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Online Learning vs. Emergency Remote Teaching

by Steve McCabe
15 Apr 2020

In response to the threat of COVID-19, everyone who can move their work online has been encouraged to do so. Instead of meeting my personal trainer at the gym a few mornings a week before work, we’re video chatting instead.

Sure, home workout videos have existed for decades, and I’m sure everyone remembers the daggy fitness clips that dominated the 80s and 90s. However, exercising over a video call is wildly different to the experience I was getting at the gym.

It’s been a tricky transition – especially when I can just feign technical difficulties if I really don’t want to do the burpees my trainer insists on! But though I’m finding myself less motivated than I would be in a normal environment, we’re both doing our best to adjust to the new climate.

In much the same way pre-recorded fitness videos are fundamentally different from a real-time personal training session, courses offered remotely in response to this unforeseen crisis are not the same as well-planned online learning. This is particularly true in schools, where educators are being tossed in the deep end without an adequate understanding of online pedagogies.

Though it can be seen as a fantastic opportunity to make a shift towards effective online or blended learning, the rapid speed at which this change is expected to happen is unprecedented and really quite challenging.  

Recently, EDUCAUSE review published an article that referred to the phase schools are currently transitioning into “emergency remote teaching”. This phenomenon, the piece explains, needs to be differentiated from typical online learning.  

Those of us who have built comprehensive digital programs over the years know that effective online learning takes a monumental amount of planning and development. Learning is not just a cognitive process – it’s a social one, and it requires the establishment of a community that promotes engagement. In many cases during these hasty shifts to online learning, it is this level of preparation and design that will be absent in schools.

Currently, Mighty Minds provides thousands of students across Australia with comprehensive online education covering English, maths, science and cognitive skills. Our exceptional technology infrastructure and years of experience give us a high level of expertise when it comes to meeting educators’ needs of providing instructional continuity in an online environment – especially in an emergency.

Through the Mighty Minds Portal, teachers and students alike (years 7 to 10 anywhere in Australia, or years 7 to 12 in Queensland) are provided with a wealth of resources and services to facilitate online learning. This includes everything from lessons, extensive reporting and online testing options to student tracking, theory and practise questions. Our generous user licence means your school owns the resources and all their updates for life, and our budget-friendly subscription options make our programs accessible for everyone. 

If you’re interested in getting your school set up on the Mighty Minds Portal, feel free to contact us today! We are particularly interested in helping state high schools get ready for Term Two and beyond, and would love to assist with planning what an effective online learning system might look like at your school. Contact us today at, or call up for a phone chat (or a video call!) on +617 5689 1086. 

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