The COVID Classroom: How do students and teachers feel about remote learning?

Undertaking some research for MoAD Learning looking at teachers and technology, with a little bit of COVID-19 thrown in too, because, why not?! In preparing for the study we found a number of reports looking into remote learning from the perspective of Australian students and teachers, and an international study.

This first post reports on a study from the Victorian Student Representative Council Learning from remote learning (June 2020).

The Victorian Student Representative Council LTD (VicSRC) is the peak body representing school-aged students in Victoria, with a vision of “  … education that’s flexible, relevant and includes students in all decisions”. VicSRC also states:

Students’ voices are often not heard in conversations about education and the education system, but in this report you will find the voices of hundreds of students wanting to share their opinions not only about remote and online learning, but about the education system as whole.

VicSRC surveyed 505 students and then undertook video consultations with a representative sample of 16 students to unpack the findings further.

Topline findings:

  • 90% reported learning from home during the pandemic
  • 68% liked that they could work at their own pace
  • 60% were more comfortable at home
  • 33% identified that spending more time with family was a positive
  • 33% reported that it was quieter at home
  • 30% said learning from home allowed them to sleep more – many found sleeping in and saving time travelling to school was helpful to their learning
  • They didn’t like the lack of interaction with their peers (61%) and a lack of communication with teachers (50%), and 50% felt they were given too much work by teachers
  • 64% felt they were keeping up with their work or felt more on top of their work than usual
  • 57% of primary students and 35% of secondary students were excited to go back to school, those that didn’t want to cited:
    • Feeling more comfortable at home
    • Able to work independently
    • Finding learning easier at home
    • Dissatisfaction with their school
    • Noise levels and disruption at school
    • Commute time
    • Fears about COVID-19 infections
    • Social anxiety

How did they find remote learning?

  • 34% felt more in control of their learning
  • 30% felt they had fallen behind / 16% felt they had fallen behind a lot
  • 20% stated not much had changed

What was their access like?

  • 91% had access to both internet and an appropriate device for learning
  •   7% had access to a device but not reliable internet
  •   2% only had access to the internet, not their own device

The study reported that:

Access to reliable internet and devices was a key element in whether remote learning from home was successful and effective. Students also commented that without internet or devices their ability to socialize and stay connected to friends, classmates and teachers was heavily impacted.

What parts of remote learning do students want to continue in face-to-face?

  • The ability for them to work at their own pace and decide when and how they would like to learn
  • Online options integrated into face-to-face learning – as they accessed new tools and platforms and wanted to continue using these in the classroom
  • A warmer and more comfortable environment at school that provides
  • More mental health support and a better school/life balance

Some comments:

Give students the choice to continue online learning or face to face. In other words, don’t make it mandatory for the student to JUST attend face to face classes to count as part of their attendance. I’d love some days where I don’t have the motivation to commute, if I could just have an online lesson. That would do wondrous things. (Year 11 student)

Home learning needs to be an option for all students, the pressure has been lifted and my mental health has never been better. Yes this isn’t for everyone but school isn’t for everyone either. (Year 12 student)

It’s a terrific report and well worth a read – the quotes from students in particular are really insightful. Download the report here.

My next post looks at a study with Australian teachers conducted by the Melbourne Graduate School of Education.


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