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Online learning - what happens when it doesn't work?

Started by Karen 16 Jan 2017 3:10pm () Replies (8)

Hi everyone.

I am keen to hear people's thoughts about online learning in the classroom and at home and what happens if student's have difficulty accessing learning. Must all learners use the same spaces/websites? If something does not work efficiently for a learner is it possible to explore other options? E.G. If you are a school that uses Google Docs but that is not the best way of doing something for a learner, is the flexibility to use something different, such as Word locally on a laptop?

Many thanks



  • Ngaire Shepherd-Wills (View all users posts) 18 Jan 2017 5:05pm ()

    Hi Karen,

    I think that the whole purpose behind using digital tools in the classroom is to enhance learning, not be a barrier. If you have a student who a certain digital tool is not working for, by all means, I would be selecting the best tool for them. There are some great resources on the inclusive education tki site that could be worth a look at too. 


  • Karen (View all users posts) 19 Jan 2017 8:57am ()

    Hi Ngaire

    Thanks for your input. I really appreciate it. I'm not so much worried about what resources to use as our learners have a range of technology toolbox solutions to use. I suppose I'm just more interested to know that if a learner was in a classroom and couldn't access information using the same means as their peers, would it be possible to use a different option.



  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 25 Jan 2017 12:43pm ()

    Hi Karen, this is an interesting question, especially as we consider strengthening connections between home and school and more blended learning opportunities are introduced as additional/alternative strategies to traditional methods of teaching and learning.

    Blender I think the key word for me would be blended. Often the use of digital tools/resources can provide more accessibility to students, ie assistive technologies for inclusive education (like Ngaire has mentioned) as well as create opportunities for personalised learning pathways. One would hope technologies enabled choice in learning.

    The disconnect can come when accessibility is inhibited - inequitable access to devices or Internet access. Some families can't afford either, in those cases digital learning learning tasks can't be accessed from home. so alternative means of assigning tasks would need to be considered - maybe mixture of traditional resources etc (blended).

    Just a question to clarify, have you noticed a trend/issue that has arisen specifically in relation to accessibility for students (classroom or home)?

    Image source

  • Karen (View all users posts) 25 Jan 2017 1:08pm ()

    Hey Tessa

    I like the use of the word blended too. And you are right about digital tools providing more accessibility for students. My concern really is that assistive technology is only part of the solution. If students are trying to access online learning - websites, apps etc. - that are not created to be accessible, then it often doesn't matter how good their AT is.

    We certainly have noticed that our learners have difficulty accessing some websites. Or there maybe parts of websites that work and some that don't. International data has shown that often real time features don't work - e.g. chat - which can impact negatively.

    Really just wondering about what solutions schools come up with when things don't work.

  • Allanah King (View all users posts) 25 Jan 2017 1:36pm ()

    Hi Karen,

    I wrote this blog post 'The Right Tool for the Job' on my Edublog some time ago and I think it still holds true. 

    My ideal would be a mixture of devices and learning tools available to everyone- then people get to know which tool was the right one for each situation.

    I love the digital tools but at a meeting this week I picked up my pen and paper to record my notes as having a laptop screen between us seemed like it would be making a barrier not removing one.

    I think at times too then no digital tools is the best option. I was supporting a teacher in her class recently with some borrowed iPads and they had a variety of different pass codes on them and we soon got ourselves locked out. The best option at that stage was to regroup and go out for a game and cool off and sort the tech issue before trying again to use the borrowed iPads. The use of technology in that situation at that time was a hindrance to learning not a support for it. 

  • Karen (View all users posts) 25 Jan 2017 2:15pm ()

    Hi Allanah

    I am certainly a big fan of a mix of technologies, learning tools and skills being used, and deciding which to used based on what the specific task is. I suppose for our learners they bring their tools with them. It's not usually a case of picking up a device in a classroom as our learners need to use quite specific technologies that are set up to meet their needs.

    Your 'right tool for the job' is definitely one of the key ideas for us too. As is self-advocacy. It is so important for our learners to be able to talk about what works best for them and why.


  • Barrie Matthews (View all users posts) 14 Mar 2017 4:17pm ()

    Hi Karen

    You might like to consider LEARNZ virtual field trips for your (online) teaching and learning programme. Feedback from teachers indicates that students feel included in the learning even if, say, reading is not their strong suit.

    A recent webinar on the VLN, has a commentated walk-through of a web site specifically built to support a LEARNZ virtual field trip. Replay the recording or other recordings and make up your own mind - we believe we do a lot of "heavy lifting" to help teachers extend their reach.

    Happy to help further.

    Barrie from the LEARNZ Team

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