How to create engaging blended learning programs for the new world of work

Although learning has moved online and to various hybrid models for many years, the coronavirus pandemic has pushed the pedal to the ground, accelerating movement to highway speed. This is great news for both the learner and your organization. When you approach learning as a fully blended experience with the virtual component at the center, you can create a program that has greater impact and lasts long after the session ends. And it’s flexible, allowing you to weave the right pieces to achieve your learning goal, building on these approaches:

  • Independent learning
  • Synchronous learning (in person or online)
  • Social learning (in pairs and / or cohorts)

Blended learning programs are the most effective method. By combining asynchronous video learning with synchronous webinars and / or in-person workshops, as well as other engaging elements, you create opportunities to tailor and personalize messages. This allows learners to better understand and apply what they have learned and ultimately turn those actions into results. Blended learning offers unique benefits that are absent when an employee simply logs in for a few hours of recorded one-on-one training or attends a single group webinar. Blended learning is the best learning and will become the dominant professional development style for most companies in the new world of work because it:

  • Is less expensive than all in-person programs, where travel costs are approximately 40% of the cost. According to the Panopto video platform, IBM shifted 50% of its in-person training to e-learning and saved $ 579 million over 2 years. The concern is not only to reduce costs; it’s about improving the return on investment. These costly events in themselves are much less effective in turning learning into action and action into outcomes for the learner and the organization.
  • Takes place over time. By extending the training over a longer period of time, you allow repetition, which is essential for learning. Thanks to the work carried out by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus on the forgetting curve, we understand the importance of repetition. Just seven days after a training session, employees will have forgotten 65% of the material covered. According to ShifteLearning, only 12% of employees apply the skills learned during training to their jobs.
  • Supports different types of learners. This makes it more efficient for your entire organization. Auditory, visual and kinesthetic learners all benefit from a blended approach.
  • Allows you to establish new habits and apply skills to work. New habits are learned over time through practice. In fact, it takes about 66 days fully establish new habits. Learning new information during a one or two day event will not lead to new habits because there is not enough time for the app.
  • Is more flexible than synchronous learning alone, giving the learner more control over when to integrate learning into the rest of their schedule. In the new world of work, talent will have more decision-making power over all aspects of the job.
  • Allows you to deliver the right content in the right format. Not all content is best delivered in person or on demand or on video or through an app. By creating mixed programs, formats, and platforms, you can deliver each element in a powerful way.

Since the subject I train on is personal branding, most of my experience with clients has been creating and delivering soft skills programs. An ideal blended learning program for soft skills includes the following:

  • Assess. This helps the learner to establish a basic awareness of his knowledge and skills. It is useful to start with a synchronous Familiarization / Getting Started session, which sets the scene.
  • To throw. Instead of a deluge, I prefer rolling thunder campaigns, which are dripping with content and information, promoting intrigue. Reminder messages help participants prepare, especially if they include easy and fun preparatory work.
  • Socialize. It is useful to create pairs of responsibilities and establish cohorts. A study by ATD found that people have only a 25% chance of achieving a goal when they commit to it. This number increases to 95% when they have a specific responsibility appointment with someone else.
  • To learn. Video-on-demand learning gives participants the flexibility and control they need to fit learning into their busy schedules. Including quizzes, a fillable PDF “playbook”, games, etc. can make learning more fun and impactful.
  • Play (Interact). Live sessions bring learners together. By including workshops, surveys, word clouds, Q&A, etc., participants deepen their learning and connect with their colleagues.
  • Plan. Action planning ensures that learners are committed to making learning happen. These goals are best achieved when accountability partners engage with each other and pursue this step together.
  • To reinforce. Reminder texts, emails, and other nudges help keep engagements high on the list.
  • Assess. All learning programs should be measured against the individual’s goals. This helps produce more relevant programs and results over time.

That said, digital learning isn’t all about the sun and the rainbow. There are challenges in delivering learning on the same device that hosts email and other work for your employees. The temptation to multi-tasking is important. To ensure engagement in the virtual elements of the programs, there are 12 guaranteed techniques to make the program sticky and effective. Here are the four most important:

1. The surprising start. Learners should know that this is going to be different from anything they have experienced before. Employees spending most of their days on Zoom, delivering the learning that seems like these monotonous meetings will be greeted with a wink.

2. The chasm of curiosity. It is the gorilla glue of learning. It’s the gap between what participants know and what they want to know, keeping participants glued from segment to segment. This is the technique that Netflix uses to keep us going Bridgerton. Mixing up the way you deliver the plot throughout the program keeps it tacky.

3. The psychological power of 3. Marketers know that people remember things that come in threes. And the most powerful application of this technique is the Aristotle Triptych: Say what you are going to say, say it and say what you said. When you use this technique that is thousands of years old, you add the important element of repetition.

4. The Disney World effect. Learning science tells us that people learn more when they are having fun. As long as you get all of the key learnings in the program you are building, there is no limit to the amount of fun you can inject into your program. Multiple and varied opportunities will allow you to meet your people’s varying definitions of fun, just as Disney knows some customers prefer Space Mountain while others love Expedition Everest.

