It’s unsurprising that adapting to online teaching came with its own set of challenges. Besides the technological hurdles, teaching and learning often takes place asynchronously, teachers don’t immediately see the reactions of their students and communication has to go through new and different channels. Even well-established classroom strategies don’t work in the same way anymore and need to be reconsidered under the implications of distance.
To ensure a continued high-quality education for pupils, we’ve launched one-of-a-kind online CPD events for teachers; bringing together educators from all around the country and inspiring meaningful conversations about some of the most important teaching strategies in the context of distance learning. Something which really sets this apart from other distance learning offerings is that we recognise that developing knowledge is only part of the process. If teachers are to make impactful changes to their practice the learning must be followed up with teacher practice, reflection and collaboration to develop and sustain the skill. For this reason we have also made available the full suite of IRIS Connect video tools for free. Teachers can now, at the click of a button, capture teaching and learning on video to reflect on, analyse and share with colleagues.
Experience high-impact CPD this summer term. Sign up to one, or all of the following interactive and collaborative distance learning webinars and get free access to the IRIS Connect platform for you or your school.
1. Dialogue and Oracy
It's vital that learners have the oracy and communicative skills required to discuss learning with their peers, and respond to questioning and assessment, all of which gives teachers an opportunity to discover where best to focus on that learner's development.
However, this doesn’t come naturally to children, who are not usually required to provide reasons, build on the ideas of others or argue their case in everyday life. If we are to develop a ‘dialogic classroom’, we need our children to talk productively together when they are in pairs or groups. This means employing modelling, but it also means actively teaching learners to use educated, exploratory talk (Mercer, 2000), which can be characterised as talk in which we can hear questions, reasons and discussion being used as a tool for thinking together.
Therefore, the teacher’s construction of dialogic interactions in whole class settings can model the expected interactions between pupils when they work together in groups.
With teachers and pupils now working together over distance, this becomes even more challenging. How can we continue to develop learners' oracy and communicative skills? Do you consider your learners to currently have sufficient opportunities to engage in dialogue with peers?
Find out by joining our distance learning webinar on dialogue and oracy and discussing with fellow educators from around the country.
2. Instruction and practice
Understanding and correctly applying instruction is fundamental to effective teaching. Too much information can lead to cognitive overload.
The way we present new information can reduce cognitive load and increase learning, helping pupils retain information. For example, dual coding is the process of combining verbal materials with visual materials. There are many ways to visually represent material, such as with infographics, timelines, cartoon strips, diagrams, and graphic organizers. When you have the same information in two formats - words and visuals - it gives you two ways of remembering the information later on and has a smaller impact upon cognitive load.
Cognitive overload can lead to pupils becoming disengaged with the learning. This is much harder to manage in an online context as the non-verbal cues you would receive in the classroom become harder to spot. That being said, there are some great online tools to manage cognitive load.
Learn more about these tools as well as practical strategies for instruction and practice with our online distance learning webinar.
Teachers use hundreds of questions every day so it's important to use them with purpose. From a pedagogical point of view they serve two crucial roles:
- To check for understanding i.e. to identify misconceptions and provide corrective feedback.
- To develop metacognition and self regulation, that is, to help students develop a better understanding of themselves and their progress and to make deeper connections within the content.
It’s important to strike the right balance between the two and to use them strategically and at the right time within the learning process. The outcome of a good question, whatever its purpose, is that it causes thinking.
Improving your questioning technique can help develop a positive learning culture in your teaching - both in the classroom and through synchronous online activities such as video-conferencing - by encouraging more in-depth exploratory dialogue.
What types of questions should I consider using? How can I support learners with higher order questioning? How can I focus on the importance of questioning in distance learning?
Answer these questions and delve deeper into the varied possibilities that distance learning can provide for both you and your learners with our distance learning webinar.
4. Assessment and Feedback
Formative Assessment, along with effective feedback, is one of the most impactful parts of teaching and when it is done well can foster significant improvement.
A key part of assessment is providing pupils with rubrics to assess both their own work, and also that of their peers. With pupils now socially distanced, and perhaps also working asynchronously, ensuring that peer-evaluation remains a focus will be a challenge facing many educators, meaning it is paramount that teachers have visibility over the work that learners complete.
Then providing these learners with information that allows them to reduce the gap between what is evident currently and what could or should be the case is the important role of feedback.
It’s been shown that the focus of feedback and the form it takes, can have a significant impact on learning outcomes. Crucially, this impact can be either positive or negative i.e poor feedback harms learning.
Under the implications of distance, how can we adapt feedback to ensure it drives procedural fluency as well as self-regulation in learners?
Find out by joining our distance learning webinar on assessment and feedback and discussing with fellow educators from around the country.
Read more about IRIS Connect's impact on the EdTech Impact platform: https://www.edtechimpact.com/products/iris-connect/