More than 30 of Britain’s top school leaders say they are convinced that the “blended solution” – where in-class pupils are joined by pupils using virtual learning technology – is the way forward.
Senior Leadership Team members from a number of the UK’s top private schools were recently invited to a demonstration of X20 Media’s virtual learning environment. The 90-minute demonstration, run out of a purpose-built virtual learning classroom in Knutsford, showed how all of the functionality built into Harvard Business School’s X-Classroom has been re-modeled into a ‘Pop-Up’ classroom facility which can be operational in 8-12 weeks.
All of the participants had spent the previous several weeks grappling with multiple challenges with online learning, forced onto them by the Covid-19 crisis. There was unanimity that when schools re-opened, hopefully in September, a platform that allows both in-class and “on the wall” students, joining remotely, would be the ideal. As one leader put it: “The blended solution would solve so many problems. But both in-class and online students need to feel part of the whole.”
The group saw how the X20 Media solution allows both sets of students to very much feel connected to each other and part of the complete class. Students sitting physically in the room can work in groups with the remote students by the simple use of a tablet on their desks. They can participate in polling put up by the teacher and they can share whiteboard notations. Just as every virtual student can have sent to their digital folders all notations on every whiteboard – each group would have its own – so too can the in-class students participate off their tablets hooked into the virtual system. When the moderator launched a poll to determine the group’s views on the future of virtual learning, there was unanimity amongst them that every school would need to maintain some level of technology to deliver online lessons, even after the Covid-19 crisis.
A significant majority did not subscribe to the view that virtual learning could replace the in-class experience. However, when asked about the blended solution, they overwhelmingly agreed that it was the ideal way forward.
The advantages they saw included:
- Adding virtual students, especially to A-level classes, would make those classes far more cost-effective. (Sixth Form education is the most expensive element in any private school, mostly owing to small class sizes.)
- The teaching could become more innovative with students from around the world participating in discussions. Perspectives in history could broaden; exploration in the sciences could be universally interesting; maths could become magical with brains from different continents competing with each other.
- Above all, the blended learning solution offered a new PROFITABLE INCOME STREAM from students attending classes to gain qualifications to enter prestigious UK and USA universities.
- The X20 Solution, with the possibilities of important guest speakers addressing student gatherings via the ‘Remote Presenter’ facility, opens up the school’s extracurricular learning possibilities.
- Marketing and Admissions departments could exploit the technology to attract international students without the expense of travel; the school could be showcased as exceptionally modern and in the advance guard of on-line learning.
- The costs of attracting students could be reduced as Study-Abroad agents would take lower commissions for ‘Virtual Students’ than is the norm.
Over 90% of participants asked X20 Media and ASIS Education to provide more detailed information about the solution.
The follow through process involves a site visit followed by preparation of a detailed, costed proposal document.
ASIS Education is offering School Senior Leadership Teams regular demonstrations of their technology during the summer season and visits to their virtual classrooms in Hemel Hempstead and Knutsford.