Published: 03rd June 2020
Setting the Synchronous Stage: What will be the ‘New Normal’ in learning?
The following article has been prepared based on a collection of white papers written on the best practices in the usage of videoconferencing applications for teaching
The outbreak of the Coronavirus disease has forced people across the world to rethink and reposition their daily lives from school to entertainment. Access to Commercial Collaboration Services have turned out be the need of the hour. Collaboration services allow their customers to communicate with two or more people via internet-enabled text, voice and video with additional features such as file sharing. As per a recent research report published by Report Ocean, the Global Video conferencing market is estimated to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.2% for the forecast period 2019-2026.
According to a recent report published by the World Economic Forum, while
the COVID-19 infection rates differ between countries, worldwide there are currently more
than 1.2 billion children in 186 countries affected by school closures due to the pandemic
outbreak. The education system across the globe has transformed dramatically with the
distinctive rise of e-learning. The teaching process is undertaken remotely through digital
platforms, where physical classrooms are now converted to virtual e-classroom spaces. Video conferencing applications have currently been viewed as the ultimate solution by many educational institutions to connect with their students in real time.
Interactions in online learning platforms could be humanised by adding a synchronous component to it. Synchronous learning enables a learner to have real-time interactions with his/her classmates and instructor at a specific virtual place, through a specific online medium, at a specific time. From K-12 education classrooms to universities, to the board rooms of principals and university administrators, the impact of video connections cannot be understated.
It is important that the education policy makers across the globe reconsider and reframe the traditional model of teaching and learning. The seamless integration of classroom learning with e-learning modes have to be ensured to build a unified learning system. Educational technology reforms in India should be revamped to enable the smooth integration of technology to the Indian education system, which is the largest in the world with more than 15 lakh schools and 50,000 higher education institutions.
The transition to digital mode of learning was certainly disruptive as it wasn't planned. The
pandemic has disrupted the higher education sector with significant impacts on the academic
calendar, course completions, examination schedules, admission procedures, entrance
examinations and other activities that were to be held during this period. Short-term impact of
the pandemic outbreak in India alone has been primarily on the issues related to facilitation of
continuity of learning for more than 285 million young learners in the country that also
engenders far-reaching economic and societal consequences.
Most universities across the globe were unprepared to switch to the online mode at the time of government notifications with regard to the lockdown. The pandemic has significantly transformed the chalk–talk teaching model to those that are driven by technology. The new distributed learning environment could also cause students to feel isolated and disconnected by the physical distance separating them. To counter this, it is important that the instructors and the institutions remain connected with each student to keep them motivated and involved in continuing the courses offered with the expected rigor.
Tips to instructors handling classes through Web conferencing applications
- Recognize the online classroom environments, its possibilities and limitations.
- Ensure to have proper internet connectivity and bandwidth for both the faculty and
- Familiarise with the layout of the environment and sufficient preparation and
- rehearsals can enable quality delivery
- Establish and communicate ground rules and guidelines for videoconferencing
- Develop innovative ways for the use of communication and collaboration tools such
- as email, chat, discussion boards, telephone or on-to-one video.
- Ensure availability and access of the shared content (materials) to all students.
- Learn to know your audience well.
- Be cognizant of less overt forms of communication that could be lost in
- videoconferencing classrooms
- Encourage dialog, establish rapport and promote interactivity:
- Speak clearly in your normal voice and enunciate clearly. Talk naturally, using
- inflection and body language.
- Try to eliminate background noise and other disturbances.
The Way forward
It is important that the education policy makers across the globe need to reconsider and
reframe the traditional model of teaching and learning. Seamless integration of classroom
learning with e-learning modes have to be ensured to build an efficient unified learning
system. Educational technology reforms in India should be revamped to enable smooth integration of technology to the Indian education system, which is the most diverse and
largest in the world with more than 15 lakh schools and 50,000 higher education institutions.
While some believe that this sudden, unplanned shift to the online mode of learning with little preparation, training support, and minimal infrastructural support, this mode of education may result in
creating poor user experience that is unconducive to sustained growth. On the contrary, some
others believe that a new hybrid model of education will emerge in future with significant
benefits, and they plan to make e-learning as a part of their ‘new normal’. As Peter Drucker
said, 'The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with