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Maintaining the student experience in distance learning

Video conferencing
(Image credit: Shutterstock / Round Pebble Design)

Recent advances in education technology enable a more sophisticated distance learning experience. Numerous educational apps and other online resources are available for students and a range of products such as cameras and visualizers help educators to deliver lessons remotely. When students and teachers need to rely on remote learning equipment and approaches for months at a time it’s crucial that these lessons are not compromised, and that technology does not become a barrier to the learning and teaching experience.

Quality content matters, and utilising appropriate equipment even when not in the classroom is important for developing a rich e-learning experience. Simply setting up a webcam and a headset may not be enough for teachers to deliver an engaging and inclusive lesson to their students, but that does not mean that the technology has to be complicated: the best devices are easy to install and implement. They make accelerated digital transformation as simple as waiting for an order of devices to arrive, plugging them in, and getting started.

The requirement for distance learning is not disappearing quickly, and additional equipment enables teachers to make content accessible and interesting for their learners with minimal changes to their usual lesson preparation. While teachers and students will inevitably return to schools, our approach to education and the technology we use as part of this has considerably changed and much of the technology teachers can implement at home now can help them prepare for hybrid learning environments, or to improve classroom engagement further.

About the author

Rene Buhay is Vice President of Sales & Marketing at AVer Europe

Visualizers

Teachers may be familiar with using visualizers within the classroom to show details to large groups from the front of the class, but there’s a huge benefit to using these as part of a remote teaching setup too. Many visualizers can be synced with Microsoft Teams, Skype, Zoom and Google Meet. With the capability to switch between a webcam, visualizer and presentation slides, teachers can use a visualizer just like they would within the classroom and students have access to a variety of different sources of content in the lesson.

The opportunities for engaging with students using a visualizer are endless; students and teachers can go through work together, zooming in on specific areas of a book or object, freeze the frame to show a moving item in more detail, or even record content.

With an ability to record lessons for future reference or distribution among students, visualizers help any students that may have missed a lesson catch up and provide the opportunity to recap on what was covered. Many visualizers have real-time recording capability which allows teachers to share the video content on their chosen media sharing platform, so students who can’t make the class can still participate.

Visualizers make life easier for teachers as they can reuse recorded content for different lessons, recap on topics easily and prepare material ahead of time. This can take the pressure off the live delivery of classes and means that they can share material with other teachers, reducing the preparation workload.

High quality USB cameras

Built-in web cameras may have sufficed for some of lockdown, but now is the time to invest in more fitting or practical equipment if you haven’t already. Students could lose interest easily during a video call if a teacher is trying to show something on an unclear or poor-quality camera, or the level of detail required cannot be seen. Teachers may be limited by the field-of-view that built-in cameras offer, especially if they are trying to showcase larger items or a whiteboard.

A higher quality camera with a wide field-of-view gives crisper image quality than the one embedded at the top of a laptop screen and provides teachers with more freedom and opportunities to engage with students.

Auto-tracking cameras

Many people assume that if you are delivering a class remotely, you need to be chained to your PC or laptop, but this is not the case. Teachers are not used to being stationary in their day jobs in the classroom and adjusting a teaching style to be sitting down for a large part of the day is not only a huge shift for them, but for the students too.

Some subjects require more movement than others and, in these situations, teachers may even need more than a wide-angled USB camera. This is where auto-tracking cameras come in, enabling teachers to move freely around a room and still be framed, rather than keeping them trapped within a single position.

Cameras like this are hugely beneficial if teachers wish to record content themselves to share with students later. Many cameras allow the user to create engaging video for streaming, sharing and recording demonstrations and speeches. Gone are the days when the educational presenter must stand still in front of the camera. Auto tracking cameras give presenters the freedom to roam the room, show off different content or materials, be natural and to concentrate on doing what they do best: imparting information in a relaxed and spontaneous manner.

Auto-tracking cameras help teachers prepare for potential future hybrid teaching, providing the opportunity to share content with those at home as well as in the classroom. With no additional devices to wear or the need to hire camera operators to create this content, the teacher is still free to move around the room like they would usually do, plus it means the teacher and students can still socially distance without a risk to the teacher disappearing off camera for those students looking to engage from home.

While the disruption because of the pandemic may not be something we can control, having reliable and resilient technology in place that helps engage students is in our power and can help to provide consistency for students while furthering their education. With these solutions, educators can deliver classes that continue to meet learning objectives, curriculums and the needs of students.

Rene Buhay is Vice President of Sales & Marketing at AV manufacturer AVer Europe