Reinventing the Way We Get Schooled

Photo credit: iStockphoto/ismagilov

WFH (work from home) and WFA (work from anywhere) trends have been rising since the onset of COVID-19 when businesses and enterprises everywhere sought to shift their operations online. Buffer.com's study noted that 98% of interviewees wanted to continue working remotely (at least for some of the time) for the rest of their careers.

Meanwhile, beginning their school terms, higher-learning institutions are trying to keep their class sizes small to meet new pandemic restrictions. Universities are grappling to make the shift to online learning, even as they face the challenge of delivering learning sessions that are both engaging and interactive.

Enter Barco, a company that provides visualization and collaboration solutions to help people work together and share insights. It believes that the future of meeting and learning is going to be hybrid, consisting of both remote and local participants.

According to Marc Remond, vice president of sales, meeting, and learning experiences at Barco Asia Pacific, organizations can do more to improve engagement and interactivity in their environments. Navigating this experience right will be "crucial to the success of the organization."

"People have overdosed on training being delivered on the standard meeting solutions during COVID-19," he said. "Trainers are complaining that to maintain the same level of engagement is tiring and interacting is difficult. This is especially true for higher learning educational institutions, knowing that they have a problem with capacity, because of safety distancing measures, and alternate student attendance."

Bringing the studio to work and school

The issue with creating a new digital experience is the impact on resources. You need to scale quickly to ensure students or trainees have the right experience. Anything less, and it will put them off.

To maintain or even increase that capacity, Barco is proposing a subscription-based cloud platform solution, specifically designed for education but also for corporate training, to maximize learning and meeting outcomes.

"Unlike traditional meeting solutions, we have designed a solution which puts every student in the front row," said Remond. "We build a studio for the teacher or trainer, to be able to see all the participants and read their body language, interact, and engage with all the students during the virtual class. We are also able to enable not only a fully virtual classroom but also the hybrid model, just like in a meeting space — local and remote students with the same level of engagement as if they were in the same room."

Mimicking a real classroom setting, the remote students are displayed on a video wall facing the trainer. Made of multiple LCD displays of 6 students each, every student is visible and not "squeezed into a single window."

In this studio-based classroom, there are multiple cameras — one is pointed at the teacher; one is pointed at the room; and other optional cameras include those for documents, etc. A document camera stream is useful when the trainer needs the students to look at something else besides the trainer like, for instance, a frog being dissected in a biology class.

Bringing multiple cameras and content streams into the class improves engagement and interactivity. It also gives more context to the remote students, a key differentiator for the Barco solution.

AR for the classrooms

Technology offers students a variety of options to engage. They can raise their hands, send content, and present from their end, and have group breakout sessions with other participants. They can even annotate on the trainer's whiteboard.

Trainers will be able to monitor all of the activity going on in the classroom and also be able to conduct polling and quizzes. Data is overlaid on each student, and in real-time, the trainer receives data and analytics, which can allow him or her to interact or call out to each participant.

In essence, the new solution offers a 360-degree view of the classroom and the interactions and level of engagement throughout the entire class. Barco is offering it as a yearly subscription, including the hardware and licenses for the trainers and students.

Digitizing classroom interactions

To enable a more natural, productive, and differentiating learning environment for both instructors and learners, INSEAD utilizes Barco's solutions with custom-built rooms on both the Fontainebleau and Singapore campuses.

The suite of programs leveraging the Barco technology welcomes 45 participants simultaneously from anywhere in the world. According to the testimonials from the courses' participants, the various programs have been described as being "one of the best online learning experiences," "the combination of good technology and social interaction" and "real classroom interaction" amongst other comments from a range of business professionals from all over the world.

"There is no physical boundary to the workplace or learning institutions anymore," said Remond. "Whatever space I occupy becomes my digital workstation or classroom, and this is where technology becomes my enabler to make sure that people, who are the source of productivity and innovation, can engage, connect and collaborate regardless of location."

Image credit: iStockphoto/ismagilov