The Learning Accelerator Blog/Three Steps to Building an Effective Remote Learning Experience

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Three Steps to Building an Effective Remote Learning Experience

by Juliana Finegan on October 2 2020

Education is more than content. It is a place for support and connection, so let’s do it right!

As of March 2020, a lot of life as we knew it changed. As school buildings closed and moved to remote forms of engagement and instruction, the pain of this shift was acutely felt by teachers, students, leaders, and families alike. Education has been deeply impacted by the pandemic not only because of the lack of in-person instruction, but because for many, schools have been a place of safety, learning, and relationships.

As we move forward with the new school year, and with many schools remaining in full-time remote or hybrid learning models, figuring out how to enact and improve remote teaching and learning remains a critical lever to ensure equitable outcomes for every child in the country. Getting remote instruction right is also a key step towards re-establishing relationships and a feeling of normalcy, which is something we all need. It’s imperative that we improve quality quickly to ensure student experiences are effective, connected, and supported.

Based on our work focused on blended and personalized learning prior to COVID-19, as well as work with hundreds of districts and thousands of leaders over the last six months, TLA has put together a three-step series of user guides for educators focused on driving quality in remote learning, in order to both address this critical need and ensure all students are receiving effective remote instruction.

The new Problem of Practice series is aimed at helping teachers understand and implement three steps in daily instruction to create more engaging, effective, and equitable experiences for their remote learners.

  • Step 1 - Set Up Foundational Supports: Creating a strong foundation for success with three key supports: helping students become self-directed learners, engaging families and guardians as partners, and offering more comprehensive, whole-child support.
  • Step 2 - Leverage Research-Informed Design Factors: Reflecting on current remote instruction with the understanding of research-based factors (technology, pedagogy, and relationships) is key to building instructional practices that not only engage learners but impact learning outcomes.
  • Step 3 - Integrate Powerful Ongoing Instructional Strategies: Designing instruction that leverages varied modalities and enables effective use of data, personalization, and mastery-based learning in a remote learning environment is key to implementing powerful instructional practices.

This series is not just a curated list of resources — it is a research-informed framework to help teachers understand and drive towards quality. Each step in the series has a specific role in the process and builds in a sequential order. However, if you have already begun to work in some of these areas, you can use the framework to assess your current state and find the resources that best meet your needs.

It is important to note that these guides were designed to be educator-facing; however, leaders can also use them to better align their own school’s vision and understanding of effective remote teaching and learning. With that in mind, each step in the series begins with an introduction of the problem and solution (backed by research) and then moves through the key steps needed to implement each. All steps include resources, strategies, and concrete ways to move from theory to practice. Each also includes a way to take it further either through a slidedeck to train others, deeper research, or additional focused playlists around the key components of each step.

We’ve also launched a new remote learning resource page that offers four important supports for educators and school and system leaders. Building off of an overarching, research-informed framework for high-quality remote instruction, we’ve developed a series of free and open tools to help teams assess and improve teaching and learning practices, train staff on new ideas, and establish conditions for successful implementation.

At TLA, we truly believe the knowledge to improve learning (particularly in this moment) needs to be owned by and accessible to anyone, anywhere — which is why everything we do is free and open for anyone to use, share, and adapt. We hope this toolkit supports you as you take your existing effective pedagogical approaches, your “secret sauce” of teaching, love for your students, and put them together in a research-based way leveraging a variety of remote modalities so that the experience is better for you and your students.

We can do this! I don’t know about you, but I sometimes need to hear that.

If you have any questions, feedback, concerns, etc., please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].

About the Author

Juilana Finegan is a Managing Partner at The Learning Accelerator, leading their practitioner learning work. As an expert in blended and personalized learning and Title 1 educator for almost a decade, Juliana specializes in adult learning, designing tangible resources for practitioners, and engaging partnerships and networks to build strategic support throughout the ecosystem.