Six takeaways from two years of online learning

If there is one defining image for education in 2020 and 2021, it may very well be, for better or for worse, the Zoom screen. Teachers and students alike were thrust unexpectedly into a bizarre new reality of virtual classrooms, and the results were predictably chaotic. Even now, with many students once again learning in person, the specter of hybrid learning looms large in the face of localized COVID surges.

Graphic depiction of students learning remotely.

Penn GSE associate professor and director of the Penn Center for Learning Analytics Ryan Baker researches how students use and learn from educational software, games, and other forms of digital technology. As two full years of this explosion in virtual learning approaches, Baker shares some thoughts on best practices, and which practices should be avoided.

Baker says being on Zoom all day doesn’t work. Instead, embrace asynchronous learning. Done right, asynchronous learning can be powerful. A combination of asynchronous and synchronous sessions can keep students engaged. Also, don’t mix and match lessons across learning platforms. Because each platform organizes and orders its units differently, teachers could inadvertently find themselves in a position where the unit they’ve chosen directly calls back to lessons from a previous unit the class simply hasn’t covered yet because they haven’t been using the platform as intended. Instead, spend time to pick the right platform, and stick with it. And lastly, provide immediate feedback—delayed feedback is unproductive. And then share best practices with peers.

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