8 Ideas to Consider for Remote Learning (Part 1)

George Couros
8 min readAug 25, 2020

In my newly released, self-paced course, “Developing the Innovator’s Mindset Through Remote, Face-to-Face, and Blended Learning,” I have been sharing ideas and strategies that you can use in a remote, blended, or face-to-face setting. As a preview of some of the ideas I have shared, I shared insights on the following In the previous three posts:

1. Ideas for building relationships with students in a remote learning setting.

2. Empowering students in a remote learning setting.

3. Meeting the social-emotional needs of our students in a remote learning environment.

In this post, I am going to revisit an old post of mine and provide some questions to consider and an idea or two connected to what is shared.

If you want to learn more about the course, check out the main page for the course here.

The other day, I saw the following tweet shared by Bruce Mandeville referencing an old post of mine from 2013:

To know that a post was written for “today’s classroom” in 2013, still resonates with others in 2020, even during a pandemic, was something I appreciated. No matter the situation, I think the ideas in the post and image still matter, I also don’t believe any classroom should be limited to them. Every school, classroom, and individual have their own context, history, and needs moving forward, so I think these ideas can be a part of the puzzle, but not the whole picture. That is for each community to decide.

For example, all of these ideas needed to be centered on building relationships, but that is not listed in the original image. How can you genuinely empower voice in a classroom where you do not feel your voice matters or is valued?

As well, I think the ideas can help with academics, but shouldn’t be limited to that. My goal is to help learners find success in a way that is meaningful to them, now and in the future. Some of the smartest students in our schools might not do well academically, but they all have gifts to share. School should be a place where we bring out the gifts of those we serve (including adults) even if they don’t fit within the “box” of academics.

Here is an updated version of the image in the context of remote learning.

What I hope to do in this post is share some context, questions, and ideas with this image in the context of remote learning, but I think it is essential to address a couple of things before I do.

1. As I have shared before, accessibility, flexibility, and privacy need to be considered for learners.

2. One of the challenges in the past about these ideas is that they are not addressing “the basics.” Whatever the “basic” learning needs are of our students, we need to ensure that students have these skills, but are not limited to them. I shared this in “Innovate Inside the Box”:

Being an innovative school or teacher doesn’t mean you abandon the “basics,” it means you are focused on going much further than what only teaching the basics could provide. It means that you look to the learners and create new and better experiences that empower students to meet the desired learning objectives and develop skills to be successful now and in their future.

As Yong Zhao so succinctly shared in a keynote, “reading and writing should be the floor, not the ceiling.” The ideas I am sharing are not about abandoning the basics, but going beyond those skills and abilities.

3. None of the things work in isolation. All of these ideas listed can connect with one another.

With that all being said, here are some ideas, questions, and strategies connected to the “8 Ideas.” Due to the length of the posts, I am going to discuss ideas for “voice, choice, reflection, and opportunities for innovation” this week, and in part two, share thoughts on “critical thinkers, problem-finders/solvers, self-assessment, and connected learning” in the following week.


Questions and context:

Do we create an environment where students feel their contributions are necessary to the success of the class?

Do learners have different ways and opportunities to share their experiences, strengths, and wisdom with the classroom?

Ideas for implementation

Identity Day is a great way to empower students to share who they are and what they are passionate about. Here is a video on how you can do it using Flipgrid:

I have also suggested asking students questions about who they are and how they can be successful using Wakelet and Flipgrid. Here is a tutorial on that idea based on the five questions below:


Questions and context:

Do students have an opportunity to find success in a way that is meaningful to them? How do we connect the curriculum to the passions, interests, and strengths of our learners when the opportunities arise? Do I provide multiple means and mediums for students to share their learning?

Ideas for implementation

Students are more likely to read at higher levels if they have an interest in the content and connect and identify with the characters. I don’t think students should only read the content they are interested in, but I know my experience in school was more focused on what we were told to read versus what we wanted to read. That was not limited to content but also medium. I was told magazines were not “real reading” far too often. I don’t see that in classrooms today with magazines, but do students have the opportunity to curate and read digital resources in which they are interested?

Here is a tutorial on using the RSS reader “Inoreader” on compiling resources for reading for adults, but this could be easily modified for students.

Time for Reflection

Questions and context:

Consumption and meaningful creation are essential parts of learning, but how do we ensure we add active reflection to the process? How can we provide multiple mediums for students to reflect on learning?

Ideas for implementation:

When I think of reflection, my brain defaults to “writing,” but there are different ways we can share a reflection. A student could create a longer “vlog” format, or you could do a “60 Second” reflection on different mediums (TikTok limits videos to 60 seconds currently and you can create and download without posting). Here is an excellent example of a “60 Second Video Reflection” by a student discussing the process of Mitosis.

You will know a concept more deeply if you have to explain it to the world.

I also love the ideas of “gratitude journals” that not only share learning but also give time for reflection on how you can help others and the practice of gratitude. I had written about this before and created a tutorial based on the following three questions:

You can watch the full tutorial below on “gratitude journals” using Google Forms. The tool is super easy to use, and the questions can be modified for your classroom context.

Opportunities for Innovation

Questions and context:

How are we providing opportunities for students to go above and beyond the curriculum? What are some ways that students can explore learning that they are specifically interested in that might not be in the classroom?

Ideas for implementation:

I have watched educators all over the world implement the idea of “Genius Hour” in their classrooms, which, provides students an opportunity to explore passions and interests for a designated amount of time in the classroom, as shared below:

The teacher provides a set amount of time for the students to work on their passion projects. Students are then challenged to explore something to do a project over that they want to learn about. They spend several weeks researching the topic before they start creating a product that will be shared with the class/school/world. Deadlines are limited and creativity is encouraged. Throughout the process the teacher facilitates the student projects to ensure that they are on task.

I think this is an excellent opportunity for students, but one of the challenges is time spent on these types of projects that might not be directly connected to the curriculum. Of course, that is a struggle, but a teacher I worked with shared that creating these opportunities for students gave her more time in the classroom because she noticed that her classroom management had dropped dramatically. As I learned from Stephen M. R. Covey’s book, “The Speed of Trust” years ago, when people feel valued, things tend to get done quicker.

But innovation should not be limited to opportunities outside of the curriculum.

In “Innovate Inside the Box,” I share the following image that portrays moving from a “fixed, growth, to innovator’s” mindset in different situations:

In my new course, we provide templates and discuss ways that you can take a curriculum objective and describe how students display an “Innovator’s Mindset” in the process. Below is a sample for grade 6 math:

I would not suggest that you do this for EVERY objective you teach in a year, because that is not realistic. But, if you were to take one or two objectives that you were working on currently or in the near future, this is a great way to have students display the “innovator’s mindset” within your curriculum.

As I said earlier, innovative opportunities should not be limited to things outside your curriculum.

How you teach the curriculum is what leads to innovative learning in education.

As I shared earlier, I will discuss the other four ideas next week. All of these ideas can work in a remote learning space, but again, they are not limited to that space.

What are the ideas listed above that you and/or your staff can implement in your learning?

For me, if we want to be effective in implementing innovative learning in our classrooms, we have to ask, do we get these same opportunities in our learning?

The best way to create a new type of learning for our students is to experience it ourselves. Leading and learning by example is the best way to be effective in this process for and with students.

If you want to learn more about these ideas and many, many more, check out the “Developing the Innovator’s Mindset Through Remote, Face-to-Face, and Blended Learning” course that is currently on sale for a limited time!



George Couros

Innovative Teaching, Learning, and Leadership Consultant. I also like dogs.