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A Message From Our Founder: The Greatest Challenge for Distance Learning

“The greatest challenge for distance-learning may be monitoring process and progress.”

The current global exercise in distance learning unveils a reality we will soon confess: the most challenging part of remote learning is the discipline and framework for showing proof of understanding through process. Let me explain.

 

Imagine what’s going on with students miles away from their classrooms. What forms of accountability and structure are taking place? As a teacher, what can I rely on to assure administrators, parents, and my students that the assigned curriculum is actually being taught—and learned?

 

We can set up remote classes, use video conferencing, and start getting more out of our LMS. But we need to ensure the learning is actually getting done. Without the physical presence of a teacher monitoring a student, we need new ways to hold students’ hands, provide accountability, and focus on learning.

The truth is, in every successful learning environment, the student must show their work to prove their work. Clear, undeniable evidence of progress will ultimately reveal proper outcomes.

Memorization vs. proof of competency

Monitoring millions of distance learners is impossible without the right tools—tools that show proof of progress and encourage the critical practice of reflection. Usually, class accountability means employing various rote memorization strategies that work for about 10% of the students and have little to do with effective forms of individual learning styles or proof of competencies. Now is our time to shift from the rigid ‘teaching to the standards’ method that only focuses on outcomes to more student-centered learning. Learning that focuses on accountability, progress, and personalized goal-driven strategies that demonstrate achievement.

 

Behaviorism doesn’t work in a distance learning setting where rote recitation and fill-in-the-blanks function. Instead, a stronger case is made for the pedagogy of liberationism, where the learning is showcased and student-directed based on the constructs defined by the teacher. Within distance learning environments that may at best provide unreliable WiFi access, this approach works well.

Proof of understanding through process

Today, proof of understanding comes through revealing the process. Any student can type a question into a browser and instantly get an answer for a quiz or a test. In some instances, this is expected. But how did the student arrive at the conclusion? It’s important for students to clearly express their process, explaining each step, even if each step requires the internet. This is the key to encouraging and ensuring the learning is taking place remotely.

 

Sure students are going to waste time, sure they will come up with all sorts of whacky tricks, but encouraging a process to a given end—no matter what it is, as long as they show their teachers how their minds work—may be one of the best learning environments we were ever accidentally forced to create.

— Erik Petrik
Founder & Chairman

bulb Digital Portfolios is one of the best ways students can show clear, undeniable process. They can use photos, videos, audio files, any kind of media or research to provide proof and a map of evidence.

 

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9 April 2020