In recent months, schools and educational institutions have abruptly shifted their curriculum and teaching methods due to the COVID-19 pandemic which left many campuses across the country closed. These institutions had to expand their traditional in-person classes to be fully online for distance learning during the midst of the pandemic. Now, as states ease restrictions, many schools are starting to prepare classrooms for distance learning courses in the fall since everyone may not be able to return in person. But to facilitate distance learning courses in a post- COVID-19 world, schools will need to properly equip and enable their classrooms with video conferencing equipment to accommodate for both in-person and online students. So, let’s break down distance learning, the benefits, and what a room needs to be enabled for distance learning.
What exactly is distance learning?
Distance learning is described as a form of education that uses one or more technologies to deliver instruction to students who are separated from the instructor. It supports regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor synchronously or asynchronously. There are a couple of different types of distance learning classes. One variation of distance learning is the hybrid classroom which combines some in-person meetings with some online meetings. Another variation is a fully online course which means students participate fully online with no in-person meetings which is how most schools will continue for the foreseeable future.
What are the Benefits of distance learning?
Using video conferencing in the classroom for distance learning offers the students, teachers, and educational institutions a variety of benefits. For students, it reduces the cost of tuition and expands learning opportunities for people everywhere, even those in rural or remote areas. The flexibility of distance education gives students and teachers more flexibility in their schedules. Classes can also be recorded which allows students to view lectures multiple times and allows teachers to use the same lecture for various classes instead of having to repeat the lecture several times in a day. Educational institutes that offer distance learning courses are able to extend accessibility despite traditional course restrictions or global pandemics. They can allow more students in classes and offer more class sections for students with flexible times which in turn will mean higher enrollment rates.
What are the essential elements to prepare the classroom?
Video Conferencing Platform
Of course to conduct distance learning you need reliable video conferencing software. Your hardware products should all be able to connect and perform flawlessly with these programs. It’s also important to look at a conferencing platform that has some integrations with your learning management software. You should also look for a platform that allows you to screen share, annotate, record and whatever else an instructor may need to do during a distance learning lecture.
To tie it all together you’ll need a reliable and extremely intuitive audio solution. It’s crucial to have a solution that will be easy for instructors to learn and use. You not only need audio that’s reliable but scalable to fit in rooms of all shapes and sizes.
The Stem Audio ecosystem is made up of five networkable mix and matchable solutions (Ceiling, Wall, Table, Control, and Hub) paired with a powerful software platform to back it up. Our ecosystem approach offers a cost-conscious alternative to traditional ProAV solutions which can cost upwards of $20,000 for a single room. Stem enabled classrooms are less than 1/2 the cost and can be customized to fit any budget. All Stem devices are connected directly to your network via a single Ethernet cable so you can get your room up and running in no time all on your own. With Stem, you can create the perfect high-quality pickup in any classroom while still adhering to physical distancing guidelines. Just add more devices and scale your coverage as needed to make sure everyone is heard. Check out the reference design below to see how Stem connects in the classroom.
Since you can mix and match devices you have the freedom to create a one-of-a-kind configuration that meets the needs of each classroom, making it the perfect choice for standardizing across campus. By having a go-to for all your classroom and conferencing needs, you can save time and manage your educational institution more effectively.
Lights, Camera, Lecture
When choosing a camera for distance learning it’s important to identify the requirements it needs to meet. For example, if you need it to have a certain field of view or zoom capabilities. Some institutions use distance learning for guest lecturers which oftentimes would require a camera with a larger field of view and zoom as opposed to if you just needed a smaller camera for just capturing the instructor or the classroom.
Our recommendations for cameras are:
Adding interaction in the classroom
Another (optional) element to add to the classroom is an interactive board. Interactive boards are useful for increasing engagement for those who are both in class and are able to participate and for students who may be learning from a distance. Distance learners can see how the instructor or how other students break down problems or discuss material on the boards and the instructor can easily save the notes as opposed to the capabilities of just a whiteboard.
So, the benefits of distance learning are clear and it has become a need for schools that are looking to expand their offerings. At the end of the day, the classroom needs to be equipped with reliable and flexible solutions that will streamline the teaching and learning experience.