Finding Long-Term Video Solutions for Hybrid Classrooms and School Systems

Returning students to in-person classes while maintaining social distancing creates an opportunity to embrace a hybrid classroom model of online and in-person instruction.

Nothing can replace student and teachers being in the classroom together. However, the pandemic has brought education at all levels to a pivotal point. We have an opportunity to explore e-learning to support traditional classroom models. Let’s discuss the tools needed for this exploration: online video platforms.

Pivoting from Emergency Remote Teaching to Hybrid Education

What is Emergency Remote Teaching (ERT)

The COVID-19 pandemic abruptly shuttered schools. It gave most teachers days to transition to online learning. Students, teachers, parents, and support staff made a valiant effort to quickly adapt to a virtual education process. Educause calls that scenario “emergency remote teaching.”

At DiscoverVideo we reached out to our clients and helped teachers keep curriculum continuity. Even though the location of student and teacher had changed, their video resources were accessible from anywhere.

Many of the nation’s school districts were given high marks for the stop-gap measure. However parents and educators have grave concerns about the long-term effects of remote teaching without thoughtful planning.

That planning will likely include some sort of “flexible” in-person (or at least personalized) and online instruction.

What is a Hybrid Classroom?

A hybrid classroom is any scenario where there are multiple delivery systems. It can be in-person instruction or assistance with online lectures or coursework. For instance, New York City’s 1.1 million public school students are considering alternating 5 days at school over a three-week schedule to accommodate social distancing.

For some a hybrid is synchronous online time with instructors and asynchronous video-on-demand lectures, or vice versa.

Another scenario is splitting a class into sections; some with the teacher in the regular classroom, and the rest simultaneously meeting in another classroom, or at home. Some will stream and/or web conference the live class. The goal might be to have “synchronous” classrooms, but “asynchronous” may be more practical or accessible.

Hybrid Classroom Options Diagram
A Hybrid Classroom Accommodates Synchronous and Asynchronous Instruction

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a running list of how schools are reopening for the fall semester. As of late-July, 2020, only 16% had declared using a hybrid model and almost 30% of US colleges and universities had not yet announced their plan.

US College and University Fall 2020 Reopening Plans
US College and University Fall 2020 Reopening Plans

Designing Effective Online Education

It’s a given that online education will play a big role in hybrid classrooms. Once schools figure out the where and the how to deliver teaching, the most difficult part is designing the “what.”

Jesse Stommel, Executive Director of Hybrid Pedagogy and Senior Lecturer in Digital Studies at University of Mary Washington, summarizes the current opportunity best:

“With digital pedagogy and online education, our challenge is not to merely replace (or offer substitutes for) face-to-face instruction, but to find new and innovative ways to engage students in the practice of learning.”

National Standards for Quality Online Learning
National Standards for Online Learning Can Assure Better Outcomes

The largest part of pivoting from ERT to effective online education, involves careful instructional design and planning, and a systematic model for design and development. This means that school districts and teachers are spending the summer reforming their curriculum, ideally to meet the National Standards for Quality Online Learning. These standards include:

  • professional responsibilities
  • digital pedagogy
  • community building
  • learner engagement
  • digital citizenship
  • diverse instruction
  • assessment and measurement, and
  • instructional design.
Free Video Platforms for Online Learning and Hybrid Classes

“Free” Tools vs Swiss Army Knives

A critical piece of successful online learning is using a robust platform that supports these standards, and a manufacturer who supports the process and participants.

There are a few reasons why “free” tools are not long-term solutions to hybrid classrooms.

