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Building an Ideal Smart Classroom for Blended Learning - Key Elements to Consider

  • BenQ
  • 2021-03-25

When it comes to education, Covid19 is proving to be a greedy thief, stealing valuable learning time from students around the world. Virus-induced closures meant no classes for many K-12 schools, for at least some of the first half of 2020. A survey conducted by OECD/Harvard, of more than 30 countries, estimates an average of 30 school days were lost due to closures by May 2020. For many schools, normal operations have yet to resume, meaning lost hours of learning are sure to continue.

The impact is as detrimental as it is undeniable. A study released by global management consults, McKinsey & Company, shows that in the US, white students have fallen behind one to three months in math, while students of colour lost three to five months. In order to arrest the damage to student’s education, schools have turned to a blend of in-person and online learning. As a result of adopting hybrid learning, digital transformation in K-12 schools has accelerated rapidly.

Blended and hybrid learning after COVID-19
COVID-19 is accelerating digital transformation in schools

COVID-19 has taught us that we need a more resilient education system; one that can cater for unforeseen circumstances in the future. Several countries are taking a pro-active approach and are heavily injecting funds into EdTech. For example, the NSW government in Australia has committed to invest $A366 million in the state budget over two years to close the digital gap in schools. The funds will be spent on re-equipping regional K-12 schools, upgrading classrooms and upskilling teachers, to provide state of the art distance education platforms and digital education resources.

Current trends in EdTech

Technology will never replace a great teacher, but great teachers can harness the right technology to amplify engagement and improve learning outcomes. Renowned American business magazine, Forbes, has identified six top digital transformation trends in education. Two trends of note include the move towards classroom sets of devices and the redesign of learning spaces.

  • Classroom sets of devices - Technology is becoming integral to teaching. The days of having a separate computer lab, where “computing” was taught as a standalone subject, and students had limited access to a device for a short period, are over. Instead, schools are installing whole sets of devices in everyday classrooms. For instance, Japan’s government has launched the Global and Innovation Gateway for All (GIGA) initiative, committing to ensure every student from the fifth to ninth grades, has access to a computer at school.

  • Redesigned learning spaces – Unlike the strict grid like arrangement of the past, classrooms are now being designed for teamwork, making them a better reflection of the workplace. Today’s classrooms have smartboards instead of chalkboards. Instead of individual seating, rooms are arranged with pods of smartdesks, with features such as ergonomic adjustment and cable management. These redesigned learning spaces are collaborative-sociable places, laden with integrated technology, which enable blended learning.

    An ideal smart classroom with a combination of interactive smart board and laptops or tablets
    What are the key elements needed to build a blended / hybrid ready learning classroom?

    There are several criteria K-12 school principals and ICT managers should consider, when purchasing technology to build a classroom that’s fit and ready for hybrid learning:

  • ConnectivityWireless Internet capability and connectivity within school buildings may involve wiring upgrades and cable installation to allow devices to communicate with each other and the outside world.

  • WhiteboardingWhiteboarding software should allow teachers to create, write and annotate on the smartboard freely, whilst also accessing teaching material from the cloud. BenQ’s interactive flat panels feature an in-class interactive whiteboard app called EZWrite and web-based whiteboarding app EZWrite Live, which is ideal for distance or hybrid learning.

  • CollaborationTablets and laptops should be able to readily connect to a large centre display to enable real interaction between group members. The new ClassroomCare™ Interactive Flat Panel has features which enhance class participation and fosters collaboration.

  • Wireless projectionThe equipment should allow teachers and students to project presentation slides, reports and digital content, straight from personal devices to the smartboard. The BenQ Smart Projector for Classrooms and ClassroomCare™ Interactive Flat Panel enable students to wirelessly share their work from their tablets or laptops, eliminating the need for transmission via cables.

  • Monitor sizeMonitors need to be adequately sized with anti-glare screens to avoid eyestrain, particularly given the acceleration of digital transformation and hybrid learning, which means teachers and students are spending more time on devices.

  • Built in health featuresGerm-resistant screens, air quality sensors and eye-care features, help teachers and students stay healthy in the classroom. The new RP02 Interactive Flat Panel features advanced ClassroomCare™ technologies.

    There are many success stories of upgrades using BenQ classroom technology. Al Aqsa Private School, in Saudi Arabia, recently upgraded their equipment so teachers could host live virtual classes from the school whilst simultaneously teaching in-person students. The results have been transformational, for both students and teachers. For more about this case study click here.

    With the right technology and dedicated teachers, students and parents need not worry about losing more learning hours to this pandemic – or indeed another one. BenQ – helping schools to build better blending learning classrooms.