Blended learning will become the most common way to develop skills and adopt behaviors. If done right, that’s great news for your business and your learners.

Guillaume Arruda is keynote speaker, author, co-founder of CareerBlast.TV and creator of the LinkedIn profile type indicator (LPTI) which measures the liking and credibility of your LinkedIn profile.


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Lewis & Clark Pledges $ 12.5 Million in Main Complex Project

GODFREY – Lewis and Clark Community College board trustees have committed $ 12.5 million to support a major renovation of the main Godfrey campus complex.

In August, the LCCC closed two floors of the Baldwin and Caldwell rooms in the main complex due to health and safety concerns. It was found that HVAC issues contributed to mold growth.

In 2019, Illinois allocated $ 37.5 million for the LCCC main complex renovation project. So far, the college has not received any of these funds.

LCCC board chairman David Heyen backed the board’s authorization on Monday evening.


“That doesn’t mean we have to find $ 12.5 million tonight,” he said. “It means that we are open to providing this money.

“I am encouraged by this opportunity and believe that a renovation of this space might even help Lewis and Clark to attract more students in the future,” he said.

Clearance was pressed 6-1.

“The $ 12.5 million represents a 25% contribution to support a long overdue and significant renovation that ensures the operational vitality of our campus,” said LCCC President Ken Trzaska. “The college administration is encouraged by the fact that the actions taken by our board of directors on Monday evening demonstrate the college’s commitment to this important project for our campus and our community and to this funding that is bearing fruit. “

In an email sent to staff and students in August, Trzaska said mold was discovered in parts of Baldwin and Caldwell Halls when the campus reopened after nearly 18 months of virtual and hybrid learning. He said the problems were primarily a result of the building’s aging process, as well as its limited use throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Obsolete HVAC systems, humidity and humidity in some spaces have led to the presence of mold found during air quality testing. Classrooms with mold detected during air quality tests were closed on August 27 as classes were moved to other areas of the campus.

LCCC officials said this week that the Baldwin and Caldwell Halls closures had moved 46 faculty, 26 offices and 136 classroom sections – a total of 153 classroom moves to other locations on campus and 33 movements from face-to-face lessons towards virtual lessons. Student services was among the offices affected.

The affected spaces will remain closed indefinitely, Trzaska said.

“We hope to avoid additional operational setbacks that could very well negatively impact enrollment as well as our collective ability to carry out our mission and serve our students and community at optimal levels,” he said.

According to Trzaska, “if and when” state funding is released, the LCCC will begin conceptual studies for the renovation. The team would include community members, campus staff, and students.

“We have a great opportunity to consider our budget and resources, but also to think about the future of the main complex and its alignment with the mission, values ​​and future growth of the college,” he said. -he declares.

At Monday’s meeting, LCCC Teachers Association President Debbie Witsken, Broadcasting Coordinator Mike Lemons and Music Teacher Peter Hussey urged the board to support the game and renovate the main complex, which dates back to the 1800s.

“We need you,” Witsken told the board. “And this is a great opportunity for all of us to work together to do something amazing for our campus. “


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Tilt 365 appoints Erika Bill-Peter as Head of Learning

Company Expands List of Global Customers in Technology, Science and Healthcare

RALEIGH, NC, September 28, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – Tilt 365 (https://www.tilt365.com/), a strength assessment and team development disruptor with educational tools for its network of certified coaches, announced today Erika Bill-Peter was appointed Chief Learning Officer (CLO) to lead the expansion of the company’s coaching and organizational development (OD) tools and services. In a strong position to enable organizations to create an agile culture in today’s hybrid work environment, Tilt 365 increased revenue by 20% last year, at the height of the pandemic and experienced a 46% year-to-date revenue increase (YTD) in 2021. Tilt ratings have been used by over 1,000 organizations and the company has recently added new clients including Atlassian, DoorDash, HelloFresh UK and Google.

With over 20 years of experience, Erika Bill-Peter is an International Coach Federation (ICF) certified coach who has served as an OD consultant for external companies as well as internally at Bose Corporation. As a CLO at Tilt 365, she will spearhead the simplification and automation of Tilt 365 tools and services while maintaining the wealth of experiences and takeaways. In addition, she will lead the evolution of revolutionary development offerings that will build on the long-term research of the Tilt model, such as the laser coaching certification that she launched upon joining. His wide range of expertise will help Tilt 365 to develop its ongoing relationships with enterprises to add value to enterprises with virtual and blended learning products and change management consulting to ensure a smooth, automated and efficient implementation. fast.

Erika Bill-Peter said: “I have always been passionate about helping people grow and develop to be the best of themselves. Tilt 365 is an agile company poised to reshape the future of how global organizations perceive employee personality and team dynamics. I am excited to be a part of the leadership team and help companies around the world integrate the Tilt model, including its powerful evaluations as well as OD services, into their corporate culture.

