Powering the Global Education Conversation: About edCircuit

Building the 4Cs During Remote Learning

The rising infection rates in the current pandemic is forcing many school districts across the nation to start with a remote learning model in the fall. For teachers who had primarily taught in person earlier, structuring their learning to fit the new model can seem like an intimidating task. 

Beyond the challenges of understanding how to use technology tools effectively for instruction, there is an additional risk. 21st century skills like creativity, critical thinking, or collaboration might not get enough attention, which will impact students’ overall development. These skills aren’t built in isolation. Instead, students develop these skills while interacting with their peers and teachers. 

How do we ensure that students continue to build these crucial skills when learning occurs remotely?

Community of Inquiry

Effective remote learning requires the development of healthy communities as outlined in the community of inquiry framework. Three essential elements – teaching presence, social presence, and cognitive presence – interact dynamically in the learning process.

Cognitive presence is the extent to which learners can construct meaning through reflection or dialog. Social presence is the ability of participants to bring their unique personalities to the community, so others view them as “real people.” Social presence directly impacts social-emotional learning (SEL) and indirectly supports cognitive presence when learners discuss ideas with each other. Teacher presence has two important roles – designing the content and activities for learners and facilitating the social and cognitive presence to achieve learning goals. 

The framework also applies to 21st century skills, and the figure below shows how the 4Cs map to the framework.

Communication and Collaboration

The first step in designing an effective remote learning experience is to set the right climate by focusing on healthy communication and collaboration. A good climate powers the social and cognitive presence and improves learning outcomes. Here are some tips to improve communication and collaboration among students: 

• In a remote setting, students don’t get an opportunity to get to know their peers organically. This is especially true for students new to t