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#edtech to support #polysynchronous learning

Delivering polysynchronous learning experiences is becoming more achievable with ever improving and more capable ICT options. Current approaches are somewhat limited as a result of using ICT that isn't quite up to the task of helping remote learners feel engaged. For example in the Speech Pathology Masters Program here, students have reported not feeling part of the learning experience, noting inequality of access. Traditional 2D camera technologies have been used, resulting in online students not being able to see all of that the teacher and other students are doing, with teaching staff having to switch between camera views that asynchronously capture different aspects of the session. Faculty have tried wide angle cameras, multiple cameras, portable and fixed cameras, as due to the need to switch between them. Rather than solving the problem of disengagement the current solutions only results in high barrier to entry for teachers leads to a poor experience for students.

Technologies that can help overcome these current limitations now exist and are listed below along with the problems they help to solve.

360 degree video and audio capture.
Products such as the Meeting Owl capture in 360 audio and video and transform the way remote participants can engage, giving them freedom to see and hear any part of the space they wish at any time rather than seeing only part of a room, a limitation of 2D camera technology.

Virtual classroom with in room projection.
For access to flow in both directions the participants in the teaching space need to have visibility of the online participants. Projecting the online participants from the Virtual Room software can provide this solution. To compliment this physical spaces would require, within given budget and technology limits, display capability that is wide enough to support showing the web cam feeds of multiple online participants. 

Portable USB Document cameras
USB Doc Cams allow the teachers to easily switch between solutions like the meeting owl to a medium where they can show artefacts they can mark up, working out, etc. This technology supports the teacher in providing the cognitive apprenticeship students need to be able to think like a professional in their chosen discipline. These devices are extremely portable, can be loaned out from the Library, and inexpensive (~$200).

Lightboards for chunked lecture recording
Many academic staff wish to retain the benefits of making thinking visible using "chalk and talk" approaches. Unfortunately when recording these sessions for online learners the teacher is standing in front of the board, obscuring the view and having the back turned worsens the sense of isolation, lack of connection. We need to do everything we can to make sure learning includes personal connection as much as possible for online students. The Lightboard solution provides a see through glass board that allows the teacher to write on one side and the camera to record the other. The camera does the work of flipping the image so it isn't presented backwards. UC is currently looking to invest in two recording rooms with lightboards. Bringing one or two students into the room during a session allows the teacher to have an audience and receive questions about content and concepts that benefit the whole cohort.

For further information on polysynchronous learning please see this paper from Barney Delgarno


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