Tilt 365 offers a suite of assessment tools and workshops that help individuals develop beyond a personality type. With specific developmental goals and conscious effort, people are able to change their personalities and develop new habits to build on their less developed ones. strengths of character. Tilt 365 solutions are designed to enable this intentional change. It is the only assessment company that positions character development as the solution to a healthy culture and effective leadership.

Dysfunctional organizational culture is the result of personality conflicts, ego sensitivities, unresolved conflicts, and counterproductive or dysfunctional team dynamics. Other personality and skill 360 assessments don’t address the root cause of an unhealthy corporate culture – personality extremes that result from fear of the ego and trigger counterproductive interactions. that spread fear in others. Tilt 365’s strengths assessments Help users understand “why” they are being triggered so that they can take responsibility for practicing balancing forces that temper inner fear. Tilt’s assessments are different because they provide actionable self-knowledge that helps people learn to interact with greater personal responsibility.

In Outstanding: How Company Character Catalyzes Loyalty, Agility, and Hypergrowth, Frank Calderoni, CEO of Anaplan, writes: “All Anaplan employees, current and new, take the Tilt 365 certification training. We know where we come from in terms of the different character traits in Tilt. understand what motivates us and what creates challenges. It allows us to better understand each other and find ways to work better together and ultimately speeds up win-win relationships.

Pam Boney, CEO and Founder of Tilt 365, said: “As organizational teams change faster than ever before, companies around the world are doubling down on their need for an agile and innovative corporate culture. We are able to continuously provide the resources and services needed to positively change corporate culture and improve team performance despite the challenges many companies have faced as a result of the pandemic. Erika is a great addition to our leadership team who will evolve and advance our character science educational solutions.

To learn more about Tilt 365, please visit https://www.tilt365.com/.

About Tilt 365
Tilt 365 is a disruptor in the industry of personality assessment, organizational development, and certified coaching academies.

Building on 20 years of character science research, the company offers a series of strengths-based personality assessments to help people move past one personality type. Tilt 365 provides leadership and organizational development services to help high-growth clients reduce divisions, identify commonalities, increase team agility, and improve performance with a corporate culture that provides security psychological. It offers several educational programs with in-person, virtual and co-ed role models to advance its network of certified coaches and in-house human resources experts.

Tilt 365 has been recognized for four consecutive years by the Training Industry Review and Assessment List. For more information visit https://www.tilt365.com/.

Media contact
Evergreen & Oak on behalf of Tilt 365
[email protected]


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Hite set to end his tenure as head of the Philadelphia school district: sources

Superintendent William Hite is expected to announce this week that he will not be asking to renew his contract as head of Philadelphia Public Schools, according to well-placed sources with knowledge of the situation.

Hite, 60, will resign at the end of the school year, the sources said, after a difficult period in managing education during the pandemic. Reached by phone Monday evening, Hite confirmed that an announcement will be made at the end of this week regarding the renewal of his contract.

Hite, a former teacher and principal, led the district through a period of severe austerity and is credited with bringing some stability to a chronically underfunded district tasked with educating mainly low-income children with high needs.

Under his leadership, the district improved its financial situation enough to return to local control after nearly two decades under the leadership of the state-dominated School Reform Commission. The state took over the district in 2001 citing financial and academic difficulties.

But this month, a severe shortage of bus drivers, food workers, class helpers and other essential workers sparked a chaotic situation as schools struggled to reopen for in-person learning. . Hite said he viewed his ninth year as head of the school district as the toughest. In March 2020, he was forced to close schools for 120,000 students in the district due to COVID-19.

Hite’s administration managed to strike a contractual deal before the August 31 deadline with the Philadelphia Teachers’ Federation despite the union’s continued disagreement over school conditions, the first time in 30 years that an agreement has been reached. before the expiration of the previous contract.

During his time here, the city also saw a marked increase in charter schools, which now educate a third of the district’s students. In 2012 and 2013, the district closed 24 of its schools and merged or relocated five others, which had a heartbreaking impact on many communities and sparked public outrage.

Test scores and graduation rates rose slightly during Hite’s tenure, and the district embarked on an anti-racist initiative to address internal inequalities, including an under-representation of black and Hispanic students in selective schools. of the district. The Board of Education adopted a ‘goals and safeguards’ approach to leadership that aimed to focus on academic success and find ways to send more resources to the poorest and lowest performing schools. .

Hite is reportedly the latest in a string of major city school district leaders to resign, retire or otherwise resign in recent months, with some citing fatigue as a reason to learn their positions. Janice Jackson, Chicago Schools CEO left his role in May, following similar moves by the leaders of Los Angeles, New York City, and Broward County, Florida.

“This year has been difficult. It was difficult for everyone, ”Hite said in an interview with Chalkbeat in March. “We are navigating something that we have never experienced before. “

In the first challenge of the pandemic, the district had to move from teaching students in buildings to teaching them while they were at home, ensuring that all of its students had the hardware, software and tools available. broadband access necessary for virtual learning, such as while continuing to provide meals.

An even bigger barrier has been the return of distance learning to in-person learning. After numerous attempts to reopen the school amid the pandemic, the district opened its doors to some early childhood students in March. Students were brought back in phases as the district pushed to reopen school buildings last spring for a “blended” learning experience.

