ICT · Online Learning · Teaching

Surviving but not thriving in an online learning world.

We are three weeks into our remote learning experience.

Our staff and done an amazing job so far.

My favorite tweet at the start of this process was “Teachers started out running a marathon and part way through someone turned it into a triathlon.”

We have rapidly changed our game plan. Our swim and bike leg are developing quickly.

  • All our students have a netbook. Any student whose computer was broken could come and get a replacement at the start of term 2. 
  • All staff put all work students need to complete on our Learning Management System.  This was an expectation before remote learning. 
  • For year 7 to 10 our plans was ⅓ face to face teaching by video conference, ⅓ tutorial where the teacher was online to answer questions live and ⅓ independent practice provided by staff and completed by students.   
  • VCE staff are encouraged to do 2 out of 3 lessons face to face via video conference.

Here are the results of a survey we did with our students during week 3 of remote learning.

The feedback is clear that we may be piling on a little too much work but it is rare that students say, “Please Sir, I want some more”

The most pleasing aspect is the very high engagement with remote learning. We have 95% of students logging in from home every day.

While students are participating remotely the majority want to be back at school.


What it looks like on the ground is impressive too. Schools are not closed, contrary to popular opinion. We have a small number of students who attend every day and do their remote learning on-site.

Here is an email I shared with staff on Thursday;

Subject: A learning walk, digital style.

I did a learning walk with our onsite students today.

There were 12 students on site  today from a range of year levels. 

They were all hard at work in the Year 7 center, socially isolating, laptops on, headphones in, heads down, bums up doing remote learning. One of our regular CRT’s was guiding the ship while checking the cattle prices. 

You guys probably don’t get to see it from a student point of view. 

What our staff have managed to do, with 3 weeks’ notice, is pretty impressive. 

Today during period 3, there were four students involved in WebEx classes. They had their cameras off but I insisted they turn them on so I could distract the teacher. 

Well done (Teacher name) for not noticing me until I told the lad to turn his mike on so I could disrupt the whole class. They were learning about WW2, listening to the teacher and answering questions. They then went on to watching a video together as a class. He was engaged, the teacher was engaged and from what I could see on the web cams, the rest of the class were tuned in too. 

Next, a Year 7 science lad was doing some “Education Perfect” on phases of the moon. He knew what a Gibbous Moon was but the similarities and differences of a waxing and waning Gibbous had thus far eluded him. I soon put that right. He liked Ed Perfect but felt some teachers were overdoing it. 

Next, a maths class. They were watching an instructional video. This lad was supposed to be watching an instructional video too. Tip for teacher’s: Chat in Webex is like off task talk. I had a look at the chat stream that this lad was engaged in. Lots of it was rubbish. You can, and should, lock the chat down unless you are getting kids to collaborate. 

Here is the setting for chat when you want the kids focused on you or the video not on gossiping with each other. 


This prevents them from chatting with each other privately or publicly with everyone. You can change Chat settings on the fly during your class. 

The next student I spoke to was planning for a debate where she was arguing for the driving age to be lowered to 16. I gave her some ideas to rebut. She had written three pages of a speech. Her speaker one part may need editing. 

A year 7 lad was doing his HUMS assignment. He was doing some research on Nefertiti. Despite having googled all the answers on the assignment sheet he could tell me almost nothing about Nefertiti or why I should want to know more about her. Task completion can be a poor proxy for learning, particularly on research tasks. 

We have three brothers who come in most days. They were in good form. One was able to tell me how Tim Tams fitted into the healthy diet pyramid. He told me to eat Tim Tams rarely. One was trying to address a sea of red on his Science progress bars but Stile was not cooperating with him. The oldest one was doing some safe at Work OHS task for VET. He was all over it. 

A Year 7 girl was watching a Clickview video on how to use a Tenon saw. She’d split her screen and was typing answers to the questions on the other half while the video played on the other half. Even Wood Tech carries on remotely. 

Well done everyone for keeping the learning going. I’m pretty sure our kids are getting the best education we can provide them under the current circumstances. 

The learning walk made my day. 





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