With the shift in how technology has evolved the way in which we educate and learn, it's no surprise that some people are already talking about the metaverse as the basis of the next classroom. However, while virtual and augmented reality experiences sound appealing, most educators aren't ready to embrace them.
Many believe that it distracts from what really matters: engaging students to close the pandemic learning gap. However, higher education leaders must find the right balance, and more conventional technologies can help bridge that gap. When used properly, they create immersive classroom experiences desired by both educators and students.
A Rough Start for the Hybrid Classroom
Classrooms had to adapt quickly when the pandemic hit. The University of Arkansas conducted a survey of 1,045 teachers and found that nearly 30% were fully remote for most of 2020, 49% taught in a hybrid model and only 21.2% taught fully in person.
Many fully remote and hybrid educators had to use technologies that were new to them, including Zoom and Microsoft Teams. In addition to grappling with understanding the technology, they had to navigate shifts in teaching patterns. Seven in ten teachers switched instructional models at least once during the school year, and the average teacher switched models twice.
Altogether, these conditions contributed to educator burnout, which, in turn, took its toll on learning. A McKinsey data assessment uncovered significant learning loss stemming from the onset of the pandemic, with students in the data sample learning only 67% of the math and 87% of the reading they should have learned within that period under normal conditions.
How Can Schools Move Forward?
During the pandemic, teachers struggling to get webcams working and dealing with muffled audio quickly realized that Zoom calls alone could not create an immersive classroom experience. They needed a more cohesive, integrated platform.
This need is further underscored by the fact that hybrid and 'flex' classrooms aren't going away. AT&T's 2021 Future of School survey found that 94% of teachers were open to the idea of hybrid learning, given the availability of the proper resources, system and support, while 84% of parents supported virtual tutoring.
At the forefront of collaborating with education experts and innovating AV solutions, Panasonic is helping educators solve these practical problems to usher in a longer-term shift in education. If schools want to construct successful hybrid classroom environments, they must take the second step to an immersive classroom. This means investing in technology that supports friction-free, in-person and remote learning.
Hybrid teaching should have an audio-visual layer seamless enough to become practically invisible by blending into the background. Here's how to build this classroom of the future:
Attain Quality Audio and Video
Many students are visual learners, which is why visual technology solutions are key for both remote and in-person learning environments. For example:
- Point, tilt and zoom (PTZ) cameras can support teachers as they focus on different things in the classroom. Teachers can easily move and zoom PTZ units using their computers. These cameras offer resolutions up to ultra-high definition 4K for crisp images. They also provide up to 20 times zoom for focusing on documents across a room and feature wide-angle views for taking in the whole class.
- Vibrant displays — whether projector or flat screen — are also important for student understanding. They create immersive experiences that draw viewers into the topic. Certain Panasonic projectors are built with teaching environments in mind, such as the PT-FRQ60 Native 4K laser projector. It offers sharp, crisp images that pop on the projection display, features a quiet mode for displaying images without distracting fan noise and contains an easily adjustable lens that enables busy teachers to position the image quickly.
In hybrid educational settings, sound quality is just as important as visual quality; many early attempts at immersive hybrid classrooms stumbled due to poor audio. Forward-thinking school districts should look to professional audio solutions for clear sound that won't leave remote students trying to guess what their instructor said. Panasonic offers integrated, interference-free lavalier and handheld audio solutions optimized to pick up the teacher's speech rather than background classroom noise.
Look for Reliability and Mobility
One of the most essential features of audio/visual technology is reliability. The PTFRZ60, for example, supports at least 20,000 hours of maintenance-free projection.
Another, depending on the needs of the classroom, is mobility. The PT-VMZ71 utilizes LCD technology that enables high-end functionality to be squeezed into a small, light chassis. This design makes it easy to wheel around and set up temporarily in classroom environments.
Projectors are not the only option for in-class displays. Some classrooms prefer a permanent flat screen. For these situations, the screen must be able to withstand regular, long-term use. Panasonic professional displays can operate for the whole working day and beyond, seven days a week.
Bring It All Together in an Affordable Package
Robust audio and video technologies create a foundational platform for quality education experiences. Panasonic has integrated them into single product solutions that enable educators to teach remote students as though they are there in the room.
One example is the lecture capture solution, which includes automatic tracking hardware and software to follow teachers around the room as they walk. It even has facial recognition capabilities, which can track multiple lecturers across different sessions in the same room.
These systems don't just integrate audio and video; they create an end-to-end lecturing and learning experience. They record the classes professionally in high fidelity and then feed the recordings into online learning management systems so students can access high-quality lecture material on demand.
For schools on a budget, pricing for these technology solutions must be affordable. Panasonic's Top of the Class educational pricing puts solutions like these within reach for many learning institutions. Aside from lower prices for educators, it also offers an extended five-year warranty on projectors.
Use Technology to Support the Curriculum
Integrating technology invisibly into the classroom is just the beginning when creating a long-term immersive education experience. By blending and embedding technology into the curriculum, educators can enhance learning outcomes.
Panasonic's Project Moonshot is a professional development program that helps educators create technology-powered teaching strategies. Its initial success among K-12 educators led to a broadening of its scope, with more school districts being targeted and plans to scale it for higher education environments.
Achieving the Classroom of the Future
The future of the classroom is digital, but this future necessitates integrated technology platforms with easy-to-use, high-quality audio-visual features that support rather than distract teachers. With the right technologies in place, teachers can build educational programs that function seamlessly in and out of the classroom. As a result, they can finally provide an immersive learning experience that will delight parents and students alike.