In 2020 schools across the world experienced a hasty shift to remote learning. Teachers worked hard to maintain curriculum delivery despite these challenging circumstances.

And while this shift was only temporary for most Australian schools, for many outback communities remote learning is nothing new. So, as we reflect on the last year, we must ask ourselves, is remote learning an effective teaching method?

In the State of Technology in Education Report 2021, we gave educators and edtech professionals an opportunity to voice their opinions on, and experiences with, remote learning.

Of all groups surveyed, teachers were by far the most disparaging of remote learning, with no respondents believing it to be an effective teaching strategy. This is in contrast with 24% of Senior Management Team members, and 27% of IT managers. Teachers were also almost twice as likely (60%) as the IT and Senior Managers to believe that students learn best in the classroom.

When it came to how prepared their school was for remote learning, overall responses were middling:

  • 17% “extremely prepared”
  • 26% “quite prepared”
  • 25% “adequately prepared”
  • 27% “not very prepared”
  • 5% “extremely unprepared”

Broken down into categories, teachers again skewed to the negative, with only 7% responding that their school was extremely prepared.

When you look at workload impact, the difference in these groups becomes glaring. Teachers were far more likely than other groups at 74% to report an increase in workload during this time, facing longer hours and a push to be available outside of school hours as a port of call to struggling students.

The most common challenges faced by all respondents were student internet and technology access, with 68% and 65% respectively, so it’s clear that equitable access to edtech for students is an issue.

Improving technology availability for students is an obvious next step. Beyond that, investment in edtech that can be used in-class, and also facilitate remote learning when necessary, could offer a solution.

While remote learning was the exception for many, rural communities still heavily rely on this teaching strategy. As we learn and improve on education technology, hopefully this will mean positive change for those vulnerable communities.