Did Remote Learning Really Fail?

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As reported in the NYT, Harvard just released a pretty extensive report that claims that “remote learning didn’t work”.

Is this the correct conclusion?

Let’s say we draft 22 talented athletes, but do not design a playbook nor conduct any practices. We simply put the 22 players on the field and ask them to win the game. Is anyone surprised when they lose? Should our conclusion be that we simply drafted the wrong 22 athletes?

We never had a plan for remote learning. So to say that remote learning simply didn't work is dangerously nearsighted and politically tainted. We just failed to implement unplanned, emergency remote learning. But you could make the same argument about unplanned learning in general.

There’s no doubt that we could have done better (and perhaps should have at least put together a rudimentary plan, but that’s a topic for another day). But now the question remains - what are we learning from this failure?

Education is at an inflection point. I can’t find any credible arguments that we were on a sustainable path prior to the pandemic. And I can’t think of another industry that has so poorly implemented tools of leverage than education. Employees that don’t or can’t learn how to use modern tools are fired in other industries all the time. However, teaching has remained a protected domain…and that has to change.

Instead of monolithic, short-sighted claims that remote (or asynchronous) learning just didn’t work, let’s explore the elements that did work (and are still working fabulously in various online platforms) and find ways to creating a hybrid future that helps us move forward on a better path than the one we had in 2019.

More analogies forthcoming…