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Thursday, June 28, 2018

How Innovative Universities Make Distance Learning Accessible and Engaging | EDUCAUSE Review

Learn how IT professionals from innovative institutions are using the Meeting Owl, an all-in-one smart conferencing camera, to make online classrooms more engaging and effective.

Here's another interesting article from EDUCAUSE Review, published by Bethany Cartwright, Marketing Manager at Owl Labs. 

Increasing access to education is no easy feat. Among the many issues affecting accessible education are geographic and cost barriers for both students and universities. But increasing access to distance education, all the while making online classrooms more engaging and collaborative? That task seems impossible. 

Or at least it was impossible, until schools like Chadron State College and Kansas State University—leaders in the distance learning space—innovated to make it possible.

As of last year, over six million students were enrolled in distance education courses. These online courses are not just being provided by for-profit universities or exclusive online-only programs. In fact, online classroom enrollment has increased at both public and private nonprofit universities over the last few years while enrollment has decreased at for-profit universities.

As more institutions increase their online offerings, new pedagogical and technological questions arise: Are lecture-based, asynchronous online courses enough? How can you enable synchronous online learning so that professors and students can engage from different locations?

For Chadron State College and Kansas State University (KSU), these questions aren't just hypothetical. They are dire problems that must be figured out in order to serve remote students and connect multiple campuses.

Luckily, both universities found an affordable, smart camera that has transformed their remote-enabled classrooms for the better...

How to Implement Engaged Distance Learning on Your Own Campus
Traditional, in-person classrooms are not the only way to provide education. As more students opt for remote learning and more schools build new campuses, connecting students and instructors has gotten more difficult.

As one KSU instructor noted, "Educational technology is in high demand. I appreciate the inclusion and research of the effectiveness of the 360-degree camera and how its use impacts the classroom experience."

But with the right technology, it's possible to create an experience that is just as engaging as in-person classrooms.

Here are a few tips and technologies to make it happen at your own institution:
  • Use a learning management system like Canvas or Blackboard to allow students and instructors to connect outside of the classroom. An LMS allows classrooms to upload materials like course presentations, documents, and more. 
  • Don't sacrifice the human-to-human connection. Invest in videoconferencing software like Zoom or Webex to allow synchronous classrooms to connect online. Most videoconferencing technologies include recording features that can be uploaded to your LMS and used for asynchronous classrooms as well. 
  • Make sure you have the audio and visual technology to make engaged distance learning possible. Make sure the technology you do use can truly capture the engagement in a room, not just show a partial window into what's happening. It doesn't have to cost a fortune. Both Chadron State College and Kansas State University found the Meeting Owl to be the most engaging audio and visual solution at the best price point.

Source: EDUCAUSE Review