If you have children, chances are their days look startlingly similar to your own: log in from home, collaborate with peers, meet over video, and so on. Education systems around the world have come to the same realizations the business world has, and many have begun offering hybrid education models where students split time learning in their classroom and from home. The need for hybrid or online learning support will only continue to grow, so how can education systems adapt to deliver a consistent learning experience, no matter where a student is joining the class from?
Defining the Need
Both students and teachers are well-versed in the expectations of a classroom setting. Teachers can move around a classroom, adjust their speaking volume, and maintain eye contact to keep students engaged. Likewise, students can raise their hands, ask questions, and so on. However, in a hybrid setting where some students may be virtual and some may be in person, how can the experience be the same for both? The answer: collaboration technology.
Hybrid education requires that all participants have the ability to share ideas easily and intuitively, no matter where they are. Individuals on both sides needs high-quality audio and visual capabilities and solid internet access. For now, integrated cameras and speakers on personal laptops may be enough to get by, but poor A/V quality can be distracting and detrimental to learning. HD videoconferencing solutions will be central to sustained, long-term hybrid learning experienced. Remote students don’t just need to see their teacher; they need to see and interact with their entire classroom.
Also, as you’ve likely noticed, when multiple people are working/learning from home, noise can be a major distraction. Noise can make it harder to focus, which in turn makes it harder to stay motivated and easier to check out. Noise-cancelling headsets can help students stay focused on what their learning without being distracted by the noises around them. Related to this, it’s important that microphones pick up the speaker rather than classroom/background noises.
Advantages and Disadvantages
As with anything, there are clear advantages and disadvantages to the hybrid setting, and collaboration technology may be key to bridging the gap. On the positive side, remote learning means that children can learn anytime, anywhere and may translate to financial savings on books and supplementary materials. A shift to embracing technology in classroom can also indicate a shift from the teacher’s role as information owner to learning facilitator for students. This shifts the responsibility of learning more squarely onto the learner, encouraging students to take more responsibility for their own education while allowing teachers to encourage self-discipline and promote critical thinking skills. Tech-driven initiatives, tools, and practices can make content interactive, thereby increasing their appeal, and can take distracting non-academic tasks (e.g., marking attendance) off teachers’ hands. Cleary, collaboration technology is central to the many advantages of hybrid learning, particularly for remote students.
However, device and internet connectivity are fundamental to hybrid learning and require investment from both school system and parents to fully maximize effectiveness. Additionally, hybrid learning requires a mindset shift, and collaboration technology can play a vital role in demonstrating how technology enables, rather than hinders, learning. Similarly, in a hybrid learning model where teachers and students move locations, technology’s role is to provide continuity, which is why selecting the right collaboration tools is so important. Lastly, as in life outside of the classroom, technology cannot be fully embraced without protection from its dangers, and all good collaboration technologies must place security as a central focus.
Regardless of where students join their class from, education providers want to keep students engaged, comply with standards, and improve student performance and experience. Collaboration technology is the key to unlocking hybrid educational experiences, now and in the future. GDT’s Collaboration Solutions experts deliver quality collaborative experiences that combine unified communications, cutting-edge video capabilities and state-of-the-art conferencing services. Our experienced, highly skilled solutions engineers and architects design collaborative solutions that reduce infrastructure costs and enable customization to fit customers’ specific needs. Learn more about GDT Collaboration Solutions here.