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Published

Mon, 04 May 11:03 AM

Learning outcomes for online vs in-class education

Education Futures’ Neil Selwyn is a contributing author to a rapid research information brief to the commonwealth government, coordinated by Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel AO.

The report is one of a suite of rapid research briefs prepared by the Rapid Research Information Forum, chaired by the Chief Scientist and hosted by the Australian Academy of Science, to provide independent and expert advice on emerging issues arising from COVID-19.

The report provides evidence-based advice on the differential learning outcomes for online education versus in-class education; the factors that moderate effectiveness; and the implications for students in metropolitan, remote, rural and Indigenous communities.

Key findings:

  • The current remote learning arrangements have the potential to result in poorer educational outcomes for almost half of Australian primary and secondary students if continued for an extended period. Students at particular risk of poorer learning outcomes include those from low socioeconomic backgrounds, those with English as a second language, those with special learning needs and those in rural and remote areas.
  • Factors that moderate the effectiveness of remote learning include: a) access to digital technology and the internet; b) home learning environment and family support; c) teacher and student readiness and capability.
  • There is evidence to suggest that ‘blended learning’, combining face-to-face and remote learning, may be as effective as classroom learning for many students.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are likely to face particular challenges with remote learning related to lack of internet service and device availability, reduced opportunities for interaction with Indigenous teacher assistants, and the challenge of incorporating culturally appropriate pedagogies into online resources.

Download the report.

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