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Various models of online instruction thrived during the pandemic. It seems these new learning environments created in the crisis will continue to be used in one form or another. If this is the future, it is crucial to get it right. In this article, we will explain some online learning modes and have a closer look at three examples of best practices.
What are remote, online, hybrid, and blended learning?
Remote learning means learning from a distance when students are not physically present for the lesson. Trainers and learners use the Internet and email to communicate and send learning materials. It is not limited geographically and that makes it more accessible. While in the past there could be a slight difference between distance and online learning, nowadays they mean the same.
Online learning is conducted with the help of the Internet in a fully online environment. Students and teachers from different physical locations interact with one another via an Internet connection. For example, webinars, virtual classroom sessions, and online whiteboard collaborations are forms of online learning. Schools and universities usually organize their online training in a Learning Management System called LMS where they create courses, upload training materials, and provide teachers and students with tools for interaction.
Hybrid learning is when the teacher and some of the students are physically present in a traditional classroom while others are participating in the lesson from a distance via online audio and video connection. It can be very useful when some of the students cannot be present in the physical classroom e.g., for health or travel issues.
Three best practices that appeared during the COVID-19 crisis and will stay
Hybrid learning at Northern Academy of the Arts. They chose VEDAMO for their online sessions because of the stability of the whiteboard function. It also was a perfect solution for the Arts classes with high-resolution cameras focused on students’ pieces of artwork so that teachers could see their work and give instructions. Now they continue using the VEDAMO Virtual Classroom for their hybrid classes when they have to teach online and on-site students at the same time (synchronously). The teacher is in the brick-and-mortar classroom with some of the students but instead of using markers and a physical whiteboard he/she is projecting the VEDAMO whiteboard and uses a writing pad to write on it so that all students (online and on-site) can see it. An extra computer is also logged in with its camera facing the on-site students. In this way, all students can see and hear their peers, the teacher, and the whiteboard and can work together.
Another form of hybrid learning is provided by MathAltitude School of Mathematics in Worcester, Massachusetts. During the pandemic, they switched to completely online classes on VEDAMO. Now they offer both in-person and online classes, and also hybrid flexible ones that they call HyFlex where some of the students are in the physical classroom and others join the same class remotely. They use big monitors in each classroom that show the virtual classroom with the online students and high-resolution cameras pointing to the whiteboard so the remote students can see and hear everything that is happening in the brick-and-mortar classroom.
A one-on-one tutoring session is a form of online instruction that proved very helpful for the disadvantaged pupils whose education was affected by the school closures during the pandemic. The Tutor Trust, UK is an education charity providing private one-on-one or small group tutoring in English, Maths, and Science to children aged 9 – 16. Their tutors are volunteers with different backgrounds. They work with schools to support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to overcome barriers to their learning. They chose VEDAMO for their online tuition because it is interactive, safe, and effective. It helped them continue to deliver their service when in-person meetings were not possible.