With the recent surge in Omicron coronavirus cases, it’s clear that COVID-related virtual learning is still very much a reality. In the past few weeks, a number of schools have transitioned classrooms or entire institutions to remote or hybrid learning.

It’s 2022, and the next wave of remote and hybrid learning is here. Is your school prepared to continue engaging students remotely? Whether it’s right now or sometime in the near future, schools need to make sure they’re set up for virtual learning success.

What schools need for an optimal remote or hybrid learning experience

Virtual learning will be a part of higher education moving forward, so it’s no longer an option to not have a seamless system in place. Begin by taking stock of what is working and what is not. Now is the time to make changes, not when you’re in absolute crisis mode. 

To start, schools need to have the “big three” technology building blocks: a learning management system (LMS), video conferencing, and a video management system (VMS). 

  • The LMS acts as a central hub for course materials and communications. 
  • Video conferencing provides a way for students and instructors to engage in synchronous learning and interact online in real time. 
  • A VMS is the asynchronous learning solution, in which students can access classes anytime, anywhere. It is also the centralized location to securely create, share, and manage video content.

For optimal virtual learning, a school needs all three systems. This combination allows students to have an integrated learning experience. Most VMS have ways to support live video conferencing and LMS. But the best systems have technology that interoperates seamlessly. Instructors and students don’t have to think about how the three parts connect or how content is shared between them; it simply happens. 

With an integrated VMS, synchronous classes taught using video conferencing solutions from Zoom, Teams, WebEx and others are automatically recorded and uploaded, and then automatically shared to the LMS. Integrated VMS features offer robust search capabilities, broaden accessibility with video captioning, and make sure content is secure. Schools that adopt and integrate their “big three” will be able to maintain continuity of education, whether students are learning in the classroom or remotely.

Things to consider: partner, places, and people

If you’re looking to put an integrated system in place, or take steps to better streamline workflows, it all starts with the partners you use. When it comes to a VMS, schools need to choose a partner that can make changes and scale quickly. The ideal VMS partner will show a commitment to customer service and support every step of the process—from implementation and beyond.

A partner like Panopto integrates with all major LMS providers, including Backboard, Brightspace, Canvas, Cornerstone, Moodle, and more. And it integrates with all of the leading video conferencing solutions. Using a cloud-based network, Panopto provides secure access from any location and automates the recording, uploading, and sharing of content. 

Next, your school will need to ensure that classrooms are ready and that teachers are able to teach from home. Over time, VMSs have evolved and grown so that a single VMS platform like Panopto supports both computers and classroom hardware, thus giving maximum flexibility. Whether instructors are teaching from home or in the classroom, the right VMS should work across all legacy and new hardware.

It’s critical to get instructors up to speed. Training on how to adapt courses for remote learning will ensure all instructors, whether they have virtual teaching experience or not, are prepared. Online course design can expand their teaching toolbox to include recorded lectures, live lectures, live group discussions, student video assignments, video feedback, virtual office hours, and more.

How teachers can prepare for virtual learning

These days, asynchronous class creation is much more than recording lectures and sharing them with students. Instructors who are best positioned for remote and hybrid learning will take care to design their course and video content so it’s most effective. In a few steps, they can establish a process and product that works well for themselves and their students.

  • Determine a course design that is suited to the material. How will you blend asynchronous and synchronous learning? 
  • Decide on a format for your video content: record a presentation, show notes or drawings, move through slides with a voice-over, or use any combination.
  • Assess your equipment, sound and lighting. These aspects will ensure that your video is clear and easy to understand.
  • Build your video content. Edit it to be concise, perhaps breaking larger lessons into microlearning sessions. Find ways to stay connected and engage students with interactive elements like quizzes and discussions.
  • Add captioning and supplemental materials to increase accessibility and reach all types of learners.
  • Continue to optimize and improve the course, based on viewing statistics and student feedback.

Transitioning to remote or hybrid learning can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. The nature of the world today requires instructors to be ready to teach students even when they can’t be in the same location. With an integrated system, instructors can worry less about technology and focus more on engaging students in a new way.

Now is the time

While the pandemic presents ongoing challenges, this time is also an opportunity to elevate the teaching and learning experience and enhance the quality of learning already offered at your school. 

Synchronous learning options are no longer enough. Asynchronous is now a critical part of higher education. To make asynchronous learning possible, schools need an integrated system that includes its LMS, a video conferencing solution, and a VMS. One bright point of pandemic-era learning is that students have experienced the benefits of asynchronous learning and found success with it—and now, they are demanding it be a part of their education moving forward.

EdTech teams must be prepared to pivot. But it doesn’t have to be done as an emergency response in the face of school closures. Take action now—this is a time to proactively set your school up for success moving forward, no matter what the future holds.

Published: January 31, 2022