Fab Fridays 21: Online Learning vs. Remote Learning

The benefits and challenges of Online Education.

Happy Friday Everyone!

The transition to remote learning hasn’t been easy for many.

Students are “zoomed” out.

Teachers are burned out.

Parents are stressed out.

Little learning is going on. But why?

David Wiley at BYU uses "The Polo Parable" to explain why remote learning—and by this term I mean, “trying to recreate schools online”—doesn't work.

Think about playing horseback polo on a field versus playing water polo in a pool. In both sports there’s a ball, you have to score, play offense, and play defense. Both sports are called polo, and at a high level they're the same activity. But the strategies that work in horseback polo don’t necessarily work in the pool.

The same is true for online learning. Assuming that traditional classroom techniques will work well online is like assuming the horseback polo playbook will work in the pool.

Schools have asked teachers to do their best to recreate the classroom experience online. "Grab your lesson plans and teach them online. Use the techniques and accountability measures you've always used in the classroom and expect kids to learn.​

This is not online learning. This is remote learning, a quick reaction to the COVID-19 circumstances. Rather than creating lessons for a virtual audience, schools are adapting the in-person courses they’ve historically relied on.

If kids were hardly learning the “traditional way” in the classroom, will they learn now—isolated in front of a screen?

​Good online learning is not about “adjusting” old lessons to make them available online; it's about rethinking lessons, class dynamics, student interactions, accountability measures, and assignments—with a virtual audience in mind.

In this week's episode of Show & Tell, David and I address this topic and share what we've seen works and doesn't work in online learning. Watch episode here.

​Among other things, we discuss:

  • The difference between Online Learning and Remote Learning

  • The benefits and the challenges of Online Education

  • The limits of Zoom and the need for new and better technologies to teach and learn online

  • How to run an effective online course (specific examples of what works)

  • Why we believe that a blend of online education and an in-person component will shape the future of online education

I hope you find the video informative. Let me know what you think!

Until next week,

Ana Lorena Fabrega