Sunday, April 5, 2020

10 Remote Learning Practices to Avoid

Educators, schools, and districts have earnestly rolled out remote learning plans to support students and fill in gaps as a result of extended closures.  We have seen fantastic progress in a short amount of time as teachers, with little to no training in this area, have valiantly risen to the occasion. Are the plans perfect? Not by any stretch, but that is because they don’t have to be. As I have been working with schools and districts to help get their remote learning off the ground, we have come to a consensus on essential elements. The key areas to focus on with any plan are equity, meeting the needs of special education students, sound pedagogy, and consistent communication with families.

The education community should be proud as they are building the plane and flying it at the same time. However, other educators and I have developed some concerns based on what we are seeing and hearing. Typically, I refrain from telling any educator what to do. That is not my place since I am not currently working full time in a school or district. 

My role is to provide support and advice while staying in my lane. Thus, please take what I am going to share below as just some suggestions to try to shy away from when it comes to remote learning.
  1. Piling on too much work
  2. Posting assignments with no plan for feedback
  3. Providing just digital options (HERE are some non-digital ideas)
  4. Traditional grading practices (avoid these altogether as learners are in inequitable situations)
  5. Relying solely on low-level worksheets, packets, or Teachers Pay Teachers materials (that are low-level)
  6. Thinking that you have to abide by a traditional school day schedule
  7. Forcing teachers to follow a traditional schedule while working remotely
  8. Using video tools in violation of FERPA
  9. Posting videos or pictures of kids learning online without proper consent (basically we shouldn't be sharing screenshots of kids during a Zoom or Google Hangout/Meets session)
  10. Covering the entire curriculum and every standard

Some of you might be thinking that common sense dictates that the practices above should be avoided. I wish that were the case. As more and more educators reach out to me to share their experiences and ask for advice, I thought it might be a good idea to put some of the issues out there front and center. Maybe I am wrong, or just perhaps you might be dealing with some of the unsound practices above. Either way, we are all in this together as educators, parents, and optimists in that we will rise from this challenge stronger, wiser, and more resilient than ever.

If there is anything that you feel should be added to the list, please post in the comments section below. For more ideas and resources be sure to check out the entire #remotelearning series


  1. I am so proud to see all of us rising to the occasion. We will certainly prosper

  2. I feel making your online courses self-paced is important. Great list of guidelines!!

  3. I like some of your guidelines, but please be careful when equating a particular website like Teacher-Pay-Teacher with low level worksheets. The materials I make for Teacher-Pay-Teacher are all standards based and utilize higher level thinking in several different ways.

    1. Did you view the hyperlink that adds context? In that post I explain that not all materials are bad. Here is the link

    2. Yes, and I found that even more disturbing. You were critical of a rubric that wasn't a rubric; it was a score sheet, which is completely different with a completely different expectation.

    3. That was my point. It was portrayed and sold as a rubric, which clearly it was not.