Oct 01 2020

The Technologies That Empower Hybrid Learning

With the right tools, teachers can bridge the gap between students learning online and those physically in school.

In the new education environment, issues of digital equity have brought hybrid learning to the fore. Not all kids have robust digital access at home, leading many districts to conclude that at least some kids will have to be physically in school some of the time.

Teachers need new tools to be effective in this hybrid setting to drive participation and collaboration among students. They also need to ensure that every student can be seen and heard regardless of his or her learning location.

“With a few tools, educators don’t have to compromise on their usual teaching style and preferred instructional methods, even when they have students who are in the classroom and others who are remote,” says Madeleine Mortimore, education technology innovation manager at Logitech.

DISCOVER: Boost student engagement during hybrid learning with Logitech’s latest solutions.

How Video Collaboration Technology Creates Shared Classroom Experiences

Technology can help teachers bridge the gap between students learning online and those physically in school.

At Farragut High School in Tennessee’s Knox County, for example, Spanish teacher Allison Maldonado has been using the Logitech MeetUp videoconference camera to get all her students aligned in the new environment.

The device allows for multiple preset camera angles, enabling Maldonado to keep students engaged whether she is teaching from her desk, from the board or elsewhere in the room. “My students can see me wherever I am, and I am able to move around at my choosing,” she says.

By pairing the device with Microsoft Teams, she’s able to connect her students with outside speakers — from medical professionals to law enforcement officers and others — even in a hybrid setting. “I can share a link with them so they can meet us virtually, because I still want to be able to offer my students the knowledge and the wisdom these outside speakers bring to my classroom,” she says.

Having a conference camera that provides a wide-angle view can give educators in the classroom “free range of movement without having to worry about whether they have gone off-angle or out of sight for the students who are tuning in remotely,” Mortimore says.

The videoconference camera’s advanced functionality makes it easy to drive participation and collaboration. It’s one of a number of technologies that can serve this purpose in the hybrid environment.

How Computer Accessories Help Foster Classroom Collaboration

Audio is another key component to the hybrid experience: Students need to be able to hear the teacher and each other, and they need to know that they will also be heard.

“You need to have strong audio capabilities to ensure that wherever you are in the class and however loud you’re talking, students tuning in remotely can hear you clearly,” Mortimore says. “This can really be enhanced by some of the Logitech Blue microphones, which can be placed alongside the conference camera or in the middle of the classroom if the educator is going to be moving freely around the largest space.”

Blue microphones such as the Yeti and Snowball iCE deliver crystal-clear audio with simple plug-and-play functionality.

Teachers in hybrid mode also need to guide the students’ experiences, showing them where to look on a shared screen to glean key information. For this purpose, there’s the Logitech Spotlight, a presentation remote with an advanced pointer and cursor control.

“We’ve seen this be really effective in hybrid environments. The educator is able to focus attention on a smart board, which really helps with the visual cues for students, both in the classroom and tuning in remotely,” Mortimore says.

“Say I’m teaching math and I’m walking my students through the process, referring back to a previous step. Instead of having to spell out this part where I did XYZ, I can quickly capture their attention and point to what exactly I’m referring to,” she says. An emerging line of Logitech mouse devices offers this as a built-in feature.

For students themselves, equity means having an online experience equivalent to the classroom environment. Headsets can help to level the playing field, delivering an intimate and direct audio experience that allows for full student participation.

“With a headset, they can hear what’s going on within the classroom, regardless of what environment they’re in. Headsets also provide clarity of voice, which is really critical for their peers on the other end — both remotely and in the classroom — to hear what they want to express,” Mortimore says.

Likewise, a microphone ensures that those in remote learning environments can hear their in-class peers, even when those peers are scattered around the classroom for purposes of social distancing. By the same token, an external webcam can help in-class students share their work with remote classmates without having to pass around a laptop.

This technology can be especially valuable for younger students, who may already be struggling with new classroom rules and new ways of working at home. “All this technology helps to alleviate some of that additional cognitive load,” Mortimore says. “They’re remote and they’re able to still be seen by their peers and teachers.”

For teachers operating in the new hybrid space, all these technologies can serve as critical supports, empowering them to continue doing what they do best.

“You don’t have to compromise on your instructional methods and ways of teaching,” Mortimore says. “The tools can help unlock and enable those methods of teaching. They help you to do what’s best for both yourself and the students that you’re serving.”

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