Competing with the Internet
2020 made distance and online learning an instant reality for schools and universities across South Africa and around the world. With distance and online learning now seen as a viable option for the hybrid education models of the future, educators have to up their game and do a lot better than simply presenting classes seated in front of an onboard laptop Web cam. “In effect, teachers have to compete with the entire Internet for their classes’ attention,” says Simon Dudley, Director of Product Strategy for the Video Collaboration business at Logitech.
Dudley points out that even adults find themselves distracted by e-mails, social media and online content while participating in conference calls. “Students and children are even more easily sidetracked, and there is so much colourful and entertaining multimedia content online to distract them from their lessons,” he says.
“When teachers are competing with quality video content on the Internet for attention, they have to ensure that the video and audio equipment they are using for lessons is good quality,” says Dudley. “This includes using a noise cancelling headset and microphone to block unwanted background noise and ensure students hear only what they need to hear. Teachers should also be equipped with high-resolution Web cams featuring auto-adjust light settings at the very least. Ideally, their Web cams or conference cams should also enable them to move around the classroom, write on the board and demonstrate things to their students.”
Creating a natural classroom experience is important in keeping students engaged, says Logitech. This can be achieved simply and easily; for example, by using the Logitech Meetup camera presets to zoom, pan and tilt. The Meetup camera remote controls allow teachers to instantly switch between a wide angle view of the classroom, or to zoom in to the board or the teacher’s desk. Logitech’s newer products automatically frame and zoom in on the teacher, allowing the teacher to more easily move around the class and get on with the job of teaching, he says.
In addition, tools like Logitech Crayon let educators navigate their screens live, work out problems or lessons on an iPad, or even collaborate directly with students – all while staying mobile.
Logitech customer St Michael’s College School in Ontario, Canada, was quick to mobilise staff in a home environment when the pandemic struck last year. The school adopted a hybrid learning model in which students attend classes on alternate days, and wanted a solution that kept students engaged even when they attended classes remotely from home. The school implemented the Logitech Rally Plus solution: a plug-and-play video conferencing solution that is compatible with Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet. The solution includes ultra-HD cameras with automated pan, tilt and zoom, with high quality Rally speakers and mic pods to ensure that everyone is heard. With a large wall-mounted TV that allows teachers to see the home-based students on screen while they walk around the classroom, the system allows students at home to feel fully connected to the classroom. The school reports that the system has been effective in helping teachers engage, entertain and empower students.
Another Logitech customer, Señora Allison Maldonado, an Advanced Placement Spanish teacher at Farragut High School in Knoxville, Tennessee, harnessed a combination of the Logitech Brio 4K Webcam to use for video collaboration and as a document camera, the Logitech Zone Wireless headset, Logitech MeetUp for video collaboration in the classroom, the Logitech K780 Multi-device Wireless Keyboard, an MX Anywhere 2S Mouse, a Spotlight presenter, a Logitech Crayon for digital whiteboarding, a WONDERBOOM 2 speaker to share Spanish music, and a Logitech Slim Folio for her iPad. She has been able to extend access to her advanced Spanish courses, maximise her productivity and optimise learning experiences for all students, regardless of location.
In addition to using the best quality technology, teachers also need to limit class time and keep remote lessons as interactive as possible to hold students’ attention. This means encouraging questions and answers, running polls if possible, and making use of whiteboards and shared screens to demonstrate concepts. Thinking out of the box to take students on virtual field trips, or to include guest speakers via conference calls, can also help to enrich the learning experience.