On Friday 13 March, we launched the Remote School (Etäkoulu) campaign to help schools switch to distance learning during the COVID19 pandemic. Schools could use the Vuolearning learning environment for free via the campaign site Etäkoulu.fi. More than 5,500 users, who have already created over 650 courses, registered in just a few weeks.
Here, we summarize the key findings of a survey of teachers who used the service.
The service has been particularly helpful for sharing materials and monitoring learning
The learning environment is mainly used for sharing materials and monitoring students’ performances. Teachers are also interested in new learning technology and Vuolearning has given some of them an opportunity to try out new teaching methods.
Sharing of materials and assignments, as well as monitoring the assignment submissions, were the most useful everyday functionalities.
Could you describe, in your own words, what you use the learning environment for?
"I use it to share exercises and a video meeting link with group members. Each week, I also add my own videos and challenges for group members"
"I share each day's lessons as a course in Vuolearning."
"I post remote language teaching assignments there on a daily basis. It's easy to post videos and pictures to clarify the subject, followed by short assignments."
"I am using the learning environment for remote teaching during the emergency situation. I share materials and create assignments through the service. I check and evaluate submitted assignments."
Collaboration between teachers was also highlighted;
"I created lesson-content demos for teachers at our school, who created their own teaching content and shared it with their groups based on my instructions"
How did you find the service?
Most Remote School users began using the service independently, without separate training. In general, the service was easy to introduce;
People were satisfied with the service. Our Remote School users give it 4.6 out of 5;
How has the service benefited you?
I can neatly gather all my material in one place. I can also easily direct my students to their own courses through a single link.
It was much easier to share material, and to monitor performances and provide feedback.
It enabled me to provide remote learning quickly and in a reasonable way
It’s easier to follow students' work than with many other methods.
Visually inspiring. Easy to use. Easy to monitor students' progress.
I can distribute all my learning material directly to younger students; they don’t have to copy links or search other sites for videos etc. It’s really useful that everything is in one place.
I can target assignments and tests at students in real time, get the answers immediately, and use both direct and manual evaluation.
Ideas for product development
Users were generally able to adopt the Vuolearning environment independently, by experimenting and using the online user guide. Only a few participated in the open training.
This is different from our standard service model, where new users participate in initial training, where the learning environment is learned to use together. Perhaps the biggest surprise finding of the survey was the low need for user training;
We also asked for ideas on developing the service. Most of the replies indicated that the service covered all their needs, but there were also some new features suggested, such as participation in discussions through pictures and videos, and making video or voice calls.
Did you wish for a feature that was not yet included in the learning environment? What feature?
I loved the platform, because it's so easy and visually versatile, allowing you to share videos/images/links. I think I would benefit from being able to attach an image/video to a chat.
Real-time interaction has to be handled via other tools. If we could take video calls through the service, it would meet all our needs.
We’d need an audio chat function for language teaching
Do you have any other feedback in mind?
The responses showed that users would love to have digital tools on a daily basis, but some doubt that their schools would allocate resources for them;
I would love to continue using the service, but our schools are not about to buy external learning environments. :(
Thank you so much for the free use of your service! Our school would not have introduced a fee-based service.
Support for distance learning during the pandemic was highly appreciated
Many thanks for the free platform during the corona crisis. I felt that I chose well in the difficult situation
THANKS for this:) And your phone service was really quick and friendly. I was amazed to receive a message on Sunday about your update — I thought I'd send a message for Monday, saying that I couldn’t access the platform — I really didn’t expect an answer.
It works perfectly!
We received feedback on remote learning via our customer service as well as the survey. We have already progressed some ideas to the product development stage.
Our heartfelt thanks to all the remote teachers and students!
Distance school website: www.etäkoulu.fi
See the online report for more results from the survey (in Finnish)
Fast start with distance learning — 5 steps to go online with your course
Online trainer’s checklist — things to check out before publishing an e-learning course
How to succeed in online course creation – tips for your first e-learning course