Dec 10 2020

Data Shows K–12 Videoconferencing Is Overwhelmingly One on One

With versatile videoconferencing services, teachers can focus on personalized learning for every student.

The “how it started vs. how it’s going” meme has become social media’s shortcut way to acknowledge that nothing in 2020 is going quite as planned. It’s a reminder that the pandemic has upended just about every assumption we had for this year and caused us all to expect the unexpected in the year ahead.

So it goes for remote learning too. With the vast majority of classrooms being taught digitally this year, teachers had to find a way to re-create the learning experience online. To help teachers address this challenge, in September our company added a videoconferencing service to our classroom management program. Our expectation was that this service would primarily be used by teachers to conference with their entire class and provide remote learning instruction similar to teaching in a brick-and-mortar classroom.

Research Revelations: Data Shows How Videoconferencing Is Used in the Classroom

However, our analysis of the data so far shows this isn’t what’s happening. We found that for 78 percent — nearly 8 in 10 — of GoGuardian teacher videoconferencing sessions over the first three weeks of the product’s use, the interaction was one-on-one between a teacher and a student.

Even while teachers were waist deep this fall in the middle of this most challenging of semesters, the data shows they were being tremendously accommodating with their time with students, providing individualized support and making an effort to ensure that every single one of their students was receiving the guidance they needed.

In-person instruction will come back someday. And while I don’t think lecture learning is going to disappear after the pandemic, this data also indicates that the days of “sage on the stage” lecture learning may be relegated to a much smaller fraction of the typical K–12 school day. Instead, the “guide on the side” format that has grown in popularity over the past several decades, with a teacher facilitating a more interactive small group experience, might become the standard instead of the alternative.

MORE ON EDTECH: 5 best practices for managing virtual breakout rooms.

The Growing Influence and Adaptability of Videoconferencing

In addition, I believe that even after this pandemic is behind us, videoconferencing will likely continue to grow in popularity as a learning tool, mostly because it’s just too easy now. While some teachers were already incorporating video into their flipped classrooms even before the pandemic, now tens of thousands of teachers — even those with decades of experience who might have been intimidated by new technologies in the past — have been baptized by fire and have embraced video technology in ways they never expected when this year began. They’re becoming not just proficient in using video, in some cases they’ve become social media stars.

There are other specific ways that one-on-one conferencing is clearly a better alternative to the pre-pandemic in-person format:

Sick days: Whether it’s the student or the teacher who’s afflicted, sick days will always be a part of our school year. But when sick students can easily use videoconferencing (once they’re feeling better) to get caught up on assignments, student makeup work will be much easier to tackle.

Snow days: No, I’m not suggesting we ever get rid of kids’ cherished dreams each winter of a beloved occasional snow day. But when school does return to in-person learning, in the case of extended periods where weather prevents students from getting to school, videoconferencing can allow school administrators to feel more confident that they don’t have to choose between risky winter driving and keeping their curriculum plan on schedule.

Now that the whole world is looking at vaccines as the light at the end of this pandemic tunnel, I’d like for all of us to think about some of the ways we won’t “go back to normal,” not because we don’t want a return to normalcy, but because there are lessons we’ve learned during this pandemic that allow us to instead “go forward to better.” Perhaps one-on-one video instruction can be one of those lessons.

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