Education continuity: Create an in-class experience remotely

Greg Kovich
April 20, 2021

Rainbow Classroom helps teachers collaborate in-person, remotely, or in a hybrid environment, protects their privacy, and enables professional development.

In my last blog I relayed the experiences of two teachers – Don and Emma – and the challenges they have faced teaching in a virtual environment. In this blog I’m sharing some insights, from my many years in the industry, on how to use technology to effectively engage students while teaching remotely. Let’s look at Rainbow™ Classroom by Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise as an example in this scenario.

Rainbow classroom blog #2 blog body image

Don and Emma’s first concern was how to regain control of their classrooms. They need their classrooms to be ready for teaching and learning by eliminating or addressing any potential distractions. The first way to address this is by improving the remote learning environment, because I believe that an engaged student is a learning student.

When presented with new features or procedures, students tend to explore the capabilities. Any elementary school computer lab supervisor will tell you that for the first few sessions most students will explore everything they can, as loudly as they can! My advice to Emma and Don was to ask the school district to deploy conferencing tools integrated into the Learning Management System platform (LMS). This would help eliminate any “precocious student novelty investigation” because they would already be familiar with the interface.

I also suggested that instructors use the security tools native to the conferencing application to create the classroom environment they feel is best for suited to their class and teaching style.

• Mute the class on entry – done!

• Grant features to individual students with special needs or Independent Education Plans (IEP) – done!

Now when students attend class, it’s customized based on the instructors’ rules and control.

Next on the list of things to consider is attendance. Beyond the normal workload of grading and planning, teachers working remotely face extra tasks that are unique to distance learning, such as manually recording attendance. By embedding communication tools into the existing LMS, attendance can be recorded automatically. In fact, instructors can capture more detailed information including; attempts to join the class, total time the student was present, and how engaged they were in class discussions. This is useful data that can empower student success and help identify those who are in need of help or academic intervention. Students forgetting to join the class, or any confusion created by varied start times can be eliminated by having the embedded communications platform automatically ‘call’ the student when the teacher starts the class.

Equality is an important consideration whenever a school district offers in-person (synchronous) or on-line (asynchronous or synchronous) instruction. Asynchronous remote learners are often at a disadvantage and miss much of the rich context that synchronous students get.  To address this, it’s important that the communications platform is able to record all lessons – including whiteboarding and screensharing. Additionally, ongoing chats and shared files should be available for the duration of a semester when a student is enrolled in a class.

Privacy is another important topic. Prior to shifting to 100% remote learning, parent/teacher conferences were conducted in-person or using a school desk phone. Since the onset of the health crisis, these conferences have been initiated by the teacher, from their home phone or personal cell phone. With an embedded communications platform the school district can extend the teacher’s desk phone to their home, to protect their privacy.

The last topic Emma and Don mentioned was professional development. Remote learning has created a critical need for training to learn more about how to teach in our new normal. Teaching is typically a lone profession. While there is student interaction, colleague interaction is often limited to chatting and sharing experiences during common planning periods, during lunch, or after class. Working from home has eliminated those interactions and magnified the isolation.

During our discussion I shared information about Rainbow Classroom and how its connector for LMS platforms embeds collaboration and communications tools to provide teachers with full control over the features (video, voice, chat, file and screen sharing) they need to successfully conduct a remote classroom. Rainbow Classroom integrates telephony capabilities into the district’s PBX*, Microsoft Teams® or Google G-Suite to enable whiteboarding, grouping, automatic attendance, engagement scoring, chat, shared file history, selective feature enablement, and recording of shared content for each class.

For more information about Rainbow Classroom, please visit us at our Rainbow Classroom page.

Greg Kovich

Greg Kovich

Global Sales Lead, Education Vertical

Greg Kovich leads global sales for ALE’s Education vertical.  Greg has overseen or created several Education solutions including “The Fundamentals of Communications” – a vendor neutral course on digital network communications; “Safe Campus” – a solution uniting emergency alerts with first responder collaboration and mass notification; “Secure Campus” – a solution that allows instructors to limit student network access to determined sites; and “Pandemic Education Continuity” – a solution that enables classroom instruction in the event the institution is closed due to health or environmental crisis. 

He is a 1992 graduate of Indiana University with over 20 yrs experience in Information Technology.

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