In March 2020, when schools shut down during the pandemic, students’ experiences with remote learning varied, and some media portrayals labeled it a failure. At ClassLink, we provide educational leaders with student digital usage data. So we asked, what does the data from this time period tell us about access and engagement for students? Our findings paint a positive and promising picture of what happened and the potential for successful remote learning in the future.
In this blog series, we will share real school experiences, along with guidance for how you can apply their success to make remote learning more effective.
We will examine:
- Transitioning between onsite and remote learning
- Improving student access to resources
- Increasing student engagement
- Using data to find access and engagement issues
Digging into the data
If you're new to ClassLink, here's a quick primer. ClassLink provides single sign-on access to all of a school’s online resources from any device along with usage analytics of those resources. Having this usage data helps leaders make informed decisions about their purchases, strategies, and training.
As schools using ClassLink transitioned to remote learning, leaders relied on usage analytics more than ever before. Schools using ClassLink could see who was using online learning resources, how often, and for how long.
To better understand how 10 million students using ClassLink handled the transition to remote learning, we dug into our usage data across all our schools.
Specifically, we analyzed daily unique student logins (the number of unique students who logged onto ClassLink each day) and total student logins (the total number of times students logged onto ClassLink each day).
We found some uplifting news. When we compared the total number of unique logins to ClassLink before and after the transition to remote learning—we discovered student access and engagement levels remained high.
Schools using ClassLink made a quick shift to remote learning
While there was a short transition period where usage dipped, schools using ClassLink moved quickly into remote learning. Once remote learning began, students not only accessed digital learning in high numbers, but they remained engaged with their resources throughout the entire remote learning period.
Here’s what the data tells us:
- Access to remote learning picked up quickly after a transition period and followed a stable pattern through the end of the school year.
- Four weeks into the remote learning period, student usage was 90 percent of pre-COVID-19 levels.
Weekend and after-hour logins skyrocketed
Our data showed a significant increase in weekend and after-hour logins during the remote learning period. Over three times as many students logged in during weekends compared to Pre-COVID-19. Usage was particularly high on Sundays, the most popular weekend day.
Access to summary reports like this, and the drill-down details, has helped schools accommodate and support students working on their learning outside of normal school hours. One school used this data to set policies for attendance that allowed students to complete work over the weekend. This flexibility provided a personalized learning experience for students and families. That's just one idea. We'll touch on more ways to use this data in the next couple of blog posts.
What it all means
While these findings represent trends across many schools, a few caveats are worth mentioning. First, these trends are not indicative of all students or all schools and should not be generalized as such. Instead, they offer a positive picture of the experiences with remote learning in the spring of 2020 by schools using ClassLink. Second, this data does not tell us how usage is linked to outcomes and achievement. However, engagement and opportunities to learn are undoubtedly necessary components in any student learning experience.
Finally, while we believe these findings are useful, we know ClassLink alone wasn't responsible for successful transitions to remote learning for the schools we serve. Schools succeeded because of many factors, including motivated leadership, entrepreneurial teachers, and engaged students and households. Great teachers, surrounded with great resources, have always made the difference, which was never more true than this past spring.
Stay tuned for our next installment in this series. We'll dig deeper into the best practices leaders shared for improving engagement and access during remote learning.