Insights from learners in lockdown

In our new world of virtual meetings, Zoom calls and other digital connections, our ability to share ideas still remains a constant.

A few weeks back during a virtual morning tea, I heard from members of the Evaluation Associates’ marketing team that they were thinking of creating a short video of learners talking about their experiences in lockdown. While there were prolific sound bites from parents, teachers, and school leaders playing across the 6pm news and social media, learner voice was muted.

As a researcher, the idea of amplifying learner voice piqued my interest. Not only could we ask learners to share their perspectives with us, but we could also analyse their collective voice and share our findings with the education sector. The tone of our virtual morning tea quickly changed direction as Irene [Andersen] and I excitedly shared the possibilities of such a venture. And from there, the “Insights from learners in lockdown” project swung into action.

We wanted to hear from learners – in their own voices and using their words – the enjoyable and challenging parts of school-led learning at home, the messages they wanted educators to understand, and what – if anything – they want to see brought into the schooling experience from this unusual series of events we have found ourselves in globally. Sharing those collected voices with the education sector seemed a worthy endeavor in order to provide a reflection of learner experience and to offer learner perspective as we moved forward into a ‘new’ normal, post-lockdown.

The response to our project was exciting. 31 learners from the ages of two to seventeen responded from six regions throughout New Zealand. Their voices and experience are captured in the video below.


As a company, accessing and understanding the perspectives of learners is vital. We pride ourselves on using student voice to drive the education system further. Surfacing the perspectives of children and young people is a hallmark of the evaluation and research work I undertake at Evaluation Associates.

The global response to the COVID-19 pandemic affords us the ability to take stock and reflect on some deeply ingrained practices within education. There is widespread discussion that upon returning to on-site learning, education should not be ‘business as usual’ but instead we should be acknowledging that there is an opportunity to be forging a new normal (Breakspear, 2020). The Insights from learners in lockdown report reveals some unexpected positives, surfaces challenges learners experienced, and foreshadows a range of considerations for all educators.

We recommend that you read the report. These learners have shared their experiences and perspectives with us and we are so proud to be able to share their voices with the education sector.

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