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Powering hybrid learning through collaboration technology

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By Ankur Goel

While adults had to get accustomed to remote working, our children had to get acquainted with online learning. The strict lockdown measures put in place earlier this year forced schools and colleges around the world to close almost overnight.

With coronavirus cases still on the rise and concerns surrounding the health of students and staff involved, education institutes around the world are turning to technology and experimenting with hybrid education models — with educators teaching students in both the classroom and at home.

This need to support online learning alongside classroom-based teaching will remain now and into the future. So how can schools adapt to this “next normal” and deliver a consistent learning experience across a hybrid learning environment?

The challenges in the education sector today and how collaboration technology can help
Much like office workers, teachers today face a rapidly changing work environment. Universities are having to think creatively to adjust to the new normal and achieve increased educational equity, comply with standards, and improve student performance. There is also the additional task of managing teacher shortages, while striving to improve the student experience with engaging content.

Teaching students in a physical classroom comes naturally to teachers – they can easily stand and adjust their voice to ensure students can see and hear them clearly, move around, use visual aids and make frequent eye contact with each student to ensure they are paying attention.

Students can similarly raise their hands, ask questions, and keep the engagement going.
However, in a hybrid environment, where a class may be a mix of virtual and in-person students, this critical aspect of teaching can only be recreated through the right collaboration tools.

Investing in the right collaboration solutions for hybrid education experiences will enable all participants to share ideas easily and intuitively using high quality audio and video solutions, no matter where they are located. In doing so, educators can expand their distance learning offerings and instructional techniques to include both synchronous and asynchronous communication elements thanks to recording capabilities.

So far, many teachers and students have been getting by using integrated cameras and speakers found on their computers and laptops, but poor audio and video quality is distracting and can have a negative impact on a student’s ability to learn.

HD videoconferencing solutions are key to overcoming these challenges and have a pivotal role to play in enhancing the experience for both educators and students.

Videoconferencing must be more than a software application through a laptop, however. Participants need to be able to enjoy live streaming without interruption, with high definition images that bring the room to life for remote students and cameras that capture not only the speaker, but the context of the teaching environment.

For students who are joining a class from home or sharing a space with others while learning, noise distraction can become a big issue. In fact, experts predict that noise can affect complex cognitive and learning abilities, resulting in poorer motivation and higher levels of annoyance.

Providing students with the right headsets can be the ideal solution for those trying to learn in a potentially noisy environment. Noise-cancelling headsets for example will allow students to focus on listening and learning without being distracted from their surroundings.

Audio quality of videoconferencing devices in the classroom is also key, ensuring microphones pick up the speaker — whether that’s the teacher or a student asking a question — rather than the murmur of the classroom.

Empowering the future of learning through collaboration technology
All education providers are striving to achieve the same goal – to engage their students effectively during this period of crisis and turning to technology to help them navigate through the new normal.

While learning at times of uncertainty and complexity can be a challenge, through the right collaboration tools like high quality audio and videoconferencing solutions — educational institutions can ensure that these new hybrid experiences are engaging and informative for all participants, no matter where they are located — now and in the longer term.

(The author is Managing Director, Poly India & SAARC)

If you have an interesting article / experience / case study to share, please get in touch with us at [email protected]


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