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DoE provides e-learning guidance for Northern Ireland schools


Mark Say Managing Editor


Northern Ireland’s Department of Education (DoE) has published guidance for its schools on approaches to remote learning.

Overhead view of boy at table with laptop

It includes the need to use multimedia as much as possible to provide feedback through e-learning tools.

The publication of the guidance comes in response to the physical closure of schools during the coronavirus pandemic, and with a recognition that they had little time to respond and plan carefully for how to approach the process. The DoE also expects that ‘blended learning’ – combining classroom sessions with remote learning, will play a significant part in the next academic year.

The document outlines a number of principles of remote learning that will have a relevance beyond Northern Ireland. They include that schools should not expect to make similar progress to taught lessons in any given period. It will be necessary to identify key learning priorities and take a pragmatic approach to delivering the curriculum

It says schools should aim to use a wide range of platforms, including those with a strong multimedia element, as these can provide different ways of explaining concepts.

The DoE has not prescribed any specific e-learning tools, saying they should vary according to pupil profiles; but the document does point to Northern Ireland’s C2K system as an appropriate platform with a range of tools.

Feedback features

The guidance also says that teachers should also use the tools to provide feedback to classes and individuals, as soon as possible and being as specific as possible. This can be through email, comments on photos of pupils’ work, showcasing their work in a daily video message, and running online quizzes to give feedback on incorrect answers.

It extends into a range of other areas including the length of online sessions, the potential for getting pupils to work together in clusters, and the need to make judgements in monitoring and assessing their performance.

Education Minister Peter Weir said: “I hope that schools and teachers will find the guidance provided by the department helpful to support pupils’ learning.  It is not intended to be prescriptive but to support schools as they develop and refine their practice around remote learning. 

“My department, working with the Education Authority and other key stakeholders, will add to the guidance during the coming weeks and months.  In the coming weeks, we will publish a number of case studies to provide opportunities for schools to learn from each other.”

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