Blended learning, distance learning, remote learning... Is there a difference?
Hi there! My name is Koen Timmers (). I'm a Belgian educator who has been teaching computer science for 15 years. My school started up a blended learning project more than 7 years a go. Blended learning implies that my students are attending half of the lessons at home (distance learning) and half at school (face to face learning).
We decided to use a web conferencing tool to facilitate synchronous remote teaching. Besides setting up meetings, these tools are absolutely fit to be used to set up online, live classes. Skype for Business (Lync) allows the following features:
Seeing and hearing each other by using webcam and microphone
Screen sharing - makes your screen kind of an interactive blackboard
A list of all participants: which students are attending your class
A chat function: an extension of your voice
Recording sessions: the answer to students who are ill and want to catch up
Are you considering to try out or even implement remote learning in your school or classroom? Give me a shout: I'd be happy to be of any kind of assistance.
More collaboration between students, who are well motivated
All students are more involved and shy students have a larger sense of belonging
No more traffic jam. Remote lessons are time efficient and eco friendly
Learning in a familiar environment
Recording sessions allow ill and "weaker" to catch up or rehearse
No internet = no remote learning
What about students who don't have internet or a computer?
Possible solution: Consider to lend out devices to your students or provide a computer class for students who aren't able to attend at home.
Distractions at home - who says students are attending your class at all?
Possible solution: ask you students to switch on their webcam at unregular times or set up polls randomly which they have to answer within 2 minutes.
Check whether your government allows distance learning - students being outside of the classroom.
A lack of bandwith might cause lag.
Possible solution: don't use webcams.
Considering to give it a try?
Train the educators into using Skype for Business (Lync). Prepare this session as they might not be very motivated.
Introduce the tool to your students in the classroom. Allow them to bring their computer and set up a short online session to check everybody hears you.
Examine the satisfaction of you students once a week/month by setting up anonymous polls.
Quick guides and articles
Want to give it a try? During the past year I wrote several articles and quick guides.
Need to convince your colleagues or school board? There has been done lot's of academical research by several universities. This is wat academics are saying about remote learning via web conferencing tools
Anderson and Elloumi (2004) claim that "Educational institutions are moving toward the use of the Internet for delivery, both at campus and at a distance". Anderson, Terry and Fathi, Elloumi, 2004. Theory and Practice of Online Learning (Ebook).
Thissen et al. (2007) advocate "It’s possible to use web conferencing for teaching, because the built functions closely approach face-to-face teaching. They also believe that web conferencing technologies provide rich enough interaction to maintain a sense of community amongst the team members". THISSEN, M. Rita, et al. Communication tools for distributed software development teams. In: Proceedings of the 2007 ACM SIGMIS CPR conference on Computer personnel research: The global information technology workforce. ACM, 2007. p. 28-35.
Hambley et al. (2007) discuss that "Although face-to-face communication has been shown to be the richest form of interaction within a team, video conferencing capabilities mimic that ability closely". HAMBLEY, Laura A.; O’NEILL, Thomas A.; KLINE, Theresa JB. Virtual team leadership: The effects of leadership style and communication medium on team interaction styles and outcomes. Organizational behavior and human decision processes, 2007, 103.1: 1-20.
Everett (2007) advocates "Web conferencing is seen as a tool that encourages an interactive and collaborative environment while creating a sense of community". EVERETT, Donna R. Web Conferencing as a Corporate Communication Tool. In: Proceedings of the 2007 Association for Business Communication Annual Convention. 2007. p. 1-10.