Educators aim to inspire their students; to ignite a hunger for knowledge that will last a lifetime. But that lofty goal is often scuppered by real-world issues in both online and traditional classrooms including tasks, like administrative work, that eat into precious planning and contact hours. And while the spike in online learning during the pandemic led to accelerated adoption of teaching as well as collaboration solutions, many institutions aren’t seeing the expected long-term benefits due to overlapping and non-integrated tools.
That’s why now is the perfect time to consider this new vertical. And while Wildix has been used in educational settings for years in institutions such as Roma Tre University and The Alberquerque Sign Language Academy, with our recent launch of Wizywebinar for Education, the time has never been better for our partners to explore this unique industry.
What Makes Education Different?
Compared to other industries, education has a lot of contact time with its customers — students and/or their guardians. In the case of public schools, institutions are motivated by access to funding, whereas with private schools tuition is their main source of income. However, regardless if they are privately or publicly funded, they both need students in order to secure funds to keep the organization running. And if the student experience is lacking, guardians are likely to move their children to other schools, if the option exists, reducing the school’s funds and hurting its reputation, making it harder to recruit new students.
We aren’t just talking about whether or not students enjoy their lessons but whether the time is valuable, the students are safe and well looked after and if the institution delivers on its promise to provide education to prepare students for the next step of their journey. In primary, secondary and even tertiary education, the experience goes beyond academics and can include extracurricular activities, meals and in some cases lodging. With so much time spent on campus, prospective students look at the quality of the whole school experience and not just the academic offer.
But even in situations where students don’t spend nine or more hours on-site, including business and personal coaching, online courses and tutoring, the educator is offering more than a product or a service that you purchase once and are done with, classes and courses require a significant time commitment and the need to effectively communicate with students both during and outside of lessons.
The Rise of Online and Hybrid Learning
Believe it or not, the pandemic wasn’t the first large-scale experiment for teaching online. Since the early 2000s, things like MOOCs (massive open online courses) offered by universities on platforms such as EDX or Coursera have become a normal part of the learning landscape, with coaches and other niche online courses expanding at the same time. This has allowed universities and other professionals to reach students who are isolated or just geographically further away, giving people access to knowledge that they would otherwise not have had.
The difference the pandemic made was bringing all of primary, secondary and tertiary students online overnight. And, as students and teachers were told to stay home — but keep working — in quarantine situations, suddenly educators needed to offer an online option even when the rest of the class was back in the classroom.
Challenges of Online and Hybrid Learning
Picture this: It’s the height of the pandemic and your child has been given a laptop by the school. You have an email with instructions to join an online meeting, but you’ve never done it before. You discover right before the class that you have to download a program in order for it to run. Then, once it opens, the controls are not easy for you to figure out let alone your child and the teacher spends the first 10 minutes of the lesson trying to make sure everyone’s microphones and cameras are working. Then maybe the teacher has the chance to start the lesson, but there’s likely still one student whose camera and microphone are off and appears unresponsive.
Hybrid learning brings in these same challenges, while also managing a traditional classroom. In fact, without a proper setup, the instructor essentially has to run two separate classes at the same time, or they functionally ignore the online students and just teach the lesson as normal. Additionally, running activities that put students into groups, or breakout rooms, can be quite cumbersome to set up, and while they are doing that, the students in the classroom have to wait — wasting time and putting the lesson on pause.
And of course, there’s the teacher interface. How easy is it to set up lessons? Does the webinar software seamlessly integrate with the educational landing page? If setting up a digital class is anything short of intuitive, the new technology risks alienating more senior teachers in a climate where retaining and recruiting experienced teachers is already difficult.
Importance of a Good Setup
While the success of a lesson depends on the quality of the teacher and their lesson planning, having the right tools in place makes a world of difference. When it comes to software, having a virtual classroom that works across all browsers and devices means that students have equal access to the class, and if it’s powered by WebRTC, that means there’s no time wasted downloading applications or clients and that microphones and cameras are more likely to be already set up and compatible, letting teachers spend more of the class time teaching and less time troubleshooting.
But that’s just to get the class started. With a solid learning platform, like Wizywebinar for Education, teachers also have the ability to engage with students, not just talk at them. With built-in tools like breakout rooms, whiteboard markup, shared notes, hand raising, chat, polls and a content library, teachers can create a stimulating online environment that encourages students to actively participate instead of hiding behind a “non-working” camera.
And when you need to integrate online and in-person students in the same class, having a screen large enough to show the main board and the online students goes a long way toward getting the two segments to work together as one. But more than that, online students need to be able to hear what’s happening in the class, not just the teacher. So high-quality microphones placed on a desk in the center of the room, or safely in the ceiling, capture more than simply miking the teacher. The same can be said for the camera. A static camera can help see the room at large, but having another one that uses AI to identify and focus on the speaker helps make it easier for students to identify what is happening and interact with the peers in class.
Communicating Outside the Classroom
Teaching can be quite a solitary experience, but it doesn’t have to be. One of the major benefits of the switch to online and remote working during the pandemic was that teachers suddenly had better access to their colleagues to share ideas, materials and learn from each other. Collaboration tools like chat and video conferencing can also extend to students who need extra support, meaning that a teacher doesn’t have to be tied to an office during their scheduled office hours. It can even improve parent-teacher nights, allowing busy parents to quickly call in for a video conference instead of visiting the school. And with shorter turnover time in between meetings, teachers can save time, which they can use for planning, marking or simply striking a better work/life balance.
But it even means that it saves administrators a lot of hassle coordinating between parents and teachers. By using an integrated system that includes presence, office staff can see exactly when a teacher is busy and send them chats or post-it notes that are instantaneous and less obtrusive than simply calling the classroom and interrupting the flow of the class.
And for the staff tasked with student recruitment, having a widget on the website that lets interested students contact them directly means that they are able to quickly answer questions and connect prospective students to the right person the first time, increasing the likelihood prospective students will study at the institution.
A Solution for Every Educational Setting
As you can see, offering a communication solution for education is more than providing an easy-to-use, secure web conferencing tool. It’s about empowering teachers, staff and students to connect from wherever they are, whether on the other side of the building or miles away. It’s ensuring that valuable lesson time isn’t wasted through awkward tools or unnecessary interruptions. And it’s a way to make it easier to recruit, retain and teach prospective students and staff from around the world.
With Wildix, you can put all of these tools right at your client’s fingertips. With our full suite of collaboration tools including chat, voice and video calls, as well as full telephony features and call center capabilities, we provide everything to connect students, teachers and staff, whether it’s for a small online language school or an internationally recognized university.
We offer hardware that includes everything from desk phones to a full web conferencing solution complete with studio-quality microphones, stand for up to three screens and static and AI adjusting cameras. Statuses and messages even automatically sync across all devices including via mobile apps, letting users switch easily and effortlessly between them.
Ready-to-use integrations ranging from CRM tools, calendars, email and even door phones improve office productivity and building management, while our open APIs allow for tailored solutions that incorporate a mix of educational tools in any setting.
And with security incorporated into every stage of development, there’s no need to run around setting up various VPNs or external SBCs. Everything is secure from the moment of installation. And with the possibility to install everything remotely, you can save precious time you can use to help the next customer and grow your business.
So whether you’re looking to work with institutions big or small, join Wildix and expand the horizons of your business.
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