Remote Learning Challenges and Best Practices

Sam Tayan, Managing Director for the Middle East and Africa at Zoom, discusses remote learning challenges and best practices.

Sam Tayan, Managing Director For the Middle East and Africa at Zoom

With over a million students going back to schools in the UAE, the education system sees incremental changes. Parents are still reluctant to send their children to school due to concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Some schools have adopted hybrid teaching models by incorporating a level of distance learning regularly, while others have allowed students to attend classes from a distance.

While remote learning has allowed schools and universities to ensure the wellbeing of their students and staff, many remain skeptical about the quality of education through this new mode. In order not to compromise on quality, the education sector should incorporate platforms that help facilitate the students’ ability to engage with their teachers and classmates online. It is pleasing to see so many features available today on distance-learning platforms that help with engagement, such as virtual seating arrangements, break rooms, presenter spotlight, and reactions. Teachers should make use of such features that not only add moments of fun in lessons but also go beyond the traditional “teacher talks, student listens” format, as well as reduces the now-widened-gap between teachers and students.

Distance learning can prove to be challenging for certain classes more than others; for example, performing arts virtual lessons put great importance on quality of sound. For such classes, Advanced Audio options can produce crystal-clear and excellent sound quality. We always want to make sure students do not feel they are at a disadvantage with eLearning; thus, it is essential that the platforms being used employ such features. (Taken from Zoom blog)

Not only are video communications platforms used during lessons, but students also make use of them to complete group projects and assignment from the comfort – and safety- of their homes. Through these platforms, students should be able to share their weekly schedules and send files easily. For that reason, even schools who welcome back their students to campus full-time or part-time need to ensure that students have all the information they require on how to use video communications platforms and are familiar with security options to safely and effectively work outside of the virtual “class-room”.

Best practices for educators and students during distance learning

The security and privacy of teachers and students is as essential for a virtual classroom as it is for physical classrooms. A safe and secure virtual classroom helps educators teach effectively and productively by minimizing disruptions. This can be ensured by locking the meeting, generating random meeting IDs, and even enabling waiting rooms. There are various other security options educators can utilize in order to prevent safety breaches, such as allow or prohibit screen sharing. Educators should also set aside some time to introduce students to the platform they are using, and make sure that they are familiar with how to enable and disable their audio and video. They should make sure to discuss online etiquette and expectations of the students, just as they would in a physical setting.

School closures due to COVID-19 have significantly increased educators’ reliance on virtual learning environments. We have observed that education sector players in the region are very positive about the ease of using platforms such as Zoom, and the speed with which they can shift towards e-learning without delays and excessive training requirements has been impressive. Also, we have seen several educational institutions use video communications platforms like Zoom to discuss capstone projects and even celebrate graduation ceremonies. Such experiences – albeit different- are memorable and we expect them to continue taking place virtually in the foreseeable future. As video-first unified communications becomes more popular and accessible, we feel a responsibility to help where we can.

Zoom cares about our communities, schools, and all students, and we are happy that our solutions are helping the education sector maintain its momentum during these challenging times.