As universities prepare for the start of the spring 2022 semester on top of the omicron variant spike, virtual instruction and hybrid learning will continue to be critical. This semester, educators will have to continue to adapt and innovatively design their courses around the university’s latest guidelines.
To help build upon your current strategy, we have compiled 10 technology must-haves for universities leveraging hybrid learning, to encourage your students to academically and socially thrive, this new year.
1. Prioritize student privacy – maintain a private, authenticated & secure digital classroom
Adopting an advanced classroom management system will ensure your classroom environment retains its privacy and security. Only enrolled students with the authorized credentials will be able to sign in to your digital classroom. Options include single sign-on (SSO) with a university domain email address or a specific assigned sign-up code. With this format, you and your students can feel comfortable in your in-person and online class discussions.
2. Encourage a sense of belonging with peer-to-peer omni-channel communication
A dynamic classroom is rooted in the conversations among classmates. Complement in-person interactions by offering multiple opportunities for students to convene with their peers. Introduce chat channels, group messages, or direct messages where students can start connecting and develop class camaraderie no matter where they are.
3. Drive remote student participation with personalized content & secure chat features
Empower students to ask questions and participate in activities virtually. Utilize live chat features to bolster student involvement online and create content to spark engagement. With polls, you can survey students as an easy way to get started. Develop checklists with to-do items that students can check off as they complete assignments. You can even schedule these ahead of time to plan your activities throughout the semester.
4. Offer support to students with virtual office hours, bonus points for anonymous capabilities
Gone are the days when you had to be in your office for students to schedule and meet with you about support for upcoming assignments, questions about their grades, and general feedback and advisory. Conduct office hours remotely on a classroom management system instead of email, which can get lost in your inbox, use chat channels to answer questions in real-time. Nowadays, you can also offer incognito mode, where students can ask questions they feel more comfortable asking anonymously.
5. Make your LMS more student-friendly by connecting it to a community building and event management system
Learning management systems are essential to your university courses. However, once these dates are plugged in and live, they can be difficult for students to access. Not to mention, learning management systems tend to be limited when it comes to community building features your classroom needs to foster a sense of camaraderie and connection. Adopt software that can pull out the due dates for students in real-time and is curated to support a community-building online environment. From virtual office hours in the age of Covid and support peer-to-peer crowdsourced learning to help save professors and TA’s valuable time and energy.
6. Make classes accessible with virtual live streams and lecture recordings
One way to help ensure your students remain up-to-date on class sessions is through virtual classes–integrate with some of your favorite go-to video meeting apps such as Zoom or Skype. Linking your virtual class links within your class calendar is a way to help students stay on track of class dates. If possible, you can record your lectures for students to refer to later when studying for exams or writing an essay around a previous class discussion.
7. Ensure accurate attendance tracking with an in-person, or online attendance tracker
Do you have a large class that fills an auditorium? Is attendance a part of your grading system? In a hybrid setting, attendance tracking capabilities for online and in-person are pivotal. Enable students to check in on their classroom management app to help manage their attendance with ease in each class.
8. Help students stay organized by giving them 24/7 access to an online resource guide
Students are juggling several classes, and it can become overwhelming trying to multitask. Provide your students with a central hub of class resources in a dynamic guide. Equip it with books, links, articles, videos, and other materials that students can access throughout the course and reference when they need it most.
9. Improve classroom engagement with administrative data and insights
Use platform data to see what components of your classroom management system your students are engaging with most to help shape future course assignments and activities. Likes and comments can help determine what types of posts and topics resonate with your students and you can update future plans accordingly.
10. Send students custom notifications & announcement reminders
On top of in-person announcements at the end of class, you can make announcements through your class management system. Choose to send an email with a click of a button, pin it to the main course page, or send push notifications via the app or the Web version. Schedule the optimal time for your announcement to go out and ensure students get that friendly reminder.