As is pretty much evident to everyone, the education category has undergone a sea change owing to the pandemic. Some historical firsts were established – and not in a positive way. For instance, according to UNICEF, more than 168 billion children were affected globally when schools remained shut for more than a year, owing to COVID-19 COVID-19: Schools for more than 168 million children globally have been completely closed for almost a full year, says UNICEF
It has been nearly 2 years into the pandemic and erratic school closures are already wreaking havoc in the lives of over 31 million children globally, a state of aggravated state of affairs that has led the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, to term this as a “global learning crisis.”
The ebb seems to be in sight. As of March 1, 2022, almost 10.8 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered to citizens of various nations worldwide. In the United States alone, about 553 million have been vaccinated. • COVID-19 vaccine doses by country | Statista
By and large, life is trying to come back to its former position of normalcy, though we realize that an exact semblance of its former state is well nigh impossible. Still, choosing not to be overtly panic-stricken by the sporadic spikes in some nations, most sectors are approaching post-pandemic existence with a mix of optimism and cautiousness.
The educational institutions are also sharing this sentiment. The onset of classes in high schools and colleges is an indication of the fact that both authorities and students are keen to share off the constraints that the pandemic had imposed on them. However, it is clear to all concerned that a complete reversal of the state of affairs in the pedagogical domain is simply not possible.
The reason is this – for virtually two years, students have been forced to accept a virtual form of dissemination of educational information. Despite initial teething issues and technical and skill restrictions on either side, it was found that the new method of online learning had several clear advantages and benefits.
In fact, it would be wrong to label the method as “new” because for more than a decade, there have been efforts to popularize the online method of learning. It is just that the pandemic fast-forwarded it for everyone.
Now the question that should be uppermost in the minds of educators should be this – Should we carry forward the positive learnings from the past months and incorporate them, making them a regular part of our curriculum or should we, to quote an article in Forbes, “return to a ‘business as usual’ mindset focused on traditional, instructional norms or adopt innovative methodologies that broaden its reach and enhance its effectiveness?” Education, including American education, needs to have an honest answer.
TECHNOLOGY TO THE RESCUE
A recent research conducted on teachers and students of different educational institutions found the highly increased dependency on video conferencing for regular classes, seminars, training and conferences. This method was being used alongside the learning management systems platform. Availability of technology and suitable, easy to download and use video conferencing platforms thus become an essential part of the process.
That said, it is important to opt for a system that works well both for static as well as high functioning environments. As the key purpose is to bring together a fairly high number of learners and teacher(s) together at a time, there are some needs that ought to be addressed for maximum benefit from this mode.
WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN LOOKING FOR A VIDEO CONFERENCING TOOL FOR REMOTE INSTRUCTION OR ONLINE TRAINING
It makes sense to look at the requirements of present-day education and understand what it expects from an ideal video conferencing tool.
- Ease of Use – It should be easy to download and install and use without the intervention of a parent or adult. Even a junior school student should be okay with its ease of operation. At the same time, it should be advanced enough to satisfy the requirements of senior students, typically those collaborating together or working on projects. It should be scalable without fuss.
- Created for education – It would be nice to have education-specific video conferencing platforms. This has already made advances in some private institutions where it comes at a reasonably hefty fee. The idea is to make it easily available and fun to use together. The healthcare sector has it, fintech has it, why not education? It is high time to recognize the sector as fertile ground.
- Features and Integrations – A Learning Management System (LMS) has gone a considerable way in easing operations for educators and students. But the wish list remains long. A facility for archiving lessons and sessions would be of help to students – a form of new-age archive from where they can retrieve the capsules at a later time to understand better. Plus, whiteboarding, translations, transcription, editing tools, closed captioning and adding memos. Personify Inc. has introduced a Sticky Notes feature, where you can fix notes across your presentation, to highlight important points.
- Support for collaborative projects – Students enjoy working in groups, whether in the classroom or lab. An ideal video conferencing platform should provide the scope to band and disband, form and work in different breakout groups while remaining a part of a larger class. At the same time, the teacher should be able to oversee the class collectively or at the group level.
- Assessments – How to assess without the potential threat of “cheating” or trickery by students when exams are being held remotely? This feature would enable a fair assessment by teachers.
- Keeping the student engaged – While transitioning to live online courses, schools and teachers are faced with making sure students are still engaged and productive in their courses. In order to successfully engage students in a hybrid and/or remote learning environment, educators must provide the structure to engage non-verbally to build safety and confidence when participating, and the chance to participate in effective small-group discussions around both academic and non-academic content to build meaningful relationships with their peers.
- Data security and privacy – All educational institutions are legally bound to protect and secure all personal data of their students as well as the proprietary data of the school. For any video conferencing app/platform and associated tools to succeed, it must fulfill this essential requirement.
Personify Inc has been facilitating the move to online education through its tools (Presenter and ChromaCam) for online instruction and remote learning. The products undergo constant research, development and improvement to make them better suited to the needs of both educators and students. While there are several platforms dedicated to remote instruction, keeping the students engaged and interested, while remote, is always a challenge. Personify’s products enhance student engagement throughout a class by incorporating and interacting with the teaching material in the virtual classroom environment. For teachers, it can also be something as simple as uploading their presentation slideshow as background with ChromaCam. ChromaCam can be integrated with various other video call applications to take the online classroom experience up, several notches.
The Company is also participating in a number of initiatives to further educational opportunities for lesser privileged children.
PERSONIFY INC. EFFECTIVELY CHECKS OFF DATA SECURITY AND PRIVACY
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. Please contact Personify to learn about the security features and compliance in place.