When schools around the world went into lock down earlier this year, the individuals responsible for servicing their on-campus technology infrastructure faced a monumental challenge, with absolutely no notice: virtualizing learning environments and classrooms to maintain education and enable students to continue their development from home.
The challenges have likely been the biggest faced by these institutions and IT teams, as they have not only needed to equip and train educators in delivering classes and curriculum virtually, but also enable students around countries to securely access these classes and learning management systems. Thankfully, collaboration hardware and software organizations have also reacted rapidly to enhance virtual learning environments. But, there are still many considerations in the digital transformation of the educational experience.
Questions faced have ranged from choosing the right digital tools for teachers, to designing curriculum and learning that is accessible and engaging for all students. Other considerations have been on how technology can track student progress while safeguarding privacy, how to distribute information, and how to communicate with parents, students, and teachers throughout this trying time.
"IT teams at educational institutions can review processes from the logistical and technological challenges of the previous months and build more robust systems for enhanced virtual learning environments in the future"
Now, as many countries enter or begin planning for their recovery phase, or longer term strategies, IT teams at educational institutions can review data and processes from the logistical and technological challenges of the previous months and build more robust systems for enhanced virtual learning environments in the future. With many schools having already announced longer term online classes, technology will offer schools who lean in digitally a competitive advantage moving forward. At this point in time, investing in the right technology infrastructure is key for many reasons.
Firstly, as schools have had their ability to educate challenged, the business side of the institution sees its ability to drive revenue threatened too, in the absence of on-site education options. Looking forward, schools need to build out their online education offering, up-skill lecturers and make sure that they have the right equipment to enable virtual learning platforms so as to remain resilient in hybrid learning environments of the future.
Most important among these considerations will be safely and effectively delivering one-to-many communications and understanding the challenges of the educator at home. IT managers need to handle thousands of remote locations, troubleshooting and updating equipment in order to enable teachers to create and deliver high-quality classes and learning materials.
"Most important among these considerations will be safely and effectively delivering one-to-many communications and understanding the challenges of the educator at home"
Flexibly managing this infrastructure will be key, in addition to making sure that networks are secure, and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) and Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations are followed.
While data can play a key role in advancing educational technology, enabling an enhanced experience for students and teachers alike, it needs to be done in hardware and software ecosystems that are safeguarded and secure.
Professional audio and video devices carry a number of benefits in these education environments. As collaboration software continues to develop greater education-specific functionality, unlocking these benefits with compatible and certified hardware can give your virtual learning environments much greater enhancements and learning tools. This leads to more engaged students, as well as greater functionality and control for educators.
"As collaboration software continues to develop greater education-specific functionality, unlocking these benefits with compatible and certified hardware can give your virtual learning environments much greater enhancements and learning tools"
While our research shows that most educators use built-in video and audio in their laptops, schools that invest in professional audio and video solutions can empower teachers to deliver more engaging classes with human-like HD audio and video, offering an in-person virtual experience.
Technology such as wide-angle cameras and wireless headsets enable your teachers to deliver high-quality lessons, where they can move freely, and use props like whiteboards to simulate a familiar learning stage for students while never risking being unheard. In new Jabra research on educators, over half of the respondents were using props in lessons, while still being most challenged by student engagement. Technology will continue to unlock virtual learning environments that tackle these issues and allow teachers to perform at their best in this new space.
For IT managers, being able to manage the deployment and distribution of these devices is the first hurdle, but they then need to manage firmware and security updates remotely, as well as getting performance analytics to diagnose potential issues in teachers’ home classroom setups. Professional audio and video solutions are not only certified to work with leading software solutions like Zoom, but they can be securely managed by administrators remotely as well as providing the right diagnostic analytics for potential issues in the technology ecosystem.
"Professional audio and video solutions are not only certified to work with leading software solutions like Zoom, but they can be securely managed by administrators remotely"
Rather than just delegating the decision to an IT team or administrative staff, schools need to collaborate across a key team of stakeholders, from teachers to faculty members, IT staff, parents and guardians. This team of decision makers needs to pay attention to how learning is or isn’t working in a remote setting and what types of learning they need to accommodate.
Some classes might be live, with others on-demand, whereas some learning might be peer-to-peer or self-instructed. A variety of learning styles and materials can develop more than academic skills, with peer-to-peer learning facilitating other aspects of student development.
As we move forward into a new normal of virtual and hybrid learning, technology is proving to play a major role in education, as both hardware and software are key to enabling elevated, accessible and engaged learning online. Designating the right technology infrastructure investments in schools will ensure a continuously improved learning experience, allowing teachers and students to excel in virtual learning environments of the future.
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