It’s hard to adapt to remote learning, but here’s what I’ve learnt

The way in which we learn has changed dramatically over the last year. This applies not only to us, from a training perspective, but our children, who are having to learn at home and their teachers, who are having to deliver this learning virtually.

At the time of writing this, we are 316 days (45 weeks and 1 day, 87% of a year, 7584 hours and 455,040 minutes) since lockdown 1 on the 23rd March 2020.

I’m not sure which of these sounds more bearable?!

Let me introduce myself; my job is Head of Learning and Development at Baltimore Consulting, an award-winning Public-sector recruitment company.

It’s my role to ensure that all of our staff are skilled to do their job, well and that we are identifying where their areas for development are. I’m also our company Mental Health First Aider. I need to look out for all of them in so many different ways.

So, what can I share about my experience of remote learning?

In a face-to-face office setting, visual and auditory cues are there for me to pick up on all the time. Body language that tells me what kind of mood they’re in as soon as they walk through the door. Body language that tells me if they’re happy, sad, stressed or if they are full of energy ready for the day.

I hear their conversations; I hear when they are on a call to a candidate or client and when they might need some guidance in order to get the best outcome. I hear their conversations with each other – there are some things where I know I can instantly help, make a quick fix and provide a problem.

Working 100% remotely has its challenges – all of that vanishes. Well, nearly all of it.

I can still see their faces, I can still see their messages and respond accordingly to any issues, but it’s not the same. It’s more reactive based on what I believe the need to be (surface level) as opposed to proactive coaching based on what I can see and hear.

For teachers and children within education, there’s unfortunately an extra layer of complexity, making it even more challenging to deliver quality teaching remotely.

With recent news suggesting that “pupils in the UK could stand to lose an average of £40,000 each in lifetime earnings from lost time in school because of Covid”, it’s clear that we need to do more to avoid a generation being left behind.

I have two teenage children, both learning to adapt to remote teaching from school. Every school and every teacher will operate slightly differently, there’s no rule book on style and delivery. Some teachers have nailed it and others are still exploring different and innovative ways to deliver their classes online. It’s hard for the children, the teachers and the parents.

Whilst we’re all still learning, I’ve found that by prioritising the following points really helps to keep others engaged:

Keep the schedule simple – Time, date, subject, link needed

Reduce content on slides Make sure your slides and lesson are engaging and not too long!

Keep an eye on the chat box – Is everyone contributing? Who needs your help?

Use Praise! If an adult or a child has spent the time to complete a task, don’t ignore their contribution. Acknowledge the effort made. Everyone feels a bit like an island too, let them know they’re heard, a smiley emoji, thumbs up or just a simple well done, is all that’s needed sometimes.

Don’t name and shame virtually – Distractions are inevitable, siblings, parents, pets, doorbells, if someone hasn’t contributed to the best of their ability, the worst thing you can do is name and shame them out loud. We can’t see what’s going on in their home. Maybe they are just trying their best in an impossible situation and that right now is good enough. Provide feedback separately.

Ultimately, my point is that it’s extremely hard to adapt to remote learning, quickly! We can only do our best with the tools we have.

If you’re a parent and working from home too, give yourself a pat on the back, give your child a squeeze and tell them you’re proud of them.

I’m off to go and do just that.


Louise Foster

Head of Talent & Development