Ofsted has published some tips for delivering effective remote learning. The list of tips has been written by Ofsted’s inspectorate research head, Daniel Muijs and draws on findings from interim visits. The tips also aim to debunk certain ‘unhelpful myths’ about what makes for effective remote learning, and sets out some helpful guidance.
What is remote learning?
Remote learning or remote education is a broad term that encompasses learning that happens outside of the classroom where the teacher is not directly present with the students.
So here is our short summary of the tips. The tips below are quoted directly from the ‘What’s working well in remote education’ report from Ofsted, below each tip I have put the advice into my own words adding further ideas and suggestions.
1. Remote education is a way of delivering the curriculum.
The advice states that remote education is a means of delivering the curriculum, and is broadly not different in terms of content. It states that having clarity around curricular goals is still important, and should be made clear to students.
It also says that remote education is not necessarily digital, for certain subjects and content, it may be more effective to deliver the lesson via text books or worksheets.
2. Keep it simple.
The advice says that we don’t need to make significant changes in the way that we teach, and we can use many of the same techniques to improve learning as we would do in the classroom.
It suggests that we think in terms of long term learning outcomes and make sure that students understand what they are moving towards. We could do this by showing students the goal they are working towards, and explaining how the lesson they are doing now helps move them towards that goal.
The advice also makes the point that it may be harder for students to concentrate while taking part in remote learning. So sessions could be divided into smaller chunks, followed by more frequent and regular review of the lessons.
3. When adapting the curriculum, focus on the basics.
The guidance says that when adapting curriculum for remote learning, focus on the most important concepts that students need to know. It also says to ensure that the lesson builds on students prior knowledge and understanding of the subject. The guidance also suggests finding creative ways that students can still do practical work, even from home.
4. Feedback, retrieval practice and assessments are more important than ever.
The guidance states that it may be more challenging to deliver immediate feedback to students through remote learning, but that it is still important.
It suggests the following ways to include immediate feedback through remote learning:
- Chatroom discussions,
- 1-to-1 interaction tools
- Interactive touch-screen questioning in live recorded lessons
- Adaptive learning software
The advice also suggests that students being able to speak to each other and interact can be motivating for students and can improve their learning outcomes. This could be done through video-linking functions or group chat.
It also suggests setting up automatic email check-ins. This could help students feel that they are in regular contact with their teacher.
5. The medium matters (A bit)
The report says that the quality of the teaching is more important than how it is delivered. It states that the medium matters most in terms of how students are accessing digital content. For example, they are able to concentrate more easily if they are using a laptop rather than a phone or tablet.
The advice says that what kind of technology students have access to is an important consideration when delivering lessons digitally. The report makes the point to think carefully about where to host learning content. Hosting videos on YouTube can result in students being distracted by suggested content.
As an alternative, you could try Vimeo, as there is the option of turning off suggested videos.
6. Live lessons aren’t always best.
The advice says that while live lessons may make it easier for teachers to tailor the curriculum to the students more, they are not always the most effective approach to remote learning. It makes the point that integrating interaction in live lessons can be challenging, and that pre-recorded sessions followed by a later review of the content can be more effective.
The report says that ‘Using recorded lessons produced externally can allow you to easily draw on high-quality lessons taught by expert subject teachers.’
7. Engagement matters but it’s only the start.
The advice suggests working alongside parents in order to manage the challenges of remote learning. It also suggests the idea of building rewards into remote learning, to make the experience more ‘game like’ for students.
The advice acknowledges that students need to be engaged with the learning, but ensuring effective follow up and review is also important. The advice ends with mentioning that newsletters and whole school digital assemblies, can increase a sense of belonging and help them to feel part of a community.
To help schools deliver remote learning on internet safety, we have created two high quality pre-recorded ‘Press & Play Lessons. These interactive and engaging lessons are delivered by an internet safety expert and they include performances from actors, animations and engaging audio/visuals.
These online lessons are completely flexible giving teachers full control of when, where and how the lessons are accessed. The lessons can be streamed via Zoom or Microsoft Teams or they can easily be sent home for parents to use with their students. You can watch the lessons in action here.
- Ofsted, ‘What’s working well in remote education’ 11/01/21, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/whats-working-well-in-remote-education/whats-working-well-in-remote-education