Thanks to COVID-19, virtual learning has become the norm in most classrooms across the United States as well as around the world. Furthermore, experts agree that even after the COVID-19 pandemic becomes a thing of the past and schools open up, virtual technologies will likely remain a core element of the curriculum.
So, which virtual classroom technologies are hip and actually useful to students, teachers, and staff? Certainly, not all of them are built alike, yet there are so many available that it can be difficult to choose.
We feel it’s best to speak to the experts about the current trends.
Which Virtual Classroom Technologies Will Be Most Useful in 2021?
#1 – Google Classrooms
In 2021, Fransen recommends Google Classrooms for most schools as it is “the dominate player in the market” for virtual classroom technology. He goes on to say that “[Google Classrooms] will give both teachers and students access to sharing documents, collaborating, going through lesson plans, [and] completing assignments.”
Google Classrooms allows teachers to post lesson material and announcements to their students, including daily assignments and semester-long projects. Teachers can also grade assignments, and students can speak to each other and ask their teachers questions. Perhaps the best thing about it, says Fransen, is that students can “never lose [their] homework.”
#2 – Blackboard Learn
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools, including universities and community colleges, used Blackboard or Blackboard Learn. This software has been especially popular for online class learning (pre-COVID-19), enabling students to post homework, engage in discussion groups, ask questions, and take exams and tests.
#3 – Zoom
Zoom — now a well-known program in most classrooms — came on the scene out of relative obscurity at the beginning of the pandemic.
Zoom is a video conferencing app that does much more than simply allow for online classes and individual tutoring sessions to take place. With Zoom, you can chat, save, or pre-record lectures and video calls.
Zoom is likely best known for its individual features within video calls. Within a given virtual call or classroom event, you can change your background to virtually anything you want. Multiple call features allow you to mute yourself or others, turn on and off your camera, and do much more.
Tips for Integrating Technology Within Classrooms and Schools
Overcome the biggest hurdles of online learning as soon as possible.
Whether teachers and students are happy with it or not, it’s best to accept that virtual learning is here to stay. This means that the biggest elements of online learning should be tackled right away. This is often getting courses online in the first place.
Says Fransen: “The biggest issue that teachers need to overcome is moving their course content online. This is also hampered that teachers were never taught how to use online systems. They need to first learn, and then integrate the technology into their own teaching style.”
Look for technologies that can work with the whole school and from grade to grade.
Fransen also recommends finding technologies that can be integrated within the entire school system — not just within one or two classrooms. Even before COVID-19 arose, this tended to be the norm within school districts that would employ universal email systems, file storage and homework submittal systems, and more.
Says Fransen: “A good concept is that the technology approach should come down from the entire school, instead of each individual teacher. This will allow a consistent experience for all students as the journey from grade to grade.”
If you need assistance setting-up your school or classroom’s online learning, speak with a qualified MSP today. Installation, setup, and initial education for the software should be provided to you by IT professionals. This will give you every opportunity to use each program to its full extent and embrace the new norm of virtual learning.