Remote Learning Can Work, We’re Just Doing it Wrong

Hands pointing at a laptop computer; photo credit John Schnobrich, Accessed on Unsplash.com 2/22/21

A consensus seems to be emerging around distance learning: it’s not working. Students are disengaged and distracted when trying to learn from a computer. Test scores are dropping. Students are falling behind and won’t be prepared for end of year exams. Mental health is deteriorating. This big experiment in virtual learning has failed.

The critics aren’t wrong. Many students and families are frustrated by the new normal. As a teacher, I was frustrated too — my teaching wasn’t as sharp, my students less engaged. Test scores, undoubtedly, will back up these criticisms.

And yet, I don’t think the remote nature of this experiment is to blame. That is to say, returning to campus won’t fix everything. The standard pedagogy of today — teacher introduces new topic, student does work based on that topic, I-do-we-do-you-do — clearly isn’t working through Zoom, because without the physical presence of a teacher, I-do-we-do-you-do falls apart.

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