Mar 11 2021

What It Takes to Get Hybrid Instruction Right

For a successful hybrid learning environment, educators need the best classroom tools today and in the future.

When school districts went fully remote in response to COVID-19, the need for immediate technology — any technology — often superseded the need to choose the right long-term technology. Now, as more schools adopt hybrid learning models, school districts have learned more about what it takes amplify lessons for students both in class and at home.

Even after the pandemic subsides, hybrid learning will continue to evolve the K–12 education landscape. Recorded and transcribed lessons, for instance, are already increasing accessibility in the classroom. Moving forward, educators must consider the future of their districts in order to implement successful hybrid learning plans, whether for next year or in the years after.

IT directors should take into account how classes are being taught in their schools and which technology solutions have the best long-term benefits. Technology is never a one-size-fits-all endeavor but rather a collection of best practices leading to the best solution. These tips can help educators make the best decisions on tech for their hybrid classrooms.

Use the Right Equipment for Hybrid Learning

When it comes to hybrid instruction, audio and visual components are crucial. After all, the goal of any equipment in a hybrid model is to make teaching as natural and seamless as possible for educators and students alike.

As such, teachers in a hybrid setting shouldn’t be confined to their desks when presenting lessons to students. They need microphones and cameras that function smoothly even as they move around the classroom.

Cameras that track movement are key to capturing all parts of a lesson for many educators. The various tracking functions of AVer’s TR310 and TR530 cameras, for instance, are popular among educators. Their capabilities include presenter tracking, multipresenter detection, zone tracking and other features that allow educators to choose the best settings for their classrooms.

Other cameras, like the Jabra PanaCast, provide a wide-angle view of the classroom, capturing everything within 180 degrees. The camera processes all of the images so as not to tax a computer more than a regular camera.

LEARN MORE: Create flexible hybrid classrooms with audiovisual tools.

Microphone types vary and can address particular classroom needs. There are USB solutions that combine microphone and speaker capabilities, like the AudioCodes 457. This is especially useful for hybrid learning because it projects the sound not only to remote students, but also to students in the classroom who may have trouble understanding a teacher speaking through a mask. Teachers can also use lavalier-style microphones that allow for more mobility in a classroom.

For teachers providing instruction in a large lecture hall or a noisy setting, microphones with audio fencing are a must. These microphones automatically obscure or eliminate background noise, capturing sound only within a certain boundary, such as, for example, the front of a classroom.

Audio fencing is increasingly beneficial for hybrid instruction as teachers find unique spaces in which to operate. These mics help cut down on echo in a large gymnasium and can reduce white noise in an outdoor classroom setting.

Poly’s Poly Studio video bar device combines a motion-tracking camera with an audio-fencing microphone. What was formerly the job of two devices can now be achieved with one. By eliminating low-quality audio and visuals in hybrid learning environments, students can focus on the lessons and teachers can focus on their students.

DIVE DEEPER: Remote learning informs the future of education infrastructure.

Educators Embrace Flexible Technology Solutions

Technology solutions that enable flexibility often have the biggest impact among educators. Finding ways to use technology beyond the traditional classroom allows technology — and the teachers using it — to have a wider reach.

Videoconferencing makes learning easier for students with individualized lesson plans. Recorded lessons help students review material or catch up on missed classwork. Now that schools have embraced advanced audiovisual technology in the classroom, it’s unlikely that these tools will be discarded once fully in-person classes resume.

Additionally, a district’s technology investments can be used beyond the classroom. The same equipment works for simulcasting board meetings and for supporting ongoing professional development.

Another flexible solution in successful hybrid classrooms has been cart-based technology. Cart-based technology keeps devices mobile and makes those devices easier to sanitize. Instead of having to cordon off a room of permanently installed technology, the cart can be removed, cleaned and returned without disrupting classes.

This type of mobility is critical because, as mentioned above, today’s teachers often find themselves presenting from unusual spaces. While a gym might not have the permanent technology an educator needs, a cart-based solution allows that technology to be brought into the space.

Districts must consider technology solutions that are flexible enough to provide value now and for the future of K–12 education. These considerations are critical to success in the hybrid learning environment.

This article is part of the “ConnectIT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology” series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #ConnectIT hashtag.

[title]Connect IT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology

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