The First Step is the Hardest Step in Distance Learning

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”

This is a saying which is believed to have originated from a famous Chinese proverb from the Dao De Jing ascribed to Laozi: every long journey, or difficult task begins with one first step.


Reflections from others

What can we learn from those who have taken first steps in distance learning, where teachers are supporting, encouraging and teaching their learners from a distance through the use of digital technology?


Listen to this episode of the Wired Educator podcast to hear from teacher Stephanie Castle about her experience as an educator in Shanghai, during the initial COVID-19 outbreak in China, about remote instruction and learning as Stephanie and her colleagues have been instructing remotely longer than many other teachers


Effective remote and digital learning” – a concise document by the West Partnership Regional Improvement Collaborative clearly setting out the rationale for digital distance learning, defining terms, making reference to research and experiences elsewhere and providing tips and strategies for educators as well as parents/carers.

Tips for Teaching Online from Lisa Anne Floyd and Steven Floyd

The reflections at this link, and lessons learned from experiences gained, by primary teacher Marc Andrew may be helpful in looking at similarities for teachers in their own circumstances and to support reflection in choices as practice develops.


Michael Ha shared visual infographic posters with advice about distance learning, one poster for the teacher and one for the pupil, providing tips for each.

Michel Girard shared this visual graphic about distance learning – highlighting the opportunities afforded by teachers sharing ideas through a professional learning network such as available using Twitter and following the hashtag #MSFTEduChat

What did we learn about #EdTech from all of those live lessons? Here’s the Top 5 Tips for successful #EdTech use as shared by Simon Baddeley (which he notes “None of them are about apps, platforms or software packages”) and the agreement of MIEExpert Sarah Clark that “A successful online lesson is very similar to a face to face one”

What does research say about distance learning?

This link to an article by Dr Michael Harvey provides references for evidence-based approaches to maximize the impact of online teaching based around the science of learning research centre at the University of Queensland. This highlights a number of approaches including “that a combination of relevant visual images and speaking to the images as prompts greatly enhances learning,” and suggests that in an an online environment “providing learners with predictable presentation formats with text, subheadings, and images in the same locations will improve learner focus.”  The “adoption of a spiral curriculum can also help” where it’s “not simply the repetition of a topic taught. It requires also the deepening of it, with each successive return to concepts building on the previous one.” Dr Michael Harvey can be found on Twitter at @Dr_Harves

What online courses will help prepare for and develop distance learning?

Staying connected with remote learning through Microsoft Teams and Office 365. This free online course will help with understanding the difference between remote learning and online learning, look at evaluating considerations, explore options for continuing the learning and connections with your pupils, how to establish routines and develop workspaces that foster learning, and reflect on how to incorporate your school traditions and develop connections. Sign in with your Glow email address so that you can receive a certificate, badge and transcript of what has been undertaken.

Keeping Students engaged: Building strong student/teacher connections in a remote learning environment – a free online course providing information about the use of Microsoft Teams to develop remote learning experiences, how to create a class Teams call, use of pre-recorded lessons, assessment tools available in remote learning and how Assignments and Grades in Teams support your review process, as well as how OneNote Class Notebook can enhance your they way you share resources with pupils as well as evaluate their understanding. Sign in with your Glow email address so that you can receive a certificate, badge and transcript of what has been undertaken.

Accessibility, Special Education, and online learning: Supporting equity in a remote learning environment –  a free online course about supporting equity in a remote learning environment, providing tips for ways to make content accessible for all pupils, and to help pupils transition to remote learning . Sign in with your Glow email address so that you can receive a certificate, badge and transcript of what has been undertaken.

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