Whether Pre-K or post-graduate, educational systems around the world have been challenged this past year to develop high-quality online learning experiences.
As a certified Avaya provider, we’ve had a front row seat to learn a few things ourselves. If you are in the market for an educational platform for students of any age, here are a few best practices to consider.
1) Look for ease of use across devices.
If you want maximum participation, your platform must be easy to use for students, parents, teachers, and administrators. The easier the platform is to use, the more likely it will be used.
The platform needs to be simple to setup for anyone who is not tech-savvy, not require a lot of extra equipment, and be usable on multiple types of devices.
Setting up virtual classrooms should be intuitive and customizing the capabilities within those classrooms needs to be both intuitive and robust. For example, younger students may not understand how email-based accounts work, so creating a log-in to your classroom using an email address may not make sense for some teachers. Other teachers may not want time-bound video meetings, so setting up flexible and secure video calls is a priority.
Short of physically tapping your neighbor on the shoulder, anything you can do in a classroom has a virtual counterpart – participating in class discussions, receiving assignments, turning in assignments, making presentations, reading, taking notes, completing worksheets, building lesson plans. All of these things are possible in a virtual class, but not all are simple to do. Be sure you have a solid understanding of all the functionalities before signing on to make sure you’ll have the best possible classroom experience available.
2) Look for versatility
From March onward last year, schools were faced with the challenge of going online quickly. Many were successful at bringing classes online, but board meetings and faculty meetings were either postponed or canceled. This year, the challenge is not simply to ride out the school year but to provide a quality educational experience, maintain a feeling of community, and facilitate operational and administrative activities online. It’s a tall order, but not an impossible one.
There are versatile, cloud-based VoIP platforms such as Avaya Spaces that are both simple to use and flexible enough to accommodate board, faculty, and extracurricular meetings and workspaces.
3) Think about security options.
If a student moves or needs to be removed from the space for disciplinary reasons, teachers need to be able to set or change passwords in real time. When students are under the age of 18, look for features that ensure only authenticated users have access to a classroom or chat session.
4) Think about options that provide routine and normalcy.
What kind of functionality would enable after school programs or clubs to continue? What about the ability to record morning announcements that can be pushed out to every class? Or allow pre-K/kinder students to share their favorite items for “show and tell”? What about having a virtual lunchroom where middle schoolers can “meetup” with their friend groups during a break? While no one would consider these types of activities a permanent, ideal situation, building in consistent opportunities for socialization is crucial for young people’s social and emotional development.
Don’t forget making space for parent-teacher conferences, or for secondary students, office hours or advisory sessions.
For some students, they may find that having the ability to send their teacher questions via 1:1 chat is a game changer. They may be too shy or intimidated in front of students in their physical classroom to ask questions, but from the security of their own home, they are more empowered to get clarification when they do not understand subject matter. Other students may appreciate having the freedom to stand up and move around while they’re problem solving – their learning style may not be as welcome in traditional scenarios, but it’s acceptable here.
At Dice, we’ve helped education institutions of all kinds find the best cloud-based VoIP platform for their organization.