A recent TES article debating whether live teaching is actually ‘gold standard’ online teaching has got us on our soapbox (you can read the full article here https://www.tes.com/news/coronavirus-schools-online-learning-are-live-lessons-really-better-recorded-ones).

Think back to your pre-Covid teaching, the days when you had a classroom and you taught ‘traditional’ lessons.

Imagine if you taught a series of lessons, had just 2 or 3 children engaging and the progress of all learners, especially the outliers, was minimal at best.

You might feel you’d got something wrong with your planning or anxious that you’ve lost the art of engaging teaching. Either way, in a classroom environment, you’d know that there was something seriously wrong and make swift changes to address it.

So how is it, almost a year down the line, that low engagement and poor outcomes are acceptable on Teams or Zoom?

The fact that it is accepted is all the more confusing when you factor in how hard live lessons are to deliver. On Twitter recently, one teacher described the experience of live teaching as ‘soul destroying; like shouting into a vacuum’. Another added ‘Whatever you think you can deliver in a live lesson, halve it, then halve it again’.

This is the reality of live online teaching; difficult delivery, low engagement and poor outcomes.

So why are live lessons still seen by many as the gold standard in lockdown teaching?

As former school leaders we understand that Teams and Zoom lessons feel most familiar in terms of delivery methodology. Transferring much used pedagogies to new mediums feels safe; recognisable. But surely, this can’t be the only reason why ineffective live teaching continues in most schools?

Possibly it’s because it was the obvious, go-to solution at the beginning and the regular DfE guidance updates are preventing leaders from looking for solutions that actually work? Maybe it’s our natural human desire for contact; to see, hear and interact with others? Could it be because these tools are free? Perhaps it’s because it’s what everyone else is doing and that makes it feel safe?

I doubt it’s because Gavin says it’s best and therefore it’s more easily justifiable to Ofsted, but whatever the reason(s), it’s certainly not the best way to engage any child in learning.

We’re not decrying schools. We know how exceptionally hard staff are working, and that everyone is trying their very best with the tools they know are available. It’s just that we understand that online learning can be so much more than classroom delivery through a screen. Giving your students the ability to receive personalised teaching, view the lesson multiple times on any device and go at their own pace will embed learning.

Live teaching doesn’t facilitate this; you’re most capable are bored, your middle ability learn a little (if they are still listening) and those with the greatest needs are totally left behind.

I know that many wait for the EEF to announce what’s effective and what’s not. But too many learning opportunities are being lost, so I’m going to speak the obvious truth – pre-recorded teaching videos, targeted to specific learners and viewed in child-friendly, carefully structured ways, are the only way to ensure high engagement and outcomes for every learner.

I know this because I’ve spent the last 10 years working with leading Deaf, mainstream and special schools to develop a service that  improves educational outcomes for all using pre-recorded video.

If you are now seeing the limitations of live teaching and understand the benefits of pre-recorded video, you need to book a demo and see YouTeachMe.  It will revolutionise learning across your whole school community now, and post-Covid too.