  • Privacy and security – It is important to keep student and teacher data protected, and their online experience safe from predators and inappropriate content. Non-subscription apps only appear free. If you are not paying with dollars, then you are the product, paying with the data of your user profile. One could also argue the larger the provider the bigger the hacking target, putting entire school systems and its users’ information at risk.
  • Usability – Signing on to multiple platforms can frustrate users, especially those that lose track of usernames and passwords. Online learning is still relatively new and navigational conventions are still being worked out. What makes sense to a teacher who became technology literate in 2010, vs a student who was born in 2010, will likely be very different. Frustrations with technology can adversely affect the outcome of the lesson.
  • Long-term costs – At some point, your data will not be enough, and they will charge you. Think of the disruption and lost learning when an entire district of users must switch to another tool because the ongoing subscription is not in the budget and no longer affordable.
  • Technical Support – Being able to communicate with a human instead of a chat bot about technical issues, or best practices for your online education process, is probably the most cost effective feature of private video server platforms. That kind of technical support generally does not come with free access.

Privacy, security, usability, long-term budgeting, and reliable support are the main reasons that you want to have a “Swiss Army knife” platform.

  • This is an all-in-one solution, with a single sign on.
  • It can stream live lessons, record them, and accommodate web conferencing, for synchronous classes.
  • It can provide video on-demand for self-directed or asynchronous learning.
  • It should also be flexible enough to support online learning outside the firewall, and in-school streaming and collaboration inside the firewall.
  • It should be a good digital citizen and easily integrate with online curriculum and assessment tools.

Examples of world-class all-in-one video platform solutions would be DiscoverVideo’s DEVOS, Kaltura , Ensemble, Panopto, and Yuja.

What Students and Teachers Need for Online and Hybrid Classes to Succeed

A recent survey of U.S. higher education’s immediate priorities and response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, highlights the concerns and insights faced by higher ed finishing the Spring 2020 academic term. The survey, in partnership with six leading academic organizations, polled more than 800 U.S. higher education faculty and administrators, from over 600 different institutions.

Many of the things that participants said would be helpful – like how to support students, access to online materials, webinars, resource portals, and technical instruction – are best served through an interactive and video-on-demand platform.

What Teachers Need for Successful Online Instruction

Meanwhile, 54% of students polled at British Columbia University valued the flexibility of online classes and the availability of their instructors, even though they missed the social interaction and “normalcy” of in-person classes.

What students need to succeed with online education

Again, a comprehensive online video platform and hybrid model gives schools the best options to meet students’ needs.

When Schools Reopen: Preparing for a Future of Online Education

Currently there is no nationwide consensus about students going back to school. In one May survey to K-12 parents across the US, 67% said they think schools should remain closed until there is no health risk, even if it means students fall behind. But a statement from New York’s Mayor Bill DeBlasio says their Department of Education survey said 75% of parents want schools to reopen.

As COVID-19 cases explode in Florida, the Florida Education Association pushed back against mandates for in-person instruction to “safeguard the health and welfare of public school students, educators and the community at large.” Schools that reopened in India, Georgia and Mississippi had to quarantine students and staff within hours of the first bell.

Meanwhile, the results from students for and against the new methodology vary based on their age, motivation, and support needs. Science, art, and sports teachers are getting creative to keep students engaged with at-home experiments and projects and outdoor gatherings.

Ironically, as much as things change, they stay the same; Benedict Carey, reported in the NY Times, “virtual education will depend for its success on old-school principles: creative, attentive teaching, and patient support from parents.”

Family Support Still a Critical Piece of Education
Family Support Still a Critical Piece of Education

Best Practices for Transitioning to Hybrid Classrooms

Regardless of when and how schools reopen, and how the stakeholders feel about it, online learning is here to stay. Balancing the needs of students, families, teachers, and the economy demands pivoting to a hybrid model of online and in-person interaction. Using a comprehensive and trusted online video platform, like our DEVOS, is the best way to accommodate our quickly transforming education system.

DiscoverVideo is helping millions of students and teachers across the United States use video in and out of the classroom. Use the expertise in our whitepaper on finding the right video platform for your school system (link to landing page).

Download Hybrid Classroom Best Practices Guide

About DiscoverVideo

DiscoverVideo is a US-based leading software, hardware, and services provider for broadcasting and delivering live and on-demand video, presentations, and digital signage. We focus on the enterprise where network citizenship and security are crucial. We support all five screens and a complete video ecosystem. Our customers include educational institutions, schools, corporations, and local, state, and federal governments.