But even before the pandemic, the neighborhood was plagued by concerns about the safety of its aging buildings, especially around ventilation. And while the original plan was to open schools last September, as have most of the city’s private and parish schools, teachers protested in the freezing cold and threatened to strike over health concerns. ventilation. A third-party Chicago mediator arbitrated the dispute, and although the issue has been resolved, complaints persist about the safety of the building – not just the ventilation, but loose asbestos, the presence of mold and the general disrepair.

Hite became superintendent in September 2012 at a time of historic turmoil. Prior to his arrival, the district was run by a “chief recovery officer” who planned to close 64 schools and divide the rest into “success networks” led by teams of educators or nonprofit institutions. .

Prospects for the district remained bleak despite a state takeover in 2001 to deal with its financial and academic distress. The School Reform Commission, which replaced the local school board, favored privatization and the creation of charter schools over more traditional means of educational reform. And giving more funding to the district was not part of the reform program.

The situation reached a crisis shortly after Hite took the helm when Gov. Tom Corbett cut $ 1 billion in state aid to districts after the federal stimulus funding cut off.

With a quarter of that amount – $ 250 million – absorbed by Philadelphia, the district was forced to fire all of its counselors and nurses in a bid to make ends meet.

In the years that followed, the district was strengthened financially, which enabled it to make additional investments. But he was never quite successful in eliminating his structural deficit, which means his annual income never exceeded his annual expenses. Budgets were often balanced through one-time grants from city council rather than a recurring tax hike, and the state never significantly increased its annual allocation to its largest district.

Philadelphia, like many other districts in Pennsylvania, is counting on a fair funding lawsuit due in November, which will force the state to increase education spending and allocate state dollars more equitably. , on the basis of a formula based on registrations. and the needs of students.

Last year the name of Hite was on a short list to serve as education secretary under President Joe Biden. But for the first time, Hite received a ‘need for improvement’ rating from the Board of Education for systems leadership and promoting student success, citing the botched co-location of Science Leadership Academy and Benjamin High School. Franklin and the continued closure of schools with potentially dangerous asbestos.

Prior to coming to Philadelphia, Hite, then 51, had served as superintendent of public schools in Prince George County, Maryland, another predominantly poor and underfunded school district just outside of Washington, DC. There, as he would in Philadelphia, he was forced to make tough spending choices.

He began his teaching career as a physical education teacher in his home state of Virginia. He became a college principal and spent 20 years in Henrico County, Virginia, before becoming an assistant superintendent in Cobb County, Georgia. He joined the Prince George District in 2006 as a Second-in-Command and became Superintendent there in 2009.

At the time, the president of the Prince George school board said it was “sincere to make child-centered decisions.” He described himself at the time as a “servant leader” who had the ambition to “completely reorganize the way schools are run”.

At the end of this contract, Hite will be in Philadelphia for 10 years while he pays his pension.


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Digital twin technology in student education

What does it take to make this possible?

To make this future a possibility, the entire education sector will need to mobilize to be innovative.

First, invest in global digital literacy, this way new learners can always engage in this new world in a safe way. Then all students and educational institutions will need a high quality internet connection. This will need to be supported by the arrival of unlimited connectivity to help create a platform for new concepts such as XR, the Internet of Senses, and cloud-based AI. The emergence of these immersive experiences will require a network computational structure that will bring processing to the edge. For teachers and learners to collaborate in real time within these experiences, ultra-low latency will be required.

For online education to be effective and widespread, security is paramount. Therefore, networks will only work if they are reliable, secure and trustworthy, which means that the privacy and data of any learner is protected.

Find out more

The only way we can bring life-changing technology to the world on a large scale is through partnerships with customers, industries, universities and international organizations. And that’s why we are committed to SDG 17 – Partnerships for the Goals.


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HSD nurses mobilize to meet the challenge during the pandemic

Hollister School District accredited school nurses, as well as health clerks at individual school sites, have been particularly busy during the pandemic.

The following information was provided by the Hollister School District.

Hollister School District Nurses the roles have changed a lot over the years, but even more dramatically since the start of the pandemic.

Nowadays, school nurses who oversee health matters for the district spend a lot of time troubleshooting COVID-19 issues while continuing to take on other duties that were already on their plates before the pandemic.

This broad job base underscores how much the school nurse position, which reports to the student services department of the district office, has changed. These responsibilities may include the following, among a plethora of other duties:

  • Case management of students with mild to severe health needs
  • Training of health auxiliaries who cover the health office
  • Train school staff for students who need specialized health care procedures
  • Management of asthma, diabetes and seizures
  • Vaccinations
  • Visual and hearing screenings
  • Oral and Child Health and Disability Prevention Programs
  • Emergency care

While certified school nurse Miranda Eyster noted that asthma has always been the most common diagnosis among students, she pointed out that COVID-19 has forced a shift in priorities.

“We spend, I would say, the majority of our time dealing with COVID issues,” said Eyster, health needs manager at Sunnyslope, Maze and Rancho Santana schools.

