As the restrictions on Covid-19 activities eased, schools are looking at the best way to adopt a hybrid learning model, a combination of classroom and distance learning that will ensure both a safe in-person learning environment, as well as a balanced digital learning experience.
According to the CDC, hybrid learning environments have low to medium levels of risk, some of which can be mitigated using social distancing and other techniques. But in addition to keeping students safe, schools want to ensure effective learning and balanced learning to maintain a high quality of education. Besides the use of video conferencing platforms that is now commonplace in classrooms, there are now new tools that can be implemented into a classroom that can close the learning gap between remote and in-person learning- and don’t cost very much.
Introduced in early 2019, the concept of cloud collaboration in education is a platform that can allow students to view the content directly on the whiteboard via a web browser screen as it is being created. Combined with a video conferencing system, it offers remote students the opportunity to interact with both the teacher and the screen at the same time on their remote computer – just like in the classroom. Some systems will also allow students (with teacher control) to annotate on the board remotely, which increases engagement for online students. By implementing these tools, you can turn your teaching and learning enviroment into a true hybrid classroom.
As education technology moves beyond proprietary Smart and Promethean whiteboard ecosystems to more flexible interactive display’s, teachers can now record their lessons in real-time – while still moving around the classroom. The best education displays have highly sophisticated array microphones that can capture a teacher's voice from up to 15 feet away built directly into the classroom touch screen. Noise cancellation and voice enhancement algorithms can improve audio to enable a student to replay the lesson from a remote location to review parts of the lesson they missed or where they need additional help.
Until 2020, the majority of classroom taxonomy was based around proprietary software platforms such as Smart Notebook and a fixed display in a classroom. With companies such as Microsoft, Google, and others who are redesigning their software ecosystems, a more flexible approach is needed to ensure that schools can rapidly adapt to changes. For example, the OECD has published an extensive guide on different free and low-cost software systems that not only address cognitive skills but also intra-personal skills for remote learning. These can be easily adapted to an interactive touch display in the classroom.
Health experts are keenly aware that the more people move, the higher the risk of spreading disease. Even with smaller class sizes, trying to keep effective social distancing every time you move a group of fourth-graders can be challenging. The solution – move the teacher instead of the student. With the latest interactive touch displays and smart projectors, the teacher can move to a new classroom and use a simple QR code login or a swipe of their badge to instantly transform the display to their background, custom apps, and network connections to lesson content. We call that technology Tap 'N Teach. It is a new, groundbreaking new way to quickly, securely log in to your account through a swipe of an NFC-powered card. This is also helpful if the physical classroom needs to change due to sanitation or other issues.
Two other recent technologies have emerged that can enable safer in-classroom collaboration, group activities, and effective social distancing. Both of these were originally developed for corporate market, but are now being used in classrooms worldwide to improve student collaboration- and create healthy hybrid classrooms.
One of the easiest and least expensive ways to enable social distancing inside a classroom is to enable students to mirror their screen right from their desks. This eliminates unnecessary classroom movement, and the need to constantly clean cables. Schools can use either a smart projector or touch screen display with integrated wireless screen mirroring – or simply add a wireless presentation system directly to their existing projectors that enable a student to share content from their seat.
This is a new option that has become recently available for classroom interactive flat panels. Originally developed for medical applications, germ-resistant glass was first incorporated into interactive flat panels designed for international private schools. The glass is thicker than most other interactive displays and undergoes a process where a special coating is fused directly to the glass in a high-temperature process so it doesn’t wear off. This process has been tested and certified by TÜV and Japan’s SIAA as effective against multiple pathogens.
The transition to hybrid learning poses many challenges to the entire K-12 learning ecosystem. But with the latest educational technology being introduced today, schools can transition from traditional passive projectors and interactive whiteboards to new technology that is purpose-built for a hybrid classroom – enabling safer collaboration with germ-resistant materials, better quality remote audio, and improved software and classroom flexibility using both cloud collaboration and NFC technology.
Learn more about germ-resistant interactive displays that enable modern, immersive, and engaging learning-
also in blended learning scenarios!