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Hybrid learning is key to higher education’s future

The new normal sees a twin-track evolution for teachers and students

The theatres at Harper Adams provide real-time streaming of video, audio and data from campus to campus allowing lectures to be delivered by one person simultaneously in the two locations

The theatres at Harper Adams provide real-time streaming of video, audio and data from campus to campus allowing lectures to be delivered by one person simultaneously in the two locations

The education technology sector continues to perform strongly for the pro-AV industry, with innovative hybrid learning approaches emerging from the strictures of the pandemic.

Established tools such as interactive displays, document cameras and PTZ/web cameras remain in high demand, while devices that enable hybrid learning, such as collaborative tools, UC solutions and audio setups, are also driving investment.

Bringing these together in an intuitive solution that provides the same experience for learners no matter their location is the aim for many institutions.

As Alexandra Parlour, Education Marketing Manager, Sony Professional Displays and Solutions, Sony Europe, explains: “A hybrid approach to learning with a focus on remote teaching will be key for universities. Technologies that capture clear high-quality audio, crisp video, and allow teachers/lecturers to provide interactive seminars and activities will be essential to offer the best possible immersion for students whether they are remote or onsite.”

“Educational institutions need to ensure that students are able to learn and engage from different locations,” according to Madhav Jain, Insights Manager – Education, Sennheiser. “Adopting hybrid learning and new technologies for the effective delivery and consumption of courses has been vital, as has flexibility in adapting courses to ever-changing requirements.”

As students begin to collaborate again, quality imagery and content becomes even more crucial to make sure all students can see the detail and engage in the same way. The instant, collaborative learning environment many became used to with remote learning will need to be replicated on premise.

“Interactive displays are particularly useful because they provide touch-screen capabilities and integration with popular video conferencing software such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams,” says Till Gotterbarm, Product Management and Strategic Partnerships EMEA, Avocor. “This allows educators and students to easily connect and share ideas from wherever they are. These displays also allow students and instructors to share real-time, cloud-based annotations with everyone in a class or study group.”

Jain adds: “Platforms such as Canvas and Blackboard are being mixed together with real-time conference platforms such as Zoom, bringing in-classroom students and teaching staff together with remote participants. Technologies that can help deliver a seamless hybrid learning experience are paramount. Ceiling microphones also encourage a very natural interaction between physical and virtual participants.”

While students have been keen to embrace hybrid learning, the pandemic has also had an impact on how teachers respond to technology and its place in the classroom.

Parlour adds: “The way teachers view technology in the classroom has changed; before the majority were reluctant to be captured on video, they’re now using it to their advantage. Their needs have changed significantly.”

Gotterbarm cites the example of the Adult College of Barking and Dagenham in east London, which was in the process of implementing a technology refresh when the pandemic hit.

“The college was able to switch on remote learning overnight, utilising our Teams platform to continue to deliver teaching. We ensured that no learner was left out, providing those students who might not have access to the internet with wireless dongles and web cameras so teaching staff could still engage visually with students,” explains Aujla Jagdeep, IT Manager at the college. The facility maintained 90% of all its lessons through the first wave of restrictions.

Looking to the future, Parlour says: “By combining the latest in projector and LFD technology, and considering carefully how and where each product will work best both for impact and cost effectiveness, IT teams can ensure maximum collaboration and efficiency for students.”

Jaid concludes: “We believe that a hybrid model is here to stay. Online learning is a potential source of additional revenue and a key component of strategic plans for academic continuity and the resilience of educational institutions.”

Be part of the transformation and support the learning community by booking onto the Digital Learning Summit here.

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