What Does The Research Suggest Is Best Practice In Pedagogy For Remote Teaching?

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to education systems all over the world. As remote schooling becomes the predominant model for education delivery in this crisis, teachers and education system leaders need to adapt to ensure the best outcomes for pupils by distance learning. This report provides a rapid evidence summary of best practice in teaching when students are educated by distance learning.

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to education systems all over the world. As schools have closed in an effort to limit the spread of the virus, remote schooling has become the predominant model for education delivery. In this context, teachers and education system leaders must adapt their methods and pedagogy quickly to ensure the best outcomes for pupils by distance learning. This report provides a rapid evidence summary of best practice in teaching when students are educated by remote learning.

It was produced at great speed in response to the emerging Covid-19 crisis, commissioned by the Ed Tech Hub with the UK Department for Education and the Department for International Development, and is available to read in full here. Along with its sister report, which considers what is working in country-level policy responses, it forms part of Ed Tech Hub’s coronavirus resources.

“Even in these early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, when information on its wider impact remains limited, we are delighted to be contributing in a positive way to the knowledge base on remote teaching and learning, and thereby helping to ensure that learners are able to continue to learn in these new and challenging circumstances.”
Anna Riggall, Head of Research

In this report, our team set out to find out what is already known about effective remote teaching, based the best available evidence. It considers both theoretical concepts and empirical evidence on the effectiveness of teaching methods in a distance learning context, including evidence from ‘grey literature’ on pedagogy which has been produced in response to the current crisis. In this unprecedented situation, there are inevitable limitations in the nature of the evidence base, but our team has been able to identify several key themes and recommendations for best practice.

  1. The general principles of effective pedagogy remain valid, but remote learning presents additional challenges. To provide effective remote teaching, teachers must be able to plan and teach well-structured lessons, adapt their methods where appropriate to meet individual needs, and make accurate, productive use of assessment, as they would in face-to-face teaching. However, remote teaching will require increased adaptability and pedagogical performance is more likely to be impacted by the level of the teacher’s digital skills.
  2. ‘Teaching presence’ is hugely significant in remote learning. Teachers can make students aware of their presence through different forms of dialogue, activities and assessments, whether this is online or through centralised radio or TV broadcasting.
  3. Teaching engagement with vulnerable and disadvantaged students should be a key priority. The challenges of remote learning will be greater for vulnerable or disadvantaged students, who are most at risk of disrupted learning continuity and of other potential harms while out of school. Regular teacher engagement and contact with these students will therefore be critically important.
  4. Effective remote pedagogy needs to encourage cognitive engagement. Effective remote teaching is neither teacher-led nor student-directed. Teaching activities – regardless of medium – should be intended to maximise students’ engagement and promote metacognitive strategies.
  5. Governments can assist in the curation of learning resources. The creation of new remote learning resources will be a significant burden for teachers, making centralised guidance and open educational resources be hugely valuable.
  6. Technology can drive student engagement in the immediate term and enhance pedagogy in the longer term. Remote teaching activities can be enhanced with the use of both online learning and offline media such as TV and radio broadcasting. Where good online infrastructure exists, school closures provide an opportunity for reflection on how technology can be used to enrich teaching and learning – both in this crisis and beyond.

To read the report and recommendations in full, please visit the EdTech Hub website or click download below.

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