Professor: Remote learning has slowed down students' grasp of information

An empty classroom.
An empty classroom. Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

University of Tartu educational technology professor Margus Pedaste said students on remote learning grasp information about a tenth slower than they would in contact classes.

Exam results show that the analysis, interpretation and research planning skills have decrease 10-15 percent, Pedaste, who analyzed end-of-year level exams for fourth-grade and seventh-grade students, told ERR.

At the same time, he is not completely sure the drop stems from remote learning. Pedaste said no one knows exactly how much remote learning decreases academic success. He noted that remote learning might not be an entirely bad thing as it has forced teachers to reassess their methods.

"We have noticed more attention on general skills compared to earlier, which actually corresponds with Estonia's educational strategy for 2035, meaning moving from a more substantive approach to a student-based approach and moving from achieving specific results to developing general skills. Digital skills are supplemented with learning skills and work ethic, which are also very important. This means an ability to motivate, plan and manage actions," Pedaste said.

The professor noted that these skills have become very important during the pandemic, as people cannot be around each other as much anymore and students must study alone.

Tallinn city government is set to discuss on Tuesday if schools should continue with partial remote learning or not.

Pedaste said schools in Estonia should be kept open as much as possible, because the current generation of teachers is not skilled at remote learning yet.

"The issue we have is that teachers mostly have 20 years or more of experience, but they only have experience in teaching in contact classes. Now, in this situation, we have needed to test new methods for remote learning and the same methods used for contact classes have been tested, but they do not always work," the educational technologist said.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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