We need to bring learning to people instead of people to learning
- Elliot Masie, Chair, The MASIE Center
With remote education rapidly becoming an increasingly important tool to sustain skills development during school closures, questions about the digital transformation of schooling are emerging. Particular focus has been placed on the way the schooling community perceives this move, on what the effectiveness of online learning and its benefits may be – particularly in comparison to face-to-face learning – and how to use digital education to learners’ best advantage.
In this blog, we try to answer some of these questions and provide insights into the world of e-learning by drawing on our experience as a leading educational company and tutoring partner of the National Tutoring Programme, as well as a new survey from Bramble – our live online tutoring platform providers – which looks at data from over 2,000 online students and educators in the UK.
The Rise of the Digital Classroom
We know that the pandemic has accelerated the move to online learning, contributing to the increased popularity of the digital classroom among students and tutors alike. Results from Bramble’s survey show that while 80% of the tutors who responded ‘had little or no experience of online tutoring’ before lockdown, 99% of them now plan to continue with the delivery of online tuition for at least the next 24 months. This seems to demonstrate that there is a clear propensity to deliver lessons virtually, even among the tutors who were initially less experienced in the online environment.
How Effective is Live Online Tutoring?
Because tutoring has traditionally focused on face-to-face delivery, in-depth research into the effectiveness of online learning must be carried out. The recently launched Pearson Tutoring Programme, which provides subsidised online tuition to help children catch up on learning lost during the pandemic, will provide further insight into this matter in time. However, for now, our analysis draws upon the data collected by Bramble. By looking at their findings, an interesting shift in people’s attitude towards the adequacy of remote education emerges, showing the scale is being tilted increasingly in favour of remote learning: 84% of the students who took part in the survey found online provisions more effective, or as affective as the in-person alternative, and 75% of parents, tutors and organisations declared it to be at least as effective as in-person tutoring. This would suggest that the education community is quickly adapting to the use of innovative technologies and open to exploring new digital ways of teaching and learning.
What are the Benefits of Live Online Tutoring?
Much has been said about the benefits of online learning since long before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially when compared to the face-to-face alternative. While the debate over which learning method may hold the best record carries on, what really needs to be pointed out is that online tutoring simply differs from in-person teaching. As such, it brings with it a different set of benefits – as well as challenges.
We believe that, despite criticism and some objections, virtual learning can provide a complete school experience with a wide range of benefits, and this seems to be corroborated by Bramble’s research findings too. When asked about the main benefits of online learning, tutors, students, and parents were quite unanimous in identifying the following benefits as key: flexibility of lesson scheduling, the searchable lesson recordings, and enhanced learners’ focus – because of online classes being smaller in size than in-school classes.
What Factors Make Online Learning More Effective?
Looking at their own usage and engagement data, Bramble have uncovered some instructive information that has helped to identify the main factors influencing the efficacy of online learning.
Past teaching experience in the online environment appears to be the strongest predictor of efficacy for tutors; the larger the percentage of tutoring a tutor delivered online before lockdown, the more effective they rated online tutoring to be. Because the successul of remote learning is directly proportional to the experience of tutors in an e-learning setting, having instructors that are thoroughly trained in the ways of online delivery is key. This is the reason all Pearson Tutoring Programme tutors are fully certified to provide live tuition remotely.
Unsurprisingly, being able to access technology easily was another determining factor for successful online learning. Users with poor internet connections were more likely to find online tutoring less effective. Overall, learners without connectivity issues found online tutoring to be more 1.6x more effective than those with connectivity challenges.
Looking Forward – The Future of Live Online Learning
Bramble’s survey has brought to light many of the benefits provided by online learning. Additional lesson flexibility, better learner focus, and searchable lesson recordings have been identified as powerful tools for learning – as well as stringent safeguarding measures. Inevitably, challenges have also been highlighted, with the research suggesting that clear actions around training and technology are needed to improve the online teaching and learning experience.
Most of all, this research has shown how the move towards online education creates exciting opportunities to enhance the learning experience with more data and further insights. It has also provided evidence of how tutoring can be used to fill gaps in students’ learning, strengthening collaboration between tutors and teachers.
In this context, the UK’s National Tutoring Programme represents a chance to further enhance this analysis and provide high-quality learning experiences to students through technologies that overcome the barriers the pandemic has placed in schools’ way,’ says Mickey Revenaugh, Vice President of Online Learning, UK Schools, at Pearson. As a tutoring partner we are delighted to be part of this journey and to be able to shape the future of education.
Find out more about the Pearson Tutoring Programme