The ongoing pandemic has resulted in a tectonic shift in our time-tested methods and processes. While almost no sector is untouched by the change in one form or the other, there are some which have undergone massive, hitherto unimaginable alteration. Healthcare, Financial Services and Education are some of the sectors which are now operating in a mix of traditional, remote and hybrid functions with a rapid evolution towards remote.
Virtual Learning through video conferencing has gone up rapidly since the onset of the pandemic and disruption of F2F classes in schools and colleges. Right now, the pandemic is forcing us to make massive changes in education globally through remote learning. Will this change be a success and remain beyond the pandemic as well? According to this Harvard Business Review article, the Coronavirus pandemic is forcing global experimentation with remote teaching. With the graph steadily on the rise as more and more schools opt for remote learning through video conferencing for their students, it may be worthwhile to have a look at the opportunities and challenges at this new and evolving method of learning.
- Not subjected to travel restrictions – With lockdown being imposed in several states owing to the rapid spread of COVID-19, schools were left with no choice but to shut down. Classes resumed, however, through video conferencing and students were once again in the learning mode, without worrying about reaching school.
- No contact, no risk of infection – For teachers and students alike, the risk of viral infection through close contact was eliminated as everyone was operating from within the safe confines of their respective homes.
- Collaborations between students of different schools – A definite advantage when it comes to forming groups between students of different schools in different cities, towns and states. Enables productive exchange of ideas and thoughts. Different groups can work on projects simultaneously and present online.
- Collaborations between teachers – Likewise, it enables teachers to come together and brainstorm, work out educational strategies, tools and new methods.
- Effective sharing of study material – Remote teaching has enabled effective sharing among the students. The teacher/teachers can easily upload the study material consisting of presentations, notes in document form, pictorials and photographs as the case may be. The same can be downloaded by a number of students at a time. One set of study material thus becomes scalable and utilized by many students.
- Bridging the urban – rural divide – Socioeconomic and geographical boundaries have disappeared through remote learning. Through this method, it is now possible for a teacher located in a city, to take classes for less-privileged students in rural locations.
- Time saving – Since this entails operating from home, it is a time saving process by default for all concerned. All you need to do is switch on your device and log onto the video conferencing application to connect with your class.
- Cost saving process – Needless to say, all the above methods collectively ensure huge savings for both the school authorities as well students’ families. There is no need to prepare oneself and set out for a particular destination.
- Flexibility – The online timetable for classes is being structured in such a way that it offers more flexibility to students and teachers alike. This is primarily being done to enable all parties to ease into the still evolving process of remote learning.
As can be expected in the case of any evolving technology or method, there are a number of issues that need to be fixed to optimize the process and ensure that the success rate is considerably higher.
- Internet access and Bandwidth – This remains priority one according to several educators. Schools Need an Education-Specific Video Conferencing Tool. For any form of remote learning, a high and uninterrupted bandwidth has to be of critical importance. Internet access is a civil right now. Educationists have written for access to the internet to be made a civil right.
- Would it be easy to use – Should be convenient to use and scalable for all types of schools. The application should be simple to download and install on personal computers, even where IT instructors and support is not available. Teachers of varying IT competency should be able to use and teach through it. The students should find it simple and uncomplicated.
- What about range and versatility of application – Typically it should suffice the needs of a range of students. A second grade student should be able to handle it without involving her parents and high schoolers should be able to use it for collaborative presentations.
- Data security and privacy – All manner of personal information available to the school authorities pertaining to the students should remain secure to ensure privacy and safety of each student, from residential address to private phone numbers, medical history and social security number to avoid the chance of an identity theft. This is the legal responsibility of the school and educators and there cannot be any slipping back on this.
- Will it enable working in Groups – Or Collaborative Support is an important point to consider. Just as in school where students and teachers operate in a F2F environment in small select groups if necessary, the application should ideally enable such support.
- Would it deal with varying levels of tech savviness in teachers – Even with the development of an user-friendly application, this may remain a hindrance as some teachers are natural adapters of the process while others find it an immense deterrent in their teaching procedure. The comfort level of different faculty members may prove to be a serious impediment in remote learning.
To sum up, this is a process which is in a state of flux, with newer inputs and ideas being incorporated on a regular basis. We may liken this to be a huge ongoing experiment through the pandemic. Since it involves human learning and mindsets, there is still plenty of scope of improving for the better. One aspect that emerges clearly is the huge potential of the process.
Once the creases have been ironed out with some trial and error, we can assume that remote learning through a good video conferencing solution with live presentation and interaction features is here to stay forever. And privacy and protection of data will be a key element to consider in any remote education process whether it’s local or global.
- Data security and privacy are of paramount importance to Personify Inc and the Company employs appropriate adequate measures in processes, procedures, policies and technologies to protect personal health information.
- The information security policies and procedures are closely aligned to international standards that are widely accepted. They are constantly reviewed and updated from time to time to incorporate legislation rules and business requirements.
- There are measures in place to protect against accidental unauthorized access, use, destruction or disclosure of data.
- The Company has a strategy for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery that has been designed to safeguard and ensure continuous and seamless service to clients and also protect its people and assets.
- Appropriate curbs and checks on access to personal information.
- Implementation of appropriate measures and controls on data, that includes monitoring and physical checks for storage and safe transfer of data.
- Regular security awareness training programs for employees and contractors.
- Necessary steps to ensure that employees and contractors are aware and incorporate all clauses applicable in contractual conditions and operate according to the Company’s information security policies and procedures.
- The Company requires through the use of contracts and security reviews, that third-party vendors and service providers and subcontractors protect any sensitive information that they may have access to, in accordance with company policies and procedures.
Personify Inc has been enabling the move to online education by providing software tools (Presenter and ChromaCam) for online instruction and remote learning. The Company is also participating in a number of initiatives to further educational opportunities for lesser privileged children. As you saw in the latest sale (for July 4), $1 from every purchase went to the United Nations Global Education Fund.