Certified school nurse Anita Sarringhaus explained how nurses train staff and oversee care, while site health workers provide that care. She stressed that the health of students and the prevention of childhood illnesses are top priorities.

“Our mantra is that healthy children learn better,” she said. “Our goal is to maximize the learning potential of students by meeting their health needs in school.

This year, the district added a third certified school nurse – to accompany health clerks at each school site – to help cope with the workload. Previously, Eyster and Sarringhaus each oversaw four to five sites. Now each covers three sites. New nurse Alane Warren has a wealth of special education knowledge. She will cover tasks at Ladd Lane, Rancho San Justo and RO Hardin schools.

Eyster recalled the impacts caused at different stages of the pandemic. She remembered “uncharted territory” with students at home for the first year or so.

“Our role changed a lot because a lot of what we normally do we couldn’t do anymore,” Eyster said.

Emphasis was placed on helping school site staff and district office workers as well as “lots of contact tracing.” They also worked with the nutrition department to make sure families received meals and even helped a homeless family raise funds to fund a hotel room and meals.

Before the students returned to campus, nurses also did extensive preparation by reviewing California Department of Public Health and OSHA guidelines that are more restrictive than the school guidelines, said. Eyster.

She noted that between last April and the start of the 2021-22 school year, protocols changed based on evolving guidelines. Last spring, a classroom was reportedly closed with a positive case. Now, that doesn’t necessarily happen. The HIV-positive student should self-quarantine. But students in the class – who were exposed while wearing masks – are allowed to continue attending as long as they quarantine themselves from all extracurricular activities, remain asymptomatic, and test twice during quarantine. amended by 10 days.

Sarringhaus said the updated state guidelines helped the district avoid absences after the long period of distance and hybrid learning. she supervises Cerra Vista, Hollister Dual Language Academy, and Calaveras / Accelerated Achievement Academy.

“It allows us to keep children in school safe, which is our # 1 priority,” she said.

Much of this effort comes from health clerks in individual schools. While nurses are required to have a bachelor’s degree, public health nursing license, and diploma, clerks range from those with a medical history to “moms” who find their way into these roles because they enjoy the job. said Sarringhaus.

“‘Since there are only three of us, in a district of 5,700 students, we could not do our job without our health aides,” she said. “They take care of our students every day and alert us when they have concerns. We then take that information and act on it. “

While Sarringhaus has been a district nurse for 15 years, Eyster started in 2013 as a contract nurse helping students with diabetes.

“I loved being in a school environment, being around students and getting to know them,” Eyster said. “It’s a little different every day. It is never stale. There is always something new to learn.

COVID-19 continues to create challenges with more students on campus this year, she said.

“There seems to be this feeling of stress or fear or worry that everyone has when it comes to COVID,” she said. “We are constantly changing their feelings by telling them that everything will be fine. ”

Assistant Superintendent Kip Ward said that with all that was going on, the three nurses handled “incredible amounts of work” under pressure.

“I have so much respect and appreciation for what they experience and manage on a daily basis,” Ward said.


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“Blended learning is what we will need in the next few days”

Dr Kazi Shahidullah

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Dr Kazi Shahidullah

Professor Dr Kazi Shahidullah, chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC), former chairman of the history department of Dhaka University and former vice-chancellor of the National University, talks to the Daily Star’s Naznin Tithi on how universities can recover from lost learning when they resume face-to-face classes and why our universities should continue online education alongside classroom education.

As universities (public and private) prepare to resume in-person classes soon, how do you think the learning loss of the past year and a half can be recouped? Does the UGC have specific directives for universities, especially public ones, to deal with this problem?

There is a lot of salvage work to be done. But I believe that our public universities will find a way out of this crisis. After reopening, the jam session would undoubtedly be a problem. The jam session is nothing new here. Public universities have faced jam session issues in the past and have overcome them successfully. So, there is no reason why they cannot do it now. Additional efforts must come from all parties (teachers, students and administrators) to tackle the problem. Being a former DU professor, I know how the university went through many times of crisis and also recovered. Ways and means of recovering from learning loss should be discussed and worked out by the respective universities. In public universities, university unions, academic councils, dean’s committees as well as academic committees of respective departments need to discuss the issue and find a solution.

As far as I can remember, UGC sent out guidelines to universities about two months ago suggesting our ideas on how to recoup the learning loss in order to help universities resolve the issue. We made proposals such as trimming the lesson plan focusing on the most important parts of the program. Another proposal we made was to reduce vacations after reopening. Teachers may have to sacrifice vacations and work overtime, if necessary, to overcome this crisis. They will have to organize the exams on time and publish the results on time, which will require greater coordination and cooperation from all. Another suggestion would be to extend class time to one hour instead of the current 50 minutes. These are just a few basic ideas. I’m sure our public universities will measure up and find ways to tackle learning loss. It will not be resolved overnight; we will need time for that.

The digital divide in higher education has become a source of serious concern during this period. What lessons have we learned from it? How will universities deal with the issue in the future?

