LMS? Check. Video conferencing solution? Check. Video Management System? Check. So, now you have what we call “the Big Three” – the technological backbone for any virtual classroom. With your infrastructure now in place, how do you make best use of it so that your virtual classroom can truly be a place of teaching, learning, and social connections?

Asynchronous learning experiences and the use of video are a central feature of a successful virtual classroom. In talking with our customers, which include public and private universities around the globe, we have heard about many different ways to use video to improve learning outcomes, increase accessibility, and create a much-needed sense of community. In our webinar, “Acing the Virtual Classroom with Asynchronous Video,” our colleague Chris Alibaruho further explains the foundational role video plays.

Whether your classes are fully virtual or hybrid, here are six strategies that can help you succeed:

Flipped Classroom

While the flipped classroom is not a new phenomenon, flipping a virtual classroom is a recent pandemic-driven development as schools shift to online learning.

Flipped classrooms start with one central question, according to Jonathan Bergmann, Pioneer of the flipped classroom pedagogy: “What is the best use of my face-to-face class time?“ In a remote environment, this “face-to-face class time” may materialize as synchronous video conferencing like Zoom. Either way, when students watch a flipped video covering a topic prior to meeting in person or via Zoom, class time can then be used for discussion and debate as opposed to a one-way lecture. In remote learning environments, where students are more likely to face distractions and lose concentration, using synchronous tools to interact with students is a good use of that precious time.

In flipped videos, teachers can ask students to think about a question for discussion when they come to class in person or via Zoom. They can also embed questions and quizzes to ensure that students are mastering the material. Video analytics of the flipped classes can also alert teachers to what materials the students are viewing, where they are stalling, and whether or not they are preparing for the synchronous sessions.

HyFlex Learning

HyFlex means that each class is offered in three modalities: in-person, online synchronously, and online asynchronously. This model gives teachers flexibility to seamlessly shift their classes to 100% online if needed, such as during public health crises, natural disasters, and periods of political and civic unrest.

The HyFlex approach also supports a diverse student community and enables a more inclusive learning environment. For example, students juggling work and family commitments can participate and learn in the way that best meets their needs.

While HyFlex learning has many advantages, even the strongest advocates of the model agree that, without proper planning, it can be difficult to do well. It is challenging to engage students both in person and online, while also creating rich asynchronous learning experiences. Moreover, HyFlex requires upfront investment to acquire the necessary technology and to learn how to use it effectively.

With solutions like Panopto, which have seamless integrations with Learning Management Systems (LMS), and video conferencing technology, these challenges can be overcome. Cloud-based solutions like Panopto don’t require any extra hardware, and during this pandemic, teachers and students have become much more flexible and capable of meeting students where they are, in whatever setting they can join.

Student Video Projects

In virtual classrooms, live student presentations can become a challenge: students aren’t physically in class to work on group projects or present in front of their classmates. Video projects, however, provide a good opportunity for students to collaborate and showcase their knowledge on a particular topic. Alternatively, students can submit presentations to their teachers via video that they have recorded on their own.

Student video projects help students solidify their grasp of a body of knowledge and offer an alternative and creative way to communicate that information, be it to their teachers or to their entire class. Video-based presentations are also a great way for students to focus on a specific area in greater detail and practice presentation skills.

Video presentations can be done using a combination of asynchronous and synchronous tools. If a student is working on an individual presentation, they can record and share the content with their classmates or instructor using Panopto. In instances where several students are working on a project together, students can record the content in Zoom with several students joining from their respective locations and then upload the recording to Panopto for editing, sharing, and storage.

Channel Your Inner YouTube

In the old days, ie. prior to the pandemic, video was something most people wanted to perfect prior to sharing with the world. Those interested in producing video for education or for fun would invest in expensive equipment, lighting, microphones, etc. In today’s world, however, where video production is easily accessible to nearly everyone, we tend to judge videos based on authenticity versus production quality. We have heard from customers that students prefer imperfect videos to perfectly-produced video content that seems more staged.

YouTubers often ask for feedback in the comments, which helps prompt their followers to interact with their content. Similarly, when creating educational video content for your virtual classroom, asking for feedback or questions during or at the end of the video is a good way to interact with students and refine your content. Just like on YouTube, video management platforms such as Panopto provide valuable analytics that can show you when students stopped watching the video, what sections students had to replay, how many students watched the video to the end, etc. This data can deliver rich insight about how to improve your video content.

Asynchronous Wednesdays

Here at Panopto, we have instituted what we call “Asynch Wednesday,” which is a meeting-free day for employees. We have found that having one day a week that is free from the interruptions of attending meetings offers our team the much-needed time to focus more deeply on a particular project or complete concentration-intensive activities.

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, found that the typical office worker (prior to the pandemic) is interrupted or switches tasks roughly, every three minutes and five seconds. And it can take 23 minutes and 15 seconds just to get back to where they left off. With the global pandemic forcing many professionals to work from home, the concurrent management of work and non-work responsibilities has only increased the number of interruptions.

Students in virtual classrooms who are juggling synchronous classes, homework, and the distractions of their home environment may also encounter frequent interruptions and find it difficult to concentrate on completing discrete tasks.

Devoting one day of the school week to asynchronous activities — catching up on missed lectures, working on research projects, or studying for a test — can help students stay on top of their various assignments and avoid Zoom fatigue.

Introduction Videos

Another Panopto tradition that would work well in virtual classrooms is introduction videos. When a new employee joins Panopto, they record a video that introduces who they are, where they come from, their prior work experience, and their passion points. Some are short and simple, others more elaborate. Through these videos, employees in Seattle get to know a new hire in Sydney and possibly realize they share a passion for cooking, or that they lived in the same city at one point in time. In today’s virtual working world, employees in the same city who have yet to meet in-person may get to know each other through these intro videos.

Similarly, students at the beginning of the year could make their own videos to share with teachers or classmates. This is a great way for a student to present themselves and share a little about who they are in a controlled setting, at their own pace. During a live Zoom class, students may not want to talk about themselves extemporaneously, but when given the opportunity to put a few slides together and record a video in advance, many will welcome the opportunity. These videos enable students to learn a lot about each other in a relatively short amount of time, which is especially helpful at the beginning of the year or semester.

As you plan for the upcoming school year and contemplate ways to navigate the hybrid world of face-to-face classes with remote learning, consider trying some of these strategies.

CASE STUDY: Learn how OneSchool Global integrated Panopto with Canvas and Zoom to create a seamless digital ecosystem>