Blog: Adapting pedagogy for virtual learning

Empowering Education in the Digital Realm: A Practical Guide for Secondary School Teachers

By Jess Power, Head of RGC Online

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the education landscape has undergone a profound transformation, shifting towards virtual learning. This change has compelled many educators to reassess and adapt their pedagogical methods to effectively engage pupils across various learning environments, including remote and online teaching. While initially driven by necessity due to school closures, many institutions have recognised the effectiveness of online learning in reaching a wider variety of pupils, and are continuing to support this model.

This transition is not without its challenges, including technological barriers, digital fatigue, and discrepancies in access to resources among pupils. Schools are realising that to ensure the effectiveness of their "digital pedagogy", they must adapt traditional teaching methods for an online environment. However, amidst these hurdles, the virtual setting offers unique opportunities, such as enhanced flexibility in learning schedules, broader access to diverse educational resources, and the ability to foster global connections. A successful transition to virtual learning necessitates a shift towards pupil-centred approaches; encouraging self-directed learning by providing autonomy within structured frameworks empowers pupils to take ownership of their education. For example, on Google Classroom, educators can assign project-based tasks that foster collaboration and critical thinking while tailoring content to align with pupil interests.

At RGC Online, we utilise the Google Workspace for Education suite of tools for its intuitive interface, effective sharing capabilities, and seamless cross-integration, facilitating impactful learning experiences. We conduct live lessons via Google Meet, develop digital textbooks using Google Docs, and host class websites where pupils can access a variety of multimedia resources. Exploring innovative tools such as Virtual Reality (VR) through Google Expeditions, Augmented Reality (AR) with Google ARCore, and gamification using Google Forms or interactive YouTube videos further enhances engagement and deepens pupils' understanding of course content.

Fostering collaboration and peer-to-peer interaction in virtual spaces is key to building a sense of community online and enriches the learning experience for pupils. Group projects on Google Drive, online forums on Google Groups, and dedicated virtual study groups on Google Meet further facilitate knowledge sharing and social interaction among pupils.

Addressing the diverse needs of pupils in virtual settings requires a multifaceted approach. Implementing differentiated instruction strategies on Google Classroom enables educators to tailor teaching methods, pace, and content to accommodate varying learning styles and abilities. Additionally, adapting teaching methodologies for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) involves incorporating accessibility features, such as voice typing in Google Docs, closed captioning and transcription in Google Meet, and options for adjusting font sizes, colours, or screen contrast.

Continuous adaptation and evolution of pedagogical approaches based on pupil feedback and performance are paramount. Iterative improvements to online delivery, driven by insights gained from pupil engagement and outcomes, ensure the relevance and effectiveness of virtual teaching practices. Professional development is critical to equip educators with the necessary skills for effective digital pedagogy. Programmes such as the Google Certified Educator allow educators to explore tools in detail at their own pace, providing numerous examples of effective digital practices and how tools can be leveraged for engaging learning. Vibrant online discussion groups and in-person events like BETT and local TeachMeets are also invaluable for showcasing technologies, sharing best practices, and fostering collaboration among educators.

In embracing adaptable pedagogy and leveraging digital tools effectively, educators can navigate the complexities of virtual learning with confidence. By prioritising pupil-centred approaches, fostering collaboration, and embracing continuous professional development, we empower pupils to thrive in the ever-evolving digital landscape.