The digital divide is a reality for us. The rural-urban gap and the rich-poor gap are quite significant here. In March 2020, when universities closed at the request of the government, we at UGC suggested keeping online courses open. The idea was to keep students engaged in education. At the time, we had no idea the pandemic would last that long. Later, we realized that online classes were the only option we had left.

We noticed that the private universities wanted to open up but the public universities were not responding as much. We had to conduct some investigations to understand the reasons for this and we learned that many students in public universities did not have the necessary devices to participate in online courses. After giving a lot of effort, we were able to raise funds and for the first time in the history of this country, UGC granted loans to students of public universities to buy devices. When the device issue was somewhat resolved, we learned that many students did not have the money to purchase the high-priced internet packages. We then sat down with the ISPs to discuss the issue and got good answers from them. Based on our discussions, they have offered exclusive internet packages only for students. But even that did not give us the desired result as students in rural areas had connectivity issues. Another obstacle the students had to face was the interruption of the electricity connection in the villages. It is therefore undeniable that the digital divide has been a big problem during this time. UGC has tried to do everything in its power to make online education a success. But it cannot do anything for infrastructure development, the government must do it. We hope that the situation will improve in the future.

At present, only a few public universities have made progress in immunizing or enrolling their students for vaccines, while the rest are still lagging behind. What is the current situation in this regard? Will this have an impact on the reopening plan?

We have around 3.5 lakh of students in our public universities. Among them, 2.5 lakh students took the first dose of the vaccine. There are about 1.3 lakh of students at public universities who are residents of the hall. Of these, 1.18 lakh took at least one vaccine injection. I think the situation is quite satisfactory.

However, if we take into account the students of the national university and the seven colleges of the University of Dhaka, the total number of students would amount to around 43 lakh – among them, around 18 lakh have registered for the vaccines. And, of those 18 lakh, 5.5 lakh received the first dose of the vaccine. So there is still a lot to cover. By the way, those are the statistics from last Monday.

Of course, one of our goals is to bring the vaccination to a satisfactory level before the start of in-person classes. But I don’t think it will affect the plan to reopen universities as each university will reopen after they complete their preparations. If the authorities of a particular university feel they are not ready, it may take a while for them to reopen, but many universities will reopen very soon. While one university may start in-person classes in, say, five days, another university may need 15 days to start the process, but that shouldn’t be a problem. What is most important is that universities will have to reopen maintaining all health and safety guidelines. Vaccinating all students is the most important part, but it’s not the only way to fight the pandemic, according to all experts. Vaccinations will help, but students will also need to maintain other health guidelines such as wearing masks, washing hands, and maintaining a safe distance from each other.

As Covid-19 will continue to be a factor for the foreseeable future, experts have stressed the need to accommodate in-person and blended / hybrid learning to be able to respond to any emergency. What is the UGC’s plan for possible future disruptions to academic activities? What kind of reforms does the higher education sector need based on what we have learned over the past 1.5 years?

Blended / hybrid learning is especially important for a country like ours where we face many types of adversities from time to time in our higher education sector. What we have achieved during this pandemic is that we should continue to take online classes alongside in-person classes. It will now be an integral part of our education system. Since we have to live with Covid-19, blended learning is what we will need in the coming days.

One of the basic problems is that our teachers do not have the expertise in online teaching. It is also a new concept for them. Teachers must be trained to meet the expectations of students. What UGC is trying to do is train university professors to teach online. We are now devoting our time, energy and resources to capacity building. About a month ago, we ran an online teacher training program in conjunction with the American Cultural Center. We also worked with the Commonwealth Educational Media Center for Asia (CEMCA) to organize a workshop attended by 1,000 of our teachers. As I speak to you, a workshop is underway with CEMCA titled “Online and Hybrid Learning in Higher Education” which will last 20 days. Through these workshops, our teachers will acquire the skills necessary to provide students with a quality education online. UGC runs such programs to give our teachers first-hand knowledge of the technical processes involved in e-learning.

We have seen many changes in the higher education sector in the 21st century. New technologies have started to emerge, which impacts our work environment. So now the challenge facing our university administrators is to transform our curriculum from stale to updated. At the same time, they need to focus on skills development and infrastructure development, in order to be able to provide the talent needed for an innovative and digital economy. The growth and prosperity of our country will critically depend on the ability of universities to adapt to changes in society and the economy. Our university administrators must always remain vigilant and do their best to be able to modify and modernize the program according to the needs of the rapidly changing global economy. This is how our graduates will remain relevant to the demands of the market.


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Rollins lacks faculty and resources to pursue hybrid courses

Graphic by Francisco Wang Yu

The Rollins administration has opted out of e-learning for fall 2021.

According to VP Academic Affairs and Provost, Dr. Susan Singer, this decision was made because the potential risks of continuing with a hybrid model outweighed the benefits.

