Learning environment

Hybrid classrooms pave the way for a holistic teaching and learning environment

As the pandemic begins to subside, students are back in the classroom, but many schools have still chosen to keep classes online for the next several semesters.

I have worked with Peter Claxton, our senior director of edtech solutions in Europe, and we have observed that many schools and universities are not considering a full return to in-person teaching due to restrictions on on-site presence. . It is even more difficult for international students with travel restrictions to return to school, so schools and educators are looking to ensure that education remains uninterrupted through blended learning, which combines learning in class and remotely.

In 2020, ViewSonic worked with a leading university in Taiwan to establish our first hybrid classroom, creating a model to demonstrate this new form of education. I would like to share this experience with you, and I hope it will be as instructive for you as it is for us.

A new kind of education

Digital education is not a new concept in education, but the sheer demand and need for it in the wake of the pandemic was something no educational institution could have foreseen. Chung Yuan Christian University (CYCU) in Taiwan was no different. The university had used online education for years with prerecorded videos allowing students to learn asynchronously and remotely. However, teachers have encountered difficulties with these programs because the prerecorded course materials take time to film and edit, are rigid, lack interactivity, and do not address different levels of students.

Realizing the benefits of investing in a blended learning solution early, CYCU sought a solution that would provide a better teaching and learning experience that is not confined to the four walls of a classroom.

Building a holistic blended learning environment

To meet this challenge head-on, CYCU installed and implemented a hybrid classroom on campus. The key factor being to give equal weight to classroom and distance learners by fully integrating online teaching into the physical classroom, where teachers can use their established teaching methods and simultaneously interact with distance students. and in the classroom to bridge the gap between learning and in-person learning.

Considering the fact that many teachers would not have been trained to teach online, an equally important factor is the provision of a simplified and intuitive online teaching platform, where teachers can easily learn. and adopt the technological tools available in the classroom.

Key components of the hybrid class

A successful hybrid classroom relies on a combination of hardware and software designed to seamlessly integrate the physical and digital into a cohesive teaching environment.

At the heart of the hybrid classroom solution is the large interactive touchscreen integrated with digital whiteboard software that allows teachers to present, annotate and collaborate on the screen in real time in a way that is. easily visible in person and distant students. The software is easy to use for teachers and students and fully integrates the interactive capabilities of the screen to help increase student engagement. In tandem with this, the pen display allows teachers to write naturally on a portable screen that instantly projects content onto the large interactive screen at the front of the classroom.

A successful hybrid classroom relies on a combination of hardware and software designed to seamlessly integrate the physical and digital into a cohesive teaching environment

Working in combination with the interactive display, two projectors are also installed in the hybrid classroom to bring distance students, classroom students and the teacher closer to each other by providing real-time video of one of the other during class. Both project images onto the back wall of the classroom and are configured to display distant students on one screen and mirror the whiteboard display on the other. This setup helps bring distant students into the teacher’s physical space and allows the teacher to focus on the lesson or activity and maintain a high level of interactivity with students without having to turn around. back to class.

Of the two cameras installed, one follows the teacher with an automatic pan, while the other records students in the classroom so that distance learning students can see their classmates to make them feel like they are be in the room. Finally, the wireless microphone detects and transmits the teacher’s voice directly to the classroom audio system and the online education system to provide an equally clear audio experience for classroom and distance learners.

A victory for all participants

The results of the hybrid class established at CYCU showed the solution to be a resounding success, opening up new opportunities for schools, teachers and students. Blended learning now has the potential to break down the physical barrier of class size, helping schools with teacher shortages and allowing existing teachers to maintain their preferred teaching methods as education shifts to the digital age. Most importantly, students can continue to learn at times when they cannot be physically present in the classroom.

This success story shows how technology can displace existing teaching methods far beyond the reach of the traditional classroom. In a sense, the hybrid classroom at CYCU marks a milestone in educational technology. Schools can use this hybrid model to develop more innovative education in the post-pandemic era and truly achieve educational equality for all students, regardless of location.

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