It is 2021, and we are over a year into the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic. The reach of this health crisis has been global – not only in terms of the mobilization of new vaccines and old treatments, but also in many social institutions like education, business, and government. The world has had to adapt to a qualitative and quantitative shift away from traditional in-person education, training, and workflow, into a remote interactive space where the same work can be accomplished but, in an environment, where individuals are not in the same physical location. Sometimes this is referred to as “Distance Learning.”
COVID-19, while a powerful example of why remote learning and working is necessary, is not the only reason for educational, business, and governmental institutions to start thinking about the RIS environment. Any emergency or organizational circumstance can trigger the need to switch to a remote environment that mirrors the in-person requirements in every way. The advantage is that little, if anything, will be lost in the transition to and from this remote environment.
"Rather than accept that we will exist in a reactionary position for the foreseeable future, we can choose to look at these changing times as an opportunity to reimagine how we can safely and equitably prepare ALL students for a workplace and society much differently than we have in the past. To accomplish this, we need to create a more engaging and inspiring narrative that educators, parents, and students can all subscribe to: a more humane and empowering technology-enabled future." - Dr. Bill Daggett, founder of the Successful Practices Network
Any educational, business or government organization should be able to utilize a Remote Interactive Space (RIS) specific to their content needs and organizational timeframe. If circumstances demand that remote learning and working are needed, an organization should be able to engage them at a moment’s notice. Of course, how successful the remote learning and working environment depend on several factors including the technological infrastructure needed as well as the ability of the individuals in the organization to competently employ the technology. Making sure students, employees, or others actively and enthusiastically engage in the process is also of prime importance. Although there are similarities and shared elements, remote learning is not the same as virtual learning. Virtual learning – or eLearning – is often associated with educational, vocational, or training institutions and is more than likely based on an established educational framework with an official organizational institution. This means there is a recognized learning content curriculum, and an LMS (Learning Management System) is used that facilitates and organizes the structured course or learning experience as well as performance support content. eLearning often uses various learning features, such as a synchronous or asynchronous lecture environment, video, quizzes and exams, learning and training activities, or other interactive elements. While remote learning can employ the elements of eLearning, the goal is to simulate the elements of an in-person environment that creates an opportunity for students/employees and teachers/trainers to stay linked and involved with the subject matter -- all while working from a location other than the classroom or workplace.
What Does Remote Learning and Learning Look Like?
Dr. Kecia Ray, an educational researcher and consultant, created "The Just in Time Playbook for Remote Learning," which identifies many of the elements necessary for successful remote learning (in this case, the K-
12 learning environment). She identifies structure as the most important element when creating such an environment. Within the structure, the following characteristics must be considered:
TIME: Here, expectations and boundaries are set regarding elements like the time the learning will take place, the time learners must spend engaging with course content, and the times at which questions or personal meetings with the instructor will take place.
COMMUNICATION: This is a consideration of not only when but how communication is to take place between the instructor and learner, or among the students engaging in the learning space. Also important is setting the rules and expectations regarding evaluations within the learning space.
TECHNOLOGY: There is no standardized technology used when an organization creates a remote interactive space. Yet, a clearly established technology provided by the institution must be defined and provided, as well as alternatives if not all learners are able to use the preferred method (LMS, email, web browser, online collaborative tool, etc.). It is also important that some type of technical support is provided.
LESSON DESIGN: This is very important because it is harder to make ad hoc changes in the remote learning environment. Some of the things to consider are setting the lesson plan, defining lesson objectives, assessing current understanding of the subject matter, introducing relevant content, assigning application activities, and assessing mastery of the content.
Benefits of Remote Learning and Working
Now more than ever, it is important for not only educational institutions, but also business and governmental organizations, to begin planning a seamless move from an in-person to remote learning and working environment – and back again. There are many benefits to a remote learning and working environment. One of the many benefits of a remote interactive environment is that remote learning allows those with lesser opportunities to gain access to education, training, or work roles. Secondly, remote learning allows instructors and learners more flexibility in presenting the subject matter, pacing, learning, and assessment. It also allows for information to be presented in multiple ways and virtually in any location.
There is much to consider when migrating from an in-person to one that is either a hybrid of traditional and remote learning or one that is completely conducted remotely. It is important to have a company with the experience, cost-effectiveness, and customer service elements that will make this process as painless as possible. S4Carlisle will work closely with educational institutions, vocational schools, and private and public organizations to make sure your content is designed and presented in an engaging and effective manner.