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Using information to provide the right supports for remote learners

Using information to provide the right supports for learners

Using information to provide the right supports for remote learners


Hybrid learning offers a way of designing for learning that isn’t determined by thinking about location in the first instance. The intention is to enable learners to be able to seamlessly transition between onsite and remote locations as their circumstances or needs require while continuing to receive quality learning experiences.

Personalised levels of support 

Not every student will require the same level of support by the teacher – some will require less, and some will require more. The following research provides a useful representation of this.

From the research: Support communities for remote learning 

Studies have indicated that student success in remote learning depends partially, at least, on their personal support communities. Research by Borup, Graham, West, Archambault and Spring (2020) suggested that a student’s ability to engage successfully in online/remote or blended learning courses increases with support from two types of communities. The course community (school community) includes those associated with the remote programme of learning such as teachers and school leaders. The personal community is made up of people such as parents, grandparents, siblings and friends. The people in these two communities have varied skills and abilities to support student engagement during periods of remote learning. 

The other variable to consider is the ability of the student to engage with their work independently. The diagrams on the next page provide a representation of this.

The yellow circles at the center of the models represent the ability of the students to engage in their learning independently. Obviously, the size of this will vary for each student and in these diagrams one student (diagram 1) has a good ability to engage independently and the other (diagram 2) does not. The two support communities (the school is blue and the personal support community 
is pink) can help students fill gaps between their independent ability and the engagement necessary for successful online learning which is represented by the black outer line. When the ability to work independently is smaller, the other two support communities need to be bigger if academic success is to be the outcome. When the skill and ability of the personal community to support 
the student is limited then the school community support needs to grow to fill the gap (as in the diagram 2) to ensure quality learning is the outcome. 

On the left as diagram 1 is a three ringed circle, with the outer blue circle representing the school, the middle pink circle is for the learner’s personal support community. The centre is a large yellow circle representing the student’s independent capability of reaching the learning goal. On the right as diagram 2 is the same circle but the middle circle is smaller and the inner circle is much smaller.

 Follow the link below to read the full article.

Using support communities during periods of home learning

The above model is useful for teachers to keep in mind at times of hybrid and remote learning and as they prepare for such events. It helps teachers determine the level of help needed for each student. If students are highly independent, then they will need less from the other two support communities. If they have people living at home who are able to provide high levels of support for remote learning, then the input of the school community can be smaller. However, if a child or young person does not have a personal community able to provide the support needed for engagement in remote learning (they might be sick, be essential workers, have a new baby in the house, or lack the confidence and capability to help, for example), then the input of teachers will need to be 
bigger. Each student’s personal community support will vary considerably.

NOTE: the research suggests that for quality learning to occur, it doesn’t matter which support community provides the support, as long as it is provided. Adjusting support to students’ needs

During a period of remote learning, educators will need to adjust the support they provide for each student. Some strategies and approaches are provided that have assisted kaiako and teachers to provide the right levels of support for ākonga.

Knowing students
  • Ability to work independently – knowing each ākonga’s ability to work independently, what will engage them or support them to engage is important as teachers plan programmes of learning for remote learners. Understanding how learners engage (behaviorally, affectively and/or cognitively) will help teachers to determine the kinds of help and support that will be needed. Does the student need time management support? More engaging activities that link to the learner’s passions? More cognitively challenging work? Or instructional support to help them engage cognitively with the work? This is where teachers’ knowledge of students can help.
  • Surveying students and whānau– seeking information from the students, whānau and previous teachers about what supported individual students in previous lockdowns – knowing what engaged them and what didn’t will be helpful to build a picture of supports needed.
  • Knowing the availability of technology, devices and internet– and each student’s likely access to a device and internet prior to remote learning will help ensure school devices are distributed where they are most needed. Developing a distribution plan in advance would be helpful for a quick response and updating it regularly. If devices are not available, then a plan for providing paper-based learning and the delivery of learning packs will be essential.
Knowing students’ personal support communities (whānau, family & friends)

Knowing each student’s (likely) personal support community – Whānau/parents/ friends: Having knowledge (preferably in advance) of the personal support community that will likely be available to a student during a remote learning period will help teachers to quickly ensure that their support goes where it is most needed. Who will be available to support a student’s learning? How confident do they feel? What is their level of capability? 

Layered support

During lockdowns, educators spoke of providing layered support – a certain level of learning support to all students and then providing additional support to students who were less likely to work independently and/or who, for a wide variety of reasons, did not have a strong personal support network to support their remote learning. 

Recording the information in an easily accessible, online format which teachers will be able to access from home, if needed – such as on online student profiles, or a table on Google docs – will aid responsiveness.

Watch this video of Urs Cunningham share Amesbury School’s approaches to supporting their school community during times of lockdown and remote learning. Find out what they learned.

Remote learning: Parent, whānau and ākonga support.

Interview by Urs Cunningham, Principal of Amesbury School

Where might you start?

If you haven’t already:
  • Survey parents/whānau, students and check in with previous teachers (if necessary) to gather information that will support quality remote learning
  • Create a spreadsheet or table to record the information for easy access
  • Put the table online for anywhere, anytime access by all teachers and school leaders (in case they need to take responsibility for your students) and for quick and easy updates
  • Continually update the information and note that information about the personal support community may be very fluid depending on their health/work circumstances etc.
  • Use this information when planning programmes of learning for remote learners
  • Develop a plan for the delivery of devices/paper-based learning packs if necessary

Follow the link below and go to pages 10 – 11 for an example of the kinds of information it would be useful to collect for each student. Provided by Derek Wenmoth

Further Information