Should educational institutions be using a video calling and meeting solution or a solution that helps get the task of educating children efficiently? Difficult circumstanced necessitated the adoption of Zoom. It nevertheless opens up a range of security and learning efficacy challenges.
I recently wrote on the safety challenges that Zoom need to address. Large organisations like Apple, Nasa, SpaceX have also told employees to avoid using this particular application. Zoom itself has prioritised working on privacy and safety enhancements over the next 90 days.
Should your organisation wait? The question is, does this or any other video calling solution serve the needs of an educational institution?
Before writing this, I have tried to understand the operationalisation of these video sessions. The implementation seems suboptimal and mostly working to force-fit a classroom experience of teacher interaction into a video calling experience. And the institutions have tried to make the most of the feature set available within this platform. It’s most certainly not enough.
With most organisations, opting for a separate link for each classroom session, it has potential for confusion in the minds of students. Plus what about the video content on the whiteboard and then the chat sessions. Some institutions are sending classroom links on WhatsApp. Not only do these create security issues but also the real problem of students missing out on class.
It is best if educational institutions consider a full-featured product that encapsulates the learning experience and not just depend on video. Many students may not have access to quality connectivity, as well.
Google and Microsoft offer solutions for educational institutions. Perhaps Microsoft Teams should have been tried out in the context of various learning workflows. I am pretty sure it would be a more optimal fit for the students, teachers and institutions. They are even offering it for free. Even that package addresses more workflows than the current approach. You can always upgrade if required.
Thinking aloud, you can configure Microsoft Teams in the following way, but obviously, this is not the only one.
- Each section of a grade is configured as a team. All the students of this section and the assigned teachers would form a part of this team.
- For each team, you can create multiple channels, i.e. one for each subject. All the courseware, discussions, quizzes and more for each subject would be available in the assigned channel.
- The calendar would include all sessions for this call. The application sends a reminder notification or emails to the student and teacher.
- You can configure multiple tabs for the whiteboards, education portal, even the presentation file to be discussed. The students and teachers will all know where to go. There is no distraction or missing out.
- The students can upload the assignment files through the channel and no emails again.
- You can see some Microsoft Teams videos here
Overall the key benefit is that teachers focus on helping students learn. Discussion, learning material and interactions will be available for students and teachers without wading through a sea of links.
I wrote this because I feel strongly about the current digital handling of learning. If you have questions on this or any other tool, please do reach out!