Adapting to teaching and learning online

As we adapt to connecting with teachers, parents and learners online, we discuss the importance of avoiding cognitive overload. We’ll share tips from your fellow SET members on finding tools which are intuitive, reasonably priced and easy to use.

Read our further article for more information on the tools you can use to teach remotely, including links to webinars to support your professional development.


Avoiding cognitive overload

“When teaching remotely, it is important for educators to avoid cognitive overload and guide learners with simple and clear instructions to activities that are aligned to a learning aim.

It is more supportive to limit the number of activities and instead select pertinent progressive activities that will facilitate effective scaffold learning. Remote or distance learning can be isolating. To compensate for this, communities of practice will enable socialising while encouraging peer support. For effective engagement it is a good idea for learners to agree on a ‘NETiquette’ and set up online rules of behaviour. Some synchronous gathering via webinar will strengthen the sense of belonging.

One-to-one online tutorials are also recommended to feedback and review individual progression and support needs. Finally, to keep learners motivated we should build formative and summative activities such as polls, quizzes and other games. These will reward learners and contribute to celebrating achievement.” Vikki Liogier, National Head of EdTech and Digital Skills for the Education and Training Foundation (ETF).


Tips and ideas for home working

Andrew Dowell, Head of Professional Status at ETF, has published a selection of tips and ideas to support those of you working remotely. This includes video conferencing, collaborative file storage, team communication, team meetings, screen recording and sharing resources.

“Recent events have increased our need to find innovative ways to remain connected and technology is at the heart of this change. Use of Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Hangouts and FaceTime have become integral to team meetings, teaching and virtual catch ups, where previously, these technologies were used by few, the masses are now logging in and turning on their cameras seeking face-to-face contact.

Communities of educators are rallying round online to form virtual staff rooms offering support to those new to technology and suggesting innovations to those who wish to perfect their online presence. Although we may feel alone and isolated in our houses there are now plenty of tools at our disposal to remain connected and stay safe.” Andrew Dowell, Head of Professional Status at ETF.


Your tips for online learning

SET members have been discussing their experiences of the best tools for online learning, especially for companies looking to move training for small groups into an internal Learning Management System (LMS).

Matt: “I love Moodle, Microsoft Teams and Google Classroom. Moodle is probably the best in terms of being able to customise, but it takes a bit of technical know-how to get it up and running, so I would look at the other two if you want something set up relatively quick. Have a look at some YouTube videos on how to use them.”

Jennifer: “We use Google Classroom as it’s widely compatible with our systems and very intuitive to use. A large portion of online tools also have a Google account login, so it reduces the number of accounts your students are having to make.”

Lynne: “I use Zoom - it's an affordable option and for smaller teams on a budget it's free for 40-minute sessions. In response to a lot of teams moving training online there are a lot of useful webinars and blogs happening at present. I think the most important thing is to focus on pedagogy (what works in your current provision and how to move this online) and on learners' needs, rather than asking what new ways of working the tech brings first. Here's a useful event happening soon which might be of interest ‘How to move training online – a trainer’s quick guide’.”

Sandra: “I prefer to use Zoom. It is reasonably priced and there is also a free option. It is simple and clear to use and similar to Skype, but with more facilities. Go To Webinar is also popular, and I think it is more sophisticated.”

Lorna: “Google Education is brilliant. I highly recommend it - it does almost all that Moodle does, but it is more reliable and accessible.”

Jan: “I also use Zoom. Another platform to use is, which is also free for small groups and easy to use for people who aren’t used to technology. I use both these platforms with my students.”

Mandy: "I've been using Quizlet, which is easy to set up and use."

Online communities

Why not join one of our Facebook groups to get support and join in with discussions like the one above?