Online learning – beware of ‘Zoom fatigue’ and burnout of learners and staff

Online learning barriers from March may have disappeared, but some colleges and independent training providers are still not using the right systems – and risk learner burnout and “Zoom fatigue”. Following the latest UK lockdown announcements James Earl, Executive Director of Sales at The Skills Network highlights the implications this will bring for further education in the UK, and the importance of working with the right online partners.


Now that online learning will once again be the norm for colleges and universities, a blend of online classroom and online content which is engaging will be key, especially for learners.


On the other hand, organisations should review their online strategies to support their staff’s wellbeing, by partnering with companies who have been providing online learning for a number of years, with tried and tested systems, as well as tailored online content.


Shouldn’t we be letting our lecturers do what they do best and not let them worry about technicalities? Shouldn’t we also be supporting them so they can deliver their classes the best way possible, and give them flexibility so they do not have to worry about transiting class materials from online to real life every time there’s a new lockdown announcement?


It is also critical to ensure the tracking and assessment runs smoothly by adopting learner management systems, especially with the announcement of examinations that could turn into assignments and assessments. There are valid and reliable assessment options now open to us through technology; it’s just a question of finding your right online learning partner.

“Our sector’s willingness to work towards our common goals positively does pay off – but we have to get this review right”

NASBTT has today responded to the Department for Education (DfE) Initial Teacher Training (ITT) market review policy paper and announcement on a new Institute of Teaching


Executive Director Emma Hollis said: “We are pleased that the ITT market review expert group plan to work closely with the sector in developing and testing thinking as the ITT review progresses. We have been invited to meet the group later this month and look forward to being part of an open, collaborative discussion. We expect this discussion to include the new Institute of Teaching, which we broadly welcome in terms of its focus on evidence-based approaches in teacher education, as this will further support high-quality ITT. We note that when the Institute is at full capacity it will train around 1,000 ITT trainees annually. Of course, every year 35,000 trainee teachers and their mentors must be trained. In order to achieve this, multiple ITT providers, of all shapes and sizes, are needed. 


Since we were formed in 2000, NASBTT – and our staff, Trustees and members – have acquired arguably unrivalled experience in school-based ITT and, as per the review’s aim, we all want to ensure the sector continues to provide consistently high-quality training, in line with the Core Content Framework, Early Career Framework and Ofsted ITE inspection framework, all of which we have been involved in developing and implementing in partnership with the DfE and some members of the review expert group. Ahead of the review’s conclusion, we will represent the views of all our members: SCITTs, School Direct Lead Schools, Teaching Schools and HEIs, and underpin these views with the evidence of the impact of their provision.  


Our sector’s willingness to work towards our common goals positively does pay off. It was a result of this trust that we were able to work with the DfE on a number of key policy adaptations during the last academic year and into this. This included the agreement that QTS could be rewarded based on a trainee’s trajectory, the trust given to providers to ascertain who needed retrieval placements, and the additional funding that we helped secure to support those placements. It also included the relaxations to the ITT criteria, something we worked extremely hard on with the Department, as well as the assurances that we were able to secure that trainee teachers could be classed as critical workers, allowing them to work in schools and providing reassurance to placement school headteachers. We are very positive about working in partnership with the review expert group. 


Clearly there is a lot at stake with this review, and we have to get this right. As we have previously said, by every objective measure, the ITT sector is performing exceptionally well. Ofsted inspections have 99% of providers rated good or better, so on that metric alone existing provision must be judged to be high quality. Whilst, as with everything, progress is to be welcomed, the ITT market is not fundamentally flawed – evolution, not revolution, is the way forward.”