Multiple COVID-19 vaccines have finally been approved for widespread use, and the end of the current pandemic is finally in sight – but, realistically, it’s still many months away. This is particularly the case for children and teens who are generally considered to be low-risk and, therefore, are unlikely to be vaccinated until at least the start of the 2021-2022 school year. That means, at least in many areas, students still have months of remote learning ahead of them, which is why we need to focus on improving online classroom tools.
Consider Your Classroom
An effective online classroom starts with a tech-friendly physical framework, and what that looks like depends on whether you’re teaching from home or out of your school. The goal should be to create a backdrop that suits your streaming or recording framework. That might mean creating a high-function bulletin board, using a stack of books to adjust the level of the webcam, and creating practice videos outside of normal teaching time to check your sound and video quality and make sure any visuals are easy to read.
Record – Don’t Stream
There’s a lot of pressure to teach classes on Zoom or using other live meeting software, and with good reason, live classes enable students to ask questions, enable teachers to build trust and community, and help ensure that everyone is on the same page with the material being presented. Unfortunately, live streams of classes are also far more likely than their pre-recorded counterparts to experience technical issues, making it harder for teachers to present a coherent lesson.
One way to ensure students have access to high-quality pre-recorded material is to use IVS’s classroom livestreaming system. Though this system can capture a class as its happening, its real advantage is, the way, that it stores those lessons for long-term use. Then students can watch them at the best time and follow-up after with any questions. Additionally, unlike other live streaming tools, the IVS VALT system is easy to use, with low latency, so its live streams are less likely to be interrupted by connectivity issues.
Recognize Hybrid Challenges
When the 2020-2021 school year began this fall, a number of schools opted to offer a hybrid model, which means some students are in class while others are attending school remotely – and while this model offers important flexibility for many families, it’s hard for teachers to balance presenting to students in these two different ways simultaneously. And, even several months into the process, many are struggling to adapt to the challenges of hybrid instruction.
Smart hybrid instruction needs to acknowledge what makes that framework uniquely challenging, including balancing teacher attention, ensuring everyone can see the material being presented, and determining what technology makes the process simpler. Many teachers are using a combination of a large screen showing their remote students and a smaller one for controlling digital tools. This helps them to feel more connected, allows students attending in person to see their classmates attending remotely, and otherwise improves the hybrid experience, regardless of what platforms a teacher is using.
There are many good reasons to continue operating schools remotely in the coming months, remembering that even if children are not badly impacted by COVID-19, they could transmit it to others who are. Luckily, with plenty of tech solutions at our fingertips, teachers can maintain important educational connections until everyone can be safely back in the classroom again.