early part of this century, or in some part of the last, to picture quite what teaching involves in 2020.
Now those physical signifiers are temporarily removed it can be even harder to imagine. However, the fundamentals of great teaching are not attached to physical objects such as tables and chairs or even to perhaps to classrooms.
I was reminded of this once again by Educationalist Paul Kirschner who recently shared his ‘ten tips for emergency remote teaching’ on the ‘ResearchED’ Website. In advising teachers to avoid being distracted by technology for the sake of technology, but, to ‘stick to the essentials’ of well evidenced pedagogy, he emphasised that it is more important than ever to ‘keep it short’.
Good learning may not look quite the same in every setting, but it does feature a clear explanation of expectations, providing exemplification where appropriate, reinforcing existing knowledge, then gives pupils the space to actively process what they are learning before the submission of a short piece of work for feedback.
This advice from Kirschner resonates particularly as our experienced teachers have together been reflecting on what our pupils have said about and what teachers’ experiences have been of, distance learning.
In a short period of time, they have developed their own and their colleagues’ practices accordingly. There has been greater use of short video and audio presentations to support the outline of aims, explanation and exemplification of concepts, skills and new knowledge and to provide feedback.
There has been an emphasis on variety in delivery and in feedback as well as space and flexibility for pupils to consolidate their learning in the very different environments in which they are now learning. We have delivered that through our foundational Virtual Platform, Firefly.
We have recognised that an element of teaching and learning that we would like to do more of is the peer interaction that is a valuable part of the physical school experience. We have now rolled out the framework for the good practice in this area that several of our departments have displayed using Microsoft Teams.
The Education Endowment foundation’s research into ‘the best evidence on supporting students to learn remotely’ concluded that ‘Teaching quality is more important than how lessons are delivered’ and that ‘Different approaches to remote learning suit different types of content and pupils’.
It is gratifying that research seems to support the approach that we have taken to educating our pupils. However, we do recognise that the flexibility and variety that good teaching demands does not necessarily guarantee an easy experience at home particularly in the current difficult circumstances.”