Online learning and distance education: in conversation with Dr. Tony Bates, 25 February, 2021

Why the interview?

This is a 40 minute video recording of an interview with Sarah Horrocks, Director of the Connected Learning Centre, London, UK, which has a web site, BlendEd, which supports school teachers in the pedagogy of blended/hybrid learning. Sarah interviewed me in February, 2021 about my concerns about how online learning was being delivered in school systems during Covid-19.

What was covered

The following topics were covered:

  • key challenges for online learning in the school system during the emergency
  • limitations and strengths of online learning in k-12
  • the need for redesign and change of pedagogy when moving teaching online to accommodate children learning in isolation
  • the need to prioritise development of basic skills in online rather than covering the same content in a classroom context
  • need to limit screen time/on screen and to provide opportunities for asynchronous/off-screen activities
  • need for
    • structured activities,
    • deadlines and feedback on activities
    • time management (students and teacher)
    • teacher presence
    • social presence/online group work
    • continuous rather than summary assessment
  • role of parents in online learning
  • creating a culture in the online environment
  • the need for different approaches to online learning, depending on the age of the children
  • priorities for children coming to school when only some can come to school
  • advice for school boards and ministries about decision-making about online learning

Current relevance

In the summer of 2022 we seem to be emerging from an emergency and returning back to normal. Nevertheless reviewing this interview today, I am struck by how relevant it remains. Online learning is not going away, even in school systems, and many of the issues discussed in this interview are as relevant today as they were 18 months ago.


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