Skip to main content

The rise of virtual classrooms #edtech

Over the last year we have seen a strong and steady growth in use of virtual classrooms even in a period (the first half of 2021) where COVID cases were low in Australia and universities were encouraging staff and students back onto campus for learning and teaching. Numbers of both small and large classes have increased in our virtual classroom software, as have recordings with a Terabyte of content being added in the first half of this year. 

For the last 10 years, as long as efficient lecture recording and convenient access has been around, we have seen a decline in lecture attendance, usually after the first 1-3 weeks, as students catch up on lectures via the recording when it suits them. This has been a point of great concern and frustration for teachers who sometimes are teaching to a largely empty room.

Why, even in a COVID normal state with low cases and a push for on campus delivery did the number of virtual classes grow in number and size? 

There are some hypothetical reasons staff might have for continuing to run things virtually, such as.
  • "Its easier to create an online space than book an appropriately sized and configured physical one."
  • "Actually online virtual classrooms are working better than expected and I've learned how to manage my classes in this space and become very effective at online teaching!"
  • "While student attendance in physical lectures was low, online attendance is better."
  • "The virtual space actually makes teaching large classes easier, virtual spaces have breakout rooms and I like joining each group individually, I am more connected to my students than ever."
The reality is this is we have not researched peoples motivations or analysed the available data. The insights into staff and students' motivations are extremely important to designing educational experiences of the future. After years of the old model (f2f lecture/tutorial/workshop/lab) struggling with technology disruption (particularly lectures), are we witnessing a transition point in higher education to new models based on more effective technology integration? Or is something else going on entirely? What are your thoughts?


Popular posts from this blog

What does 2021 hold for student #learningexperience at my university

"Handwriting Text E-Learning Loading. Concept meaning Forecasting the future event"   by  is licensed under  CC BY 2.0 This year we have a unique opportunity to capitalise on what was 2020 and all the impacts it had on learning and teaching.  Staff ICT literacy levels and confidence increased because they had to use digital tools for teaching, there was no choice. This situation was complicated, academics of all levels of ICT literacy had to adapt. Some staff had zero experience with digital tools and were using online tools for the first time, while others are always pushing boundaries and looking for alternative tools available from central support areas. As with staff, some students have very low ICT literacy, while others blaze ahead of the curve, using the tools like pros and needing much instruction. They just work it out. Shifting this cohort of students and staff to fully online was a massive undertaking and a huge shock for everyone.  Going into 2020

University of Canberra Library adds #VR Headsets to the catalogue - on the road to immersive learning resources in #Education

In September 2018 the UC Library added VR headsets to the catalogue, available in the short loan section. Students can loan the headsets for up to 3 hours. Support for using the headsets will be limited to basic guidance, and beyond this it will be up to students to have their apps and content ready, just needing the headset to get going. Supporting this technology is difficult given the number of different phones, OS versions and apps out there giving rise to any app recommendations working on one phone and not another. For this reason support will be limited, however as our in-house knowledge grows more advice will be able to be given. A small number of headsets to start with represents a low risk investment that also allows staff to up skill in VR technology. Demo sessions and training given to Library staff has been fun and a valuable sharing activity as everyone is at different stages of familiarity. Now that a number of staff in the library have been up skilled we can begin t

Make your #onlinelearning experience more personal with a #lightboard

In August 2019 the DVCA at UC wanted to invest in some light boards as he had seen the educational benefits at the previous university he worked for. I was tasked with putting in a comprehensive bid to an annual equipment fund and, if successful, follow the process through to implementation working with AV Services, and Library Services. As of March 2020 the Library houses UC's first ever Lighboard, and academic staff are putting it to good use. The Lightboard is a glass panel filled with light which stands between the teacher and the audience/camera. The teacher faces the camera (viewers) and writes on the glass using liquid chalk (for best results), the results glow on the glass, and a camera is used to record the session. The camera we use flips the image horizontally so the writing appears in the correct orientation without having to flip it in a post production process. The videos capture the face and hand movements/gestures of the teacher, as well as the hand written conten