“We learned last year that students want to be on campus to learn in person with each other and with their faculty members who are delighted to welcome them back,” Singer said. “Blended learning was far from optimal for everyone. We simply lack the faculty and resources to offer both in-person and virtual versions of our courses. “

While Rollins has committed to an exclusively in-person model for classes, Singer said there are accommodations for students who are legitimately unable to attend a class in person for reasons such as the need to put quarantine or isolate if exposed or contracted. of COVID-19.

Singer said “joining virtually is an option” for these students. Singer also said other options for quarantined students include, but are not limited to, taking audio recordings of the class, appointing dedicated note-takers, and posting slide presentation material used in. conferences on Canvas.

When asked if Rollins could reconsider her current stance on Webex courses, Singer said she was confident in the ability of the Rollins community to meet challenges while keeping everyone safe while learning by. anybody.

“In the past year and a half, we have not had a single case of transmission of COVID-19 in a classroom. If we can all persist in wearing our masks indoors and distance ourselves socially, we have a very good chance of continuing to learn together in person, ”Singer said.


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Classrooms Need a ‘Voice Elevator’ to Adapt to the New Normal

After being one of the first countries in the world to fully transition students to online learning in the wake of Covid-19, the UAE has been equally effective in restarting in-person classes. With the primary concerns of parents and guardians being the well-being of their children, it is understandable that the greatest importance when re-entering students into classrooms has been to ensure that health and safety protocols exist. appropriate are developed and adhered to. Now that these measures have been effectively implemented and proven, it is time for schools and universities to adapt classrooms and lecture halls to the new challenges that have emerged in the post-Covid world.

Evolution of learning spaces
As a result of measures such as social distancing, the pandemic has fundamentally altered the way we relate to the space around us. While the solution may seem simple – letting fewer learners in and keeping them well separated – keeping person-to-person proximity within acceptable limits poses unique challenges in classrooms, auditoriums and other facilities that make up the classroom. typical educational institution.

Additionally, while blended learning has recently been catapulted into the limelight as a solution to Covid-related challenges, its benefits go beyond simply optimizing classroom and office occupancy. maintaining social distance. This model offers students unparalleled levels of flexibility. With the ability to record lectures, it allows them to choose not only where, but also when they learn. Now that universities have to compete not only with each other, but with increasingly professional and comprehensive online learning platforms that have exploded in popularity over the past year, allowing students to learn as they wish it will be the key to success, especially for higher education institutions. . Embracing blended learning is no longer an option, so schools and universities need to adapt to the demands that arise from this paradigm.

Consideration for the modern classroom
Besides the obvious restrictions in communication and the ability to understand each other clearly while being physically distant from each other, several factors such as classmates joining at a distance, chatty students, noise from air conditioning, repetitive sounds such as typing and tapping as well as poor room acoustics can now dramatically impact the way students interact with a lecturer and with each other. In this context, schools and universities must now seek to adapt their current spaces to new requirements.

Reassessing existing A / V equipment becomes crucial to this process.

With some students joining in-person lectures or seminars and others participating virtually through conferencing apps like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, institutions need to invest in effective audio ecosystems that not only connect virtual attendees to presenters, but watch also the big picture: ensuring good quality sound in the room between all the physical members, as well as the connection of the members in the room with virtual participants. All groups need to be able to freely interact with each other and get along well, whether they are online or where the person is seated in the classroom or conference room.

Elevate hearing experiences
Voice Lift technology plays a crucial role in making the vision of a seamless hybrid classroom a reality. It uses components of a traditional audio system to provide voice amplification to all participants in a room. The beauty of such a system is that it only increases the speech level by a few decibels (dB) to account for the decrease in speech intelligibility due to the distance between people in the room. The effect is so subtle that it is often not even noticed by physical participants, let alone virtual participants.

Voice Lift technology can help overcome poor room acoustics and compensate for the decrease in speech intelligibility that accompanies social distancing in large rooms. Like a conventional sound system, Voice Lift technology requires components such as microphones, amplifiers, digital signal processors, and speakers. And – in the days of Covid-19 and beyond – it is the microphone side that presents the most practical option for optimizing a voice elevation system.

Hybrid education is here to stay
Classrooms that blend the physical and virtual worlds are here to stay. The benefits they offer to higher education facilities beyond contactless audio and convenience are obvious. For universities, distance students have become an additional source of income, and offering sophisticated solutions for distance participation will make courses more attractive to distance students.

The addition of voice elevator technology will make these hybrid experiences enjoyable for students attending classes in person: remote audio is clearly understandable anywhere in the room, and a presenter is clearly heard regardless. the distance at which one can be seated. Voice elevator systems provide a very natural and seamless communication experience between all members of the chat, whether they are located in the same room or participating from a distance. In so doing, they enable educational institutions not only to meet the challenges of the pandemic, but also to effectively adapt to new paradigms in education that are sure to endure long into the post-COVID era.

Ryan Burr is Technical Sales and Application Engineering Manager, Professional Audio at Sennheiser Middle East


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Google.org and TalkingPoints team up to support teachers and students

Navigating the school system can be difficult. For parents whose first language is not English, it is even more difficult. Family engagement can help. Family engagement – defined as the involvement of a family in the education of its child – is a powerful and underused lever for student success. No one knows this better than Heejae Lim. The founder of Discussion points, Heejae leads the work of the non-profit tech association connecting multilingual families and teachers through accessible technology.

