Schools embrace remote learning to beat Covid-19 disruption

Remote learning
Image: Learnovate

Learnovate centre tracks innovative ways to keep students engaged during lockdown



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31 March 2020 | 0

Secondary schools teachers across Ireland are finding technology is helping motivate students but there were a range of other concerns being raised by the students themselves according to the Learnovate edtech research centre based at Trinity College Dublin.

Other issues being raised by students to their teachers included: stress over whether state exams would be marked harder or even take place; concern over not having enough time to complete project work; poor broadband connectivity causing difficulty for students accessing learning tools; and personal issues such as parents having lost jobs or having to mind younger siblings while parents are at work.

Peter Gillis, innovation services lead, Learnovate said: “At times of uncertainty and distraction the ability to focus on schoolwork can be difficult. It can appear ‘not worth it’, so if we want to bring the focus back on to school work, what can we do? One valuable approach parents and teachers can take is to leverage the work done by Prof John Keller from Florida State University.”




Keller’s ARCS theory looks at four distinct elemtns for motivating students: sustaining attention; a sense that the work is personally relevant and accomplishes goals; confidence that problems can be solved; and satisfaction in their accomplishments.

The model can apply to the development of course exercises and to support messages or nudges that can be sent using technology and where possible personalised.

Technology that the school has embraced over the last number of years has meant that the transition to working from home has been made easier. However, as work is set by teachers, it’s important for students to not get overwhelmed or demotivated.

“We have decided that teachers should generally contact students during the time allocated for them on the existing timetable. This allows students to know that during specific times, they can concentrate on certain subjects, without interruption. It also allows them to take breaks at specific times,” explained Michael Rooney, deputy principal at Coola Post Primary School in Co. Sligo, says.

“As teachers, we are giving them achievable targets — generally no more than three or four pieces of work per subject per week – so they can complete the work to the best of their abilities and stay motivated.

“At Coola, all teachers and students are working on Microsoft 365 and are connected on Microsoft Teams. This, they find, motivates each other – even the teachers, many of whom are trying to work from home and mind children of their own.

“Every student has their own e-mail address and they have access to Teams, One Note and SharePoint and we have set up various Teams for the different subjects. Students can work offline as well and take pictures of their work and upload them to limit their time in front of screens. They all have the app on their phones.”

As part of Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim Education and Training Board, Coola recently received training – this has led to an increase in motivation and engagement.

“I can see – even over the time since the school closed – how as everyone is getting more comfortable with the equipment and the platforms, this is helping motivate them further,” said Rooney.

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