Remote learning is enabling education from distance made possible by means of electric modes of education.
The success of this model depends on the supportive infrastructure that plays a crucial role in making it efficient. The strength and weaknesses of this model lie in how good the infrastructure around it is. This is because, if all gears in the machine are not working properly and efficiently, it will directly affect the learning process.
To put it simply, it is when students and educators are not physically present in a traditional classroom environment and the instruction is communicated through technology tools. It almost seems like creating an in-person classroom experience for both the students and the teachers over the internet. There are plenty of tools that are used to make it happen. Some of the common tools that are usually used are discussion boards, video conferences, virtual assessments, and more. A lot of educators like to use dedicated platforms that cater to all the tech needs of remote learning. They come with pre-installed tools and have an everything-in-place interface that makes the process smooth and quick.
Remote learning is often confused with online learning. Though, the two share a lot of similarities; the difference lies in the purpose and reasons behind the adoption of it. While online learning deals with the incorporation of technology to make education prosper and efficient the latter deals with making it available and accessible to learners in times of need irrespective of the infrastructure in place. It is typically used during scheduling conflicts, illnesses, or, like today, disasters. This also implies that it could bring newness to both educators and students. With the present COVID crisis going on, institutions have understood the importance of having the proper infrastructure in place and be prepared to face difficult situations without having to compromise on the education needs of the students.
In an article on Remote Learning, Dr. Kecia Ray, founder of K20 Connect mentions, “Remote learning is something a district should be able to switch off and on based on need; however, the efficiency of transitioning to remote learning is dependent on preparedness, technology tools, or overall student support infrastructure. It is different from virtual school or virtual learning programs that typically have gone through an official process of establishing a school, adopting an online curriculum, and creating a dedicated structure to support students enrolled in the school. eLearning utilizes electronic technologies to access educational curriculum outside of the traditional classroom.”
The shock of the COVID-19 crisis on education has been disturbing. It has brought forward the need and urgency of changing the way we have been delivering education and be prepared for such calamities without having to compromise on the fundamental right of education.
UNESCO’s report on “Policy Brief on Education during COVID-19 and Beyond” shares the global status of how education has been affected, what policies came into effect, what more is needed, and a lot more.
Key Excerpts from the report are as follows:
“Ensuring learning continuity during the time of school closures became a priority for governments the world over, many of which turned to ICT, requiring teachers to move to online delivery of lessons. Countries report that some modalities have been used more than others, depending on education level, traditional distance learning modalities, often a mix of educational television and radio programming, and the distribution of print materials. Relatively few countries are monitoring the effective reach and use of distance learning modalities. However, estimates indicate variable coverage: distance learning in high-income countries covers about 80–85 percent, while this drops to less than 50 percent in low-income countries. This shortfall can largely be attributed to the digital divide, with the disadvantaged having limited access to basic household services such as electricity; a lack of technology infrastructure; and low levels of digital literacy among students, parents, and teachers.”
“Innovative continuous assessment with variability across regions. School closures have necessitated changes in – and in some cases caused serious disruptions to – how students are evaluated. In most countries, exams have been postponed or canceled; and, in others, they have been replaced by continuous assessments or alternative modalities, such as online testing for final exams. Student progress can be monitored with mobile phone surveys, tracking usage and performance statistics from learning platforms and apps, and implementing rapid learning assessments to identify learning gaps.”
They further add, “Every solution has its own challenge, notably in terms of equity. For certain sectors, distance learning came with distinct challenges. Sustainable solutions should build upon experiences with the widespread use of technology to ensure learning continuity during the pandemic, including for the most marginalized.”
You can check out the complete report from here.
UNESCO has also published this list of educational applications, platforms and resources that aims to help parents, teachers, schools and school administrators facilitate student learning and provide social care and interaction during periods of school closure we have faced globally during the ongoing pandemic.