In 2018, TalkingPoints received $ 1.5 million in funding from Google.org and a full-time Google.org Fellows team. One of those fellows was Fiona Yeung, a UX designer. I had the pleasure of chatting with Heejae and Fiona to learn how they connect families and educators.

Shannon Farley: Heejae and Fiona, you are both children of immigrants. What experiences growing up connect you to the mission of TalkingPoints?

Heejae Lim: As a Korean immigrant, I grew up learning English as a second language and went to school with many immigrant friends. But there was an essential difference between my experience and theirs. My mother spoke English which gave her “the voice” and the ability to be involved in my education. She helped me with my homework and figured out what it meant when my school sent home an authorization slip that required her signature.

This was not the case with my immigrant friends whose parents did not speak English. These peers had difficulty in school. Some have given up. I realized that the difference in our trajectories was not due to gaps in intelligence, but because of my mother’s involvement in my learning. And I knew my experience was not unique. I saw a tremendous opportunity to facilitate this engagement for the millions of immigrant students and families who are left behind by our education system. And that’s how TalkingPoints was born.

Fiona Yeung: I’m a first generation Canadian with Asian parents, so I grew up speaking Chinese or “chinglish” – a mixture of Chinese and English – at home and English at school. Like countless families, we have experienced the linguistic divide which has made it difficult to navigate the school system. I feel a huge connection and a huge responsibility to TalkingPoints’ mission to help families overcome this divide, because their story is also mine.

Shannon: At TalkingPoints, you focus on an important aspect of educational opportunities: family engagement. Why did you choose this approach?

Heejae: Research clearly shows that family engagement can be twice as efficient to predict student success as the wealth level of a family. Family engagement can be transformative for students, but immigrant families face significant challenges in supporting their child’s learning. Barriers range from language gaps and multiple jobs, to being overwhelmed by the unfamiliar American school system. At TalkingPoints, we remove these barriers with accessible technology. Our goal is to unleash the potential of family engagement and, in so doing, the potential of students across the country.

Shannon: You’ve been successful so far. TalkingPoints has reached over 3 million teachers and families. Can you explain to us how you support them?

Heejae: Thanks Shannon! At TalkingPoints, we harness the power of technology to build relationships between educators and families in disadvantaged communities. Our multilingual engagement platform connects family members and teachers through messages translated back and forth, informed by human translation, and powered by artificial intelligence. It’s as easy as texting. Accessible technology is at the heart of our mission, so families only need access to SMS to get started.

Shannon: Tell me more about how you take advantage of AI!

Heejae: Our use of AI allows us to deliver the highest quality and contextually relevant translations. Additionally, we use AI to understand patterns of communication between families and teachers. These themes help us identify best practices for relationship building.

Shannon: Fiona, you joined the TalkingPoints team in a pretty unique way – as a Google.org Fellow. Thanks to this program for Google employees, you have volunteered six months at TalkingPoints. What did you work on?

Fiona: Working with TalkingPoints through the Google.org exchange has been an amazing experience. As a UX designer, I was able to help TalkingPoints visually rethink and reinvent its three applications. From evolving its communications application to offering product support, to designing new features for the web application, I have been delighted to provide key contributions to the TalkingPoints platform.

On a more personal note, it was very rewarding to use my design expertise to support a mission close to my heart. I feel fortunate to have been able to make a real impact on the families served by TalkingPoints.

Shannon: Heejae, what was it like hosting Google.org fellows?

Heejae: It was awesome. As the host organization, we have been fortunate to harness top talent within Google. The fellows brought a new perspective. They have helped us make significant progress towards our mission. And, by working with fellows, our TalkingPoints team has gained valuable experience and knowledge.

Fiona: Since the scholarship, I have stayed in touch with the TalkingPoints team by helping shape UX processes and onboarding the team’s first UX hire. I am so excited to see what they are going to accomplish.

Shannon: As of March 2020, education is radically different. How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your work at TalkingPoints?

Heejae: The pandemic has widened the learning gaps that already exist for underserved students. We saw a huge opportunity to support students and teachers while they were at home. So we have grown to facilitate 100 million conversations between over 3 million teachers and parents by the end of 2020. This impact really highlights the need for our work, and I am delighted to continue to accelerate our work. growth.

Shannon: What will be the impact of TalkingPoints and the features you’ve created together over the next school year and beyond?

Heejae: Looking to the future, our team is blessed with valuable information, innovations and new technologies forged over more than a year of distance learning. As we collectively fight against student learning loss due to the pandemic, family-school connections will be essential in helping students regain lost ground. I am delighted to lead this effort and continue to expand the work of TalkingPoints to reach more families across the country.

Fiona: Echoing what Heejae said, as the world continues to shift to distance and hybrid learning, tools like TalkingPoints will be more important than ever. I am so proud to have been a part of this work, and look forward to supporting the TalkingPoints team in the years to come.


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