Online learning – lessons for the future (2)

In our last instalment, we described what happened when courses went on line in a secondary school. The issues we encountered are really general ones.

The first one is simply that unless learning activities are scheduled, you get massively different rates of progress through them. This is no surprise, of course. Students have varying abilities and interests, and both of these affect their engagement with the learning activities offered. This is a key feature of face to face lessons – they schedule learning. And in doing so. they disguise the progress which some students could have made. Are some students really held back by face to face lessons? This anecdote implies that they are. At the same time, the face to face session tends to ensure that all students have actually learned something. At the time, with online learning, you could certainly tell if some students had learned nothing because they had not logged on at all.

So it looks as though in face to face lessons, the price of holding some students back is that all students meet the learning requirement of the lesson. Is this really true, by the way? Of course, it depends.

In practice, both colleagues went back to scheduling in some form or other. But both also added a wide variety of broadening activities to the scheduled units.

In the next instalment we will look at what we did to check learning had acutally taken place.

By the way, would you like your school to be recognised for the great work you are doing with educational technology? Check out The Education Technology Alliance awards at

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