Sam Tayan, Managing Director at Zoom in the Middle East and Africa, dwells on the future of education.
As different countries implement new restrictions in response to the pandemic with the start of the year, hybrid or blended learning environments have become a key part of providing educational continuity. While schools in Dubai have decided on hybrid classes in-person classes, Abu Dhabi schools have resorted to an extension in distance learning for the safety of students and staff. Globally, school managements are expanding their planning for how they will continue to support hybrid classroom environments post-pandemic, too. Evidently, schools’ needs are different as they opt for different modes of teaching.
Teaching in a hybrid environment is a wholly different experience than in-person instruction. One tip educators suggest is having all students — even those in the physical classroom — join the virtual class from their individual devices. With all students on one platform, teachers can use the various digital tools and features to create an engaging experience for everyone.
The Use of Breakout Rooms
Breakout Rooms facilitate group learning and collaboration between remote and in-person students. Once all students have joined the virtual classroom, teachers can then use Breakout Rooms to give students in class and online the opportunity to socialize, collaborate, and work together, irrespective of their physical location.
Teachers can pre-assign students to breakout rooms before the class, and even set the pre-assigned breakout rooms for recurring meetings for the entire semester. In other cases, randomly assigning students to breakout rooms, may be more beneficial to their learning experience. Ultimately, the choice of how to breakout the students into different groups is up to the teachers, and they can move between rooms for casual discussions, study sessions, or when students ask for help.
The use of Chat
In physical classrooms, students build their speaking skills by interacting vocally with teachers. However, an added benefit of online learning is how students can build on articulating their thoughts through words in the chat-box. Chat enables students with different communication styles to be recognized, especially remote students and those who may not feel comfortable answering out loud. The chat feature of the different platforms allows students to practice not only their spelling and grammar skills, but also communication, typing, and reading skills! Teachers can customize chat settings and disable private chat access. That way, students can only chat publicly with the entire class or send a private message to the teacher.
Getting ground rules for the classroom
Whether it is physical learning, virtual learning, or a mix of both, the students’ learning experience is undergoing several changes. Hybrid learning, for instance, is a new experience for many students and staff alike. Creating rules and guidelines for the hybrid classroom can help set expectations on how students should interact in this environment.
We want to ensure that students are in a place where they can communicate, collaborate, feel safe, and have deeper learning experiences. This is a unique time for the education sector, and as teachers try to figure out ways to engage both the students present in the classroom and ones who are live streaming the sessions online, the process is certainly not an easy one. However, the various technological tools at our disposal can make this challenging experience a fruitful one.