My Son Hates Remote Learning

Written by Page Chen, President and CIO

We are living during a global pandemic. What an amazing, and startling, statement to be in a position to say. “Quarantine” is no longer something that applies to individuals or small groups but rather entire nations that are collectively, with their citizens, practicing “Social Distancing”. In the last month, unprecedented numbers of workers, teachers, and learners have set up offices or classrooms in their homes in an attempt to flatten the curve of COVID-19. Young and old alike are seeking ways to create a sense of normal during a time in history that is anything but “normal”.

Thankfully, many of us have access to technology that can make working and learning remotely an option. But for those who are unfamiliar with meeting software such as Zoom or how to organize an online classroom, teaching under these circumstances is a challenge. My 76 year old father attempted to preach this past week via a congregational conference call with…let’s say…mixed results. The challenge we face is two fold: we need tools and technology that allow us to stay connected during this time. But tools alone are not enough. We also need effective strategies in place so we can transition from staying connected to actually facilitating true remote learning. And I fear the consequences if we don’t.

Yesterday, my 15 year old son, Evan, who I don’t think really knew what I did for a living until now, announced that he hates online learning and never wants to have to do online learning again. This from a kid who can spend hours playing games and programming robots. As a parent, I am grateful his school had a Distance Learning Plan and was able to transition to an online format. But its focus is on having the tools in place, arguably too many of them, and not a cohesive instructional strategy that reduces learner frustration and persuades engagement. So the question becomes this: with so many learners thrusted into remote learning this last month, will an absence of proven strategies for online teaching and learning result in a generation of students being left with a bad taste for remote learning?

Now don’t get me wrong, I fully believe ALL teachers, trainers, and even pastors like my dad are working tirelessly to do their best during these trying times and I realize most were “gently” persuaded into this online teaching for the first time. I am also aware that their inbox is likely bombarded by people, coworkers, social media feeds, and community members who, out of good intention and a genuine desire to help, have thrown all kinds of useful apps, posts, links and tips in their direction. But allow me to add to the chorus.

My advice is this: It’s important to remember that the use of a virtual classroom alone doesn’t create an engaging learning experience. Just like how loading a video and a PDF into a course shell doesn’t mean you have now trained your workforce online. A well-designed learning management system is essential to an effective online learning experience.

If you feel overwhelmed by this prospect, there is help available. The team at Remote Learner is passionate about supporting our clients in delivering high-quality remote learning experiences for k-12, colleges and universities, and the workplace. We understand that, right now, finding quick solutions is critical. But we are here to support you and your organization for the long haul too. We can help make sure you have solid strategies in place to be prepared for unexpected increases in the need for remote learning and to ensure it is a positive experience for your learners.

NOTE: For instructors who suddenly find themselves facing the new adventure of teaching entirely online, we’re introducing the Remote Learner Teacher’s Lounge – a virtual meeting place where online instructors (new and veteran) can come together to simply talk and share the challenges and opportunities they’re facing. After all, there is no better support for someone new to online instruction than from those in our own community.

Every Tuesday and Thursday until it’s no longer needed, the Teacher’s Lounge will be open for one hour via Zoom at

Each Tuesday and Thursday will have two sessions:

  • 8:00 a.m. Eastern / 7:00 a.m. Central
  • 8:00 a.m. Mountain / 7:00 a.m. Pacific

All online instructors are welcome!