Nadav Avni, Marketing Director at Radix Technologies, discusses the advantages of implementing device management solutions technology into education and the role that it plays on a day-to-day level through remote classrooms, hybrid learning, and in-person teaching
The pandemic effectively displaced 1.2 billion students from receiving classroom instructions in 2020. Coronavirus caught many schools and instructors by surprise. Consequently, many institutions received little time and resources to transition the shift from in-class training to online. This isn’t saying that technology in education, specifically remote learning, is a new concept for schools. However, most schools had to come up with a plan to change their mode of learning from in-person classroom to fully remote.
How did different technologies help this rapid transition from traditional to virtual classrooms? How can a fully-featured classroom management solution help resolve issues?
Technology in education
Most students associate online learning with joining a video conference session and settle as one of the small squares that comprise the entire class. However, efficient online learning needs more than just an online meeting room.
At the minimum, an effective teaching session requires three platforms for the teacher. First, a classroom management solution that gives the instructor the authority and the tools to keep students in check and maintain their attention. The second is video conferencing software to serve as the primary means of visual and audio communication. And lastly, a learning management system (LMS) to manage the cloud storage for school and study-related documents. This includes school and student records, course syllabus, subject materials, activity books, and other data.
A typical day in a virtual classroom
A typical online class session involves the teacher multi-tasking and handling multiple tasks and challenges at the same time. This includes ensuring all students are present and accounted for, making all course materials and activities ready for the sessions, managing the classroom, minimising disruptions, and running the video conference meeting. Given the limited class hours, teachers are fighting a losing war with technology in education. Instead of devoting most of their teaching hours to educating, online sessions often mean more time spent managing the technology and making sure everybody stays connected.
In an ideal world, the prevailing technology in education means each student reports to the class using the same laptop that the teacher uses. In reality, issues in infrastructure and the limited availability of affordable computing machines mean varying network quality and device types. Unless the system works seamlessly with various devices, a lot of precious school time goes to waste trying to get everyone on board and everything to work.
Video Conferencing software provided an inexpensive, convenient way to connect the entire classrooms via voice and video. The ability to share screens became a popular replacement for the whiteboard as well. Each participant also gets a small space of his own to show participation. Most video conferencing solutions only allow one participant to share a screen at a time; teachers have to rely on their students’ honesty and dedication when it comes to in-class activities. A standalone video conferencing software’s limitations become apparent when instructors try to manage a full classroom, engage each student, and facilitate simultaneous activities.
Data security concerns
A crucial issue that took a back seat during the early days of the pandemic is data security. School administrators need to ensure that students’ data are kept secure and confidential. With online classrooms, data keeps flowing back and forth between participants with minimal network protection. On top of that, teachers require continuous access to school records that contain private information.
Teachers are already burdened trying to make the technology work in their classrooms. Managing school and student data privacy is the last thing they need to add to their tasks. Ideally, the teaching system should be compliant with existing policies regarding student data privacy, such as the provisions listed in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Both parents and teachers can feel better knowing that the cloud software used by students is FERPA-compliant and ensures secure connections during every session.
Advantages of flexible learning systems
In most teaching systems, the learning management system is where the class syllabus, activities, schedules, records, and materials are stored and managed. It’s designed to ensure that students and teachers alike have access to data anywhere and anytime. While LMS features an efficient way to manage information, it often does not provide an embedded communication system that teachers can use to talk to their students. Hence the need for a separate video conference software. This tool adds to the instructor’s already busy workday, who must learn how to deftly switch between the LMS and the video conferencing system to help students in case of questions or requests for additional instructions.
A modern approach to education in technology involves integrating the functions needed by instructors to successfully conduct an online class. This means providing a cloud-based distance learning platform that combines classroom management and video conferencing capabilities and access to learning management systems. Having a singular system that covers most of the online classroom requirements means less time tinkering with the settings and more time teaching eager young minds.
Flexible distance learning solution
Distance learning solutions often come with an integrated video conference system that provides better means to manage the classroom. Using “over the shoulder” functionalities, educators can provide personalised instructions and assistance. Each student’s monitor can be accessed at any time, and the system also allows teachers to engage in 1:1 sessions with individual students.
Instructors can also use and share interactive virtual whiteboards, launch websites, and conduct surveys and quizzes. Similarly, classroom management solutions also allow the simultaneous transfer, collection, and sharing of files during sessions. The seamless integration of these features also ensures that teachers do not need to juggle multiple, independent apps while managing and teaching their classes. This facilitates better collaboration between teachers and students, just like they do in face-to-face scenarios.
Modern distance learning platforms are device agnostic. They can manage numerous devices running different operating systems. That means students can use their computers or mobile devices without worrying about compatibility and ease of use. These solutions also allow teachers to have centralised views of their classrooms. They can coordinate all devices and control the students’ activities to promote better participation.
OEM device manufacturers and vendors are looking for a cost-effective solution to bundle their hardware offerings with these scalable classroom management applications. Depending on clients’ specifications, they can offer these solutions as factory-level integrated bundled software or provide white-label options for a highly customised product offering.
The future of remote learning
While the future is still uncertain, most school systems are expecting a surge of students in the classrooms within the next few years. But what happens to remote learning when the pandemic dies down? What happens to the sizable investments made by schools transforming their learning systems? Once students start trooping back to schools, what happens to their investments in remote technology in education?
The choice of remote teaching systems becomes crucial once schools realise that they will have to accept new methods of delivering classes at some point. In particular, schools can benefit from a flexible system that can be used for in-person learning, remote instruction, or hybrid classes. The latter means some participants are physically present in the classroom while some are connected remotely.
Investing in a learning system that can handle all three methods definitely provides the school the advantage of being ready for any situation. In addition, having a unified system lessens the learning curve and ensures both teachers and students learn the system much easier and faster.