Back to school is here, but for many schools will look a lot different this time around. IT professionals for K-12 and higher education know this more than anyone, as the shift to remote and hybrid learning has posed a litany of new challenges. During a timely webinar, an expert panel of tech and education professionals delved into these challenges.
Carl Marks is the Chief Information Officer for Alvernia University, a private post-secondary institution in Reading, Pennsylvania. For Marks, a new school year typically means nervous students and parents. This coming semester, however, those first-day jitters also apply to educators, administrators, staff, and executives as the school moves to a hybrid learning model where some modified classes will take place on campus.
“This is a journey we’ve been on,” explains Marks. “Limiting classroom sizes…And on top of that, the need to turn every classroom into a video conferencing classroom.” It’s not just the students who need solutions, either. Marks explains: “We hear a lot of people talk about giving students the ability to come in virtually. Interestingly enough, what we’re also dealing with is faculty members conducting class remotely, which is presenting a whole other challenge.”
For Gregg Stanley – Director of Technology at Collegium Charter elementary and secondary school – his school’s move to a virtual learning model has presented different obstacles, including trying to find a solution for the 5-7% of their students who do not have internet capabilities at home. Additionally, equipment availability has been a challenge, Stanley notes that “coming up with Plan Bs and Plan Cs is very critical.”
Hybrid or Virtual?
Among webinar attendees, a full 89% responded that their local schools would be either fully remote or employing a hybrid model with some physical participation and some virtual. Organizations like Biamp – provider of audiovisual hardware solutions – have had to be quick and creative in addressing the ever-growing adversity faced by educational institutions. Take, for instance, microphones. “Students will be continuously moving. They won’t be sitting in the same place. They will be social distancing,” describes Abdul Chaudri, Director of Strategic Accounts at Biamp. Chaudri knows that the technology needs to create audio pickup from anywhere in the room and that the conversation needs to clearly transmit to a remote audience. Not only does the microphone need to have range, but depth as well. If not, the quality of education and the student experience is at stake.
Biamp Executive Vice President, Joe Adrulis, explains that, at the end of the day, classroom technology needs to successfully create an education environment:
“If the audio fades when someone turns away, it’s an opportunity for a participant to detach from the experience. Keeping them engaged is a big challenge.”
This thinking was reflected by webinar participants, where no less than 100% of respondents cited student and staff experience as their chief concern with hybrid or virtual settings.
Trends, Challenges and Obstacles
So, what are the current trends and best practices of virtual and hybrid learning? What are the surprises, and what are the benefits? What are the overlooked challenges of virtual and hybrid education models you might be missing? What are the lessons of virtual and hybrid learning, and what might the future look like? Join Marks, Stanley, Chaudri, Adrulis, JSA Executive Vice President, Dean Perrine, and Comstar Director of Audio Visual Solutions, Bob White, as they discuss all this and more in the all-new webinar Preparing For A Virtual Campus and Hybrid Learning Solutions. The webinar includes case studies, a viewer Q&A session, and even a classroom walkthrough. Check it out here: