Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools were forced to have their students attend online classes instead of in-person ones. For areas with poor or no connectivity and families that can’t afford internet service and computers, local communities and governments have had to step in to help. After overcoming these technical hurdles came the challenge of facilitating remote learning, which in and of itself proved daunting.
As of this writing, vaccination programs are being rolled out across the United States, which means that students may return to their classrooms sooner rather than later. Nevertheless, the value of online education has been proven on a massive scale, further establishing remote learning as a viable income channel for schools, universities, and independent educators. To successfully venture into remote learning, you can try the following tools.
In in-person classroom settings, teachers take attendance, write on chalkboards, and engage students via a variety of activities. With remote learning, however, teachers must more or less be able to do the same things, but with the computer as the primary medium of instruction.
Here are the aspects that educators need to consider when offering remote and blended learning:
- Video conferencing apps – With tools such as Loom, Zoom, and Google Meet, instructors can teach students live or offer pre-recorded lessons. Of course, live sessions can also be recorded so that students can rewatch the sessions on demand. Other advanced apps like Top Hat allow teachers to show up on screen while sharing their lesson slides. Top Hat can also let students take the stage when they need to do a class presentation.
- Learning management system – This is a platform where teachers can set up virtual classrooms, send invites to students, mark attendance, create class work, grade students transparently and consistently, and easily provide personalized feedback. Examples of learning management systems include Canvas, Google Classroom, and Microsoft Educator Center.
- Subject matter content apps – Teachers can use apps that offer all sorts of lessons for subjects ranging from math (e.g., Prodigy) to science (e.g., Science Basics and Toca Nature) to social studies (e.g., News-O-Matic). Other apps like Kahoot! even gamify quizzes so that students can exhibit their proficiencies while having fun.
- Collaboration platforms – These allow students to do group projects and collaborate in real time.
- Parent-teacher engagement – With apps like ClassTag, teachers can easily communicate with parents about their children’s progress and needs.
The value of online education has been proven on a massive scale during the COVID-19 pandemic, further establishing remote learning as a viable income channel for schools, universities, and independent educators.
It makes sense for educators to create compendiums of their learning materials so that students who wish to review lessons or wish to catch up on missed lessons can do so. Additionally, each student will need to have repositories of their coursework. These will require learning institutions to acquire data storage, be it via on-premises servers, off-site storage from cloud service providers, or decentralized cloud storage from the likes of Filecoin.
Virtual reality and other immersive technologies
For fields where experts are limited and are located halfway across the world, virtual reality (VR) and head-mounted cameras make such experts more accessible. For example, specialist surgeons can perform surgeries while broadcasting a live feed so that other surgeons can learn how to perform the procedure themselves.
Other firms like FundamentalVR combine visual VR with haptic VR (i.e., VR that replicates the sensation of touch to users’ hands) so that they can offer VR surgery classes. The developers of these technologies hope to enable learners to acquire highly specialized skills without subjecting them to high-risk scenarios. Other use cases of VR include learning chemistry, flight training, visiting museums, and engineering robots.
Immersive tech may be the next logical step for remote learning. According to the Cone of Experience theory put forward by renowned American educator Edgar Dale, how much information people retain is dependent on how they obtained such information:
- 10% via reading
- 20% via listening
- 90% via doing and experiencing
This is supported by a couple of studies. One study on medical training found that training conducted using VR tools resulted in 80% retention of what was taught one complete year after training. This is in sharp contrast to the 20% retained one week after traditional training. Another study on employee job training found a 75% retention rate for VR trainees, 10% for readers, and 5% for those who attended lectures.
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