Finding the Silver Lining in 2020 — 10 Developments in Online and Remote Education That Make Us Hopeful
By coursetune Team
September 14, 2020
Education Silver Linings in 2020

Coursetune CEO, Maria Andersen, Ph. D discusses 10 online and remote education silver linings to come out of 2020.

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Between the pandemic, civil unrest, and natural disasters, the year 2020 has been a challenge for everyone. But sometimes, when we get to the other side of a the most challenging times, there are silver linings. Sometimes major world unrest pushes society forward in ways that would otherwise have taken decades or centuries. Last year, if you had told me that the whole world would have simultaneously figured out how to live without air travel and run conferences online, I would have laughed. And yet, here we are, engaging in behaviors that are going to benefit the environment even though that’s not what we set out to do!

Within education, we also have some silver linings that we will see on the other side of this crisis. Hopefully, you can look forward to some of these changes with me.

10 things to be hopeful about in Education

1. Internet and technology access has become a top priority in education and in state government. From telecom structures, borrowable WIFI hotspots, mobile WIFI vans that can park in neighborhoods, and laptops for students, we’ve seen huge efforts to address the inequity in technology access that has been festering for so long.

2. Remote learning ensures that students who could not physically make it to a campus on a given day (missed bus, sick family member, childcare) will have an opportunity to learn.

Boy With Notebook

3. Remote learning is a great way for an educator who needs to stay home or attend a conference to still cover their class in real-time with little or no disruption in schedule to the students. Now teachers and faculty all over the world will know how to coordinate remote learning and hopefully carry these skills through to normal teaching after the pandemic is over. 

4. With remote and online learning, educators cannot rely on charisma – they really have to get the pedagogical principles right. This means everyone is paying more attention to learning about pedagogical principles and planning their curriculum and strategies for learning and assessment.

Teacher working with online student

5. Assessment is getting a big shakeup. Testing is a tried-and-true easy assessment, when done in person. Move testing online and it becomes a completely different animal. We are rethinking why we test, what we test, and how we test. It is about time this happened.


6. Educators are being given a lot of new freedom to “explore what works” – never has there been a year with more flexibility to bend the normal rules for how we teach and assess. We are simultaneously running millions of educational experiments this year and we need only to learn from the results of these experiments.

Socializing at School during COVID

7. People (kids, parents, and college students) are now recognizing that socialization is a huge service provided by schools. Whether it be college students or first-graders, young people want to be in spaces together and schools provide the hub where this happens. When Silicon Valley talks about converting education to something run by “robot tutors in the sky” it ignores a very necessary role of education – providing the social space for students to grow and develop with each other.

8. We are recognizing that some kids are actually thriving in remote learning and online learning environments. For students who have a great deal of anxiety about in-person school, they are getting the opportunity to learn in safer spaces. For a student who feels awkward, bullied, or isolated in the in-person classroom, the separation between physical space and learning space has given them a chance to thrive in an educational space. Let’s hope this benefit of remote learning gains more recognition and stays past the end of the pandemic. We can have online school, remote school, and in-person school options in all states.

Teachers upgrading their technology skills

9. Teachers and professors are upgrading their technology skills. It seems a well-acknowledged problem that education typically lags about a decade behind the business world in terms of technology skills. The year 2020 will be known as the year when we closed a decade-wide gap in one year. Whether sharing content or building assignments using the LMS, grading digitally, creating websites, using shared documents, or hosting remote meetings, educators have seriously upped their skills this year.Teacher focusing on remote learner

10. Education has been forced to focus on the learner and their competency. With a myriad of options for engagement (online, remote, hyflex, and in-person), the equalizer between students is whether they can demonstrate competency in the subject area. Educators have to engage learners where they are at (both physically and at their skill-level). This means we have to pay attention to the individual, their needs, and their progress. It is more time-consuming. It is more intensive. It will likely put pressure on education for smaller class sizes. And ultimately, for educators, it will be more rewarding to track and celebrate the individual wins for the individual students we get to know better.

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