From its humble beginnings more than a century ago when instructors relied on tools like educational films, mailed lessons and radio broadcasts, remote learning has been transformed. Today’s remote learning tools include web-based resources and other technologies that provide students with information and experiences that can expand their knowledge and develop their skills.

But, along with its educational possibilities, remote learning presents challenges for students and teachers alike. Concerns about issues ranging from maintaining students’ motivation to accommodating their different learning styles can stymie efforts to expand remote learning opportunities and the positive experiences they can provide.

So, what is the status of remote learning in today’s educational environment? And what remote learning resources are available to help ensure that students and teachers can overcome potential obstacles — and take advantage of the benefits that this ever-evolving form of instruction can offer?

Remote Learning Statistics

Before exploring the many remote learning resources available to teachers and students today, it’s important to understand what remote learning is and how prevalent it is. Once provided by only a small percentage of school districts in the United States, remote learning emerged as a primary means of instruction when stay-at-home and social distancing restrictions were implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What Is Remote Learning?

Remote learning refers to instruction in which the student is not physically present in a classroom. The technological tools available in today’s educational environment offer a variety of options for including remote learning in instruction. Most remote learning takes place online.

The two main types of remote learning are:

  • Synchronous, which provides real-time instruction and interaction
  • Asynchronous, which offers self-paced learning without live instruction

Remote Learning Benefits

Remote learning can offer students and instructors some key academic and social benefits. Following are three ways that remote learning can have a positive impact:

  1. Reducing social anxiety: Students who struggle with anxiety are able to learn without having to navigate social challenges, including bullying.
  2. Protecting against sickness: Students’ and educators’ exposure to communicable illnesses is limited.
  3. Promoting students’ autonomy: Students can absorb and engage with material at their own pace.

Resources: Remote Learning Statistics

The prevalence of remote learning has lessened with the loosening of pandemic-related restrictions that often prohibited classroom learning. But the continued use of this type of learning to supplement in-person instruction and address staffing shortages proves that remote learning is here to stay.

Following are some remote learning resources that provide statistics about a host of topics, from the popularity of this style of instruction to its use in schools:

  • Deloitte Center for Technology, Media and Telecommunications Survey: This 2023 report reveals that 52 percent of remote learners would like to continue this type of education all or some of the time.
  • Educators for Excellence Report: The results of this 2022 Educators for Excellence survey show that 86 percent of school districts were experiencing problems filling teaching positions, a scenario that has led some schools to turn to remote learning options to bridge these staffing gaps.
  • National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Dashboards: These summaries of NCES findings reveal that more than 40 percent of U.S. public schools offered students remote learning opportunities on a full-time or part-time basis during the 2021-2022 academic year. By December 2022, just 14 percent of these schools for students in kindergarten through 12th grade offered remote learning.
  • Straits Research Overview: This market and business research analysis shows that the size of the remote learning market, including tools facilitating online assessments and video sessions, was $111.6 billion in 2022. By 2031, the report projects, market share will be $321.2 billion.

Challenges of Remote Learning

Remote learning isn’t without its challenges, which include both technological concerns as well as social and academic obstacles. Following are some of the potential challenges of remote learning for students and teachers:

Student Engagement

On their own and outside of a classroom setting, students learning remotely may find it difficult to maintain their focus and motivation. They might struggle to feel engaged when they don’t have face-to-face oversight and interaction — and this lack of engagement can affect their academic performance. A 2023 literature review in the International Journal of Educational Research Open found disengagement to be among the common causes of poor school performance.

Technological Issues

Accessing the internet and digital devices can be a challenge for some students. A 2021 report from NCES notes that, during 2019, as many as 19 percent of fourth-graders and 12 percent of eighth-graders in U.S. public schools lacked access to the technology typically required for remote learning. And even when educators and students have access to the internet and tools like tablets and videoconferencing, they may experience technical glitches and online safety concerns that they don’t have the resources to address.

Learning Styles

Each student has their own style of learning, and some absorb the contents of a lesson best by doing hands-on activities and interacting with others. For those who learn best when they are doing activities while surrounded by other students and with an instructor nearby, completing course material remotely can be challenging.

Social Isolation

While those who suffer from social anxiety may benefit from the reduction in interpersonal interaction that remote learning provides, for many students this isolation poses mental health challenges. In fact, making connections with others is a key step the Mayo Clinic recommends to children and adults to protect their mental health.

3 Key Resources for Remote Learners

A number of resources are available that can help students learning remotely to engage with their material, be productive and collaborate with other students. Following are three useful resources that provide remote learning materials, guidelines and tools that benefit students and teachers:

1. U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education provides a variety of remote learning resources for students and teachers — from events and competitions related to STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math) for students outside the classroom, to hands-on activities that teach about the science behind food and exercise. Following are some of the items that teachers and students can access to assist with their remote learning activities:

2. We Are Teachers

We Are Teachers, a community of educators sharing instructional resources and ideas, offers a list of more than 30 virtual learning platforms, which can serve as helpful tools for remote instruction.

The site describes and links to platforms that can assist educators and students with tasks like posting and accessing interactive lessons and communicating with each other. We Are Teachers cautions educators to first ensure that any tools they select adhere to their school district’s policies. Following are some of the featured platforms:

  • Edpuzzle: Teachers can use Edpuzzle’s selected video clips to create an interactive lesson and then track students’ progress on the work.
  • Habyts: Educators can access a tool from Habyts that allows them to control students’ screens during remote instruction, to encourage them to focus and be accountable.
  • Seesaw: Seesaw’s tools facilitate communication among teachers, students and families, allowing students to display what they’re learning and providing tools that assist with instruction.
  • Wooclap: The instructional aids provided by Wooclap encourage interactive learning by attracting students’ attention and then measuring their understanding of the material presented.

3. Common Sense Education

A nonprofit organization that helps students and teachers navigate the digital world, Common Sense Education provides a list of online tools that assist with remote learning. Additionally, the site provides a variety of materials that address the needs of educators who are developing remote instruction curricula and plans, such as how to facilitate collaboration and how to assess students’ progress.

Among the remote learning resources that Common Sense Education provides are the following:

More Resources: Remote Learning Tips

A variety of resources offer tips and tricks to help students and teachers overcome remote learning’s challenges and maximize its benefits. Among the best materials are the following:

Explore Remote Learning Resources for Students and Teachers

Remote learning allows students to take advantage of many of the benefits that education offers while in a setting other than the classroom. It does present challenges to students and teachers, however, making it important that educators explore the many resources available to them that offer remote learning information, strategies and tools.

By equipping themselves with the right materials and knowledge regarding effective remote instruction, teachers and learners can help ensure they are prepared to get the most out of this style of education when it is used to supplement or replace traditional classroom learning.

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