Students and educators worldwide weathered the tough times of forced home-based learning, and now we have built back better, with digitalization

According to a Mckinsey report on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on online learning trends, the number of students taking up hybrid and distance-only courses at traditional universities had increased by an additional 92% in 2020 over the growth rate of 36% between 2012 and 2019. 

As lockdowns took the world by surprise, education sectors everywhere scrambled to put together solutions that were either not compatible or difficult to use. Other problems such as the lack of intuitive learning interfaces intensified the challenges of faculty staff with little remote- and hybrid- teaching experience.

According to Jacques Bertrand, Executive Vice President, Crestron Asia, the frustration of connectivity issues created a sense of detachment that had impacted both student engagement and accessibility, and limited cybersecurity measures and less-than-secure public networks had led to even more headaches for IT departments at the universities.

Here, he shares more with about how overcoming the challenges with digital transformation has strengthened the resilience of educational institutions worldwide.

DigiconAsia: How has collaborative technology enriched home-based and online learning experiences today?

Jacques Bertrand, Executive Vice President, Crestron Asia

Jacques Bertrand (JB): Collaborative technology has enabled rapid digital acceleration in the education sector, which has benefited students and faculty alike.

It has personalized the learning experience and helped to make hybrid learning more robust and comprehensive.

There are three key areas where collaborative technology is redefining and enriching the education sector: web-based video conferencing, wireless presentation, and scheduling.

DigiconAsia: How is the mindset towards hybrid and blended learning evolving in the Asia Pacific region?

JB: The widespread adoption of hybrid education is driven by a few factors. Firstly, the exponential growth of technology in areas like video conferencing and collaboration tools has enhanced the robustness of unified collaboration. Secondly, the changing nature of the classroom is designed to navigate disruptions without impacting the continuity of teaching and learning.

However, when it comes to digital infrastructure and mindset towards blended or hybrid learning, the Asia Pacific region comprises countries that are at different stages of development.

In some markets, traditional teaching methods are dominant, while in other markets, it has to be tweaked to be in sync with existing technologies.

Irrespective of the market nuances, the prevailing student mindset demands a hybrid approach to learning leveraging multi-dimensional engagement that can only be facilitated by technology.

DigiconAsia: In that regard, what are some key trends in the region’s education sectors’ adoption of technology for immersive collaborative learning?

JB: The pandemic has accelerated several instructional technology trends and created two distinct types of learning solutions: hybrid and hyflex.

    • Hybrid learning combines elements of face-to-face classroom instruction with online instruction.
    • Hyflex learning is an approach to teaching that allows student sto decide how to interact with the course material.

Immersive collaborative technology is key to both. This would comprise:

    • High quality audio and video:To facilitate better student-educator interaction, mics have to provide proper coverage for the size of the room, and shut out ambient noise. Loudspeakers and headsets must be free from distortion, and feature echo-cancelling, and so on.
    • • Data-driven resource planning: – Educators need to deploy solutions that automatically collect room and device usage data and generate reports to drive better resource planning and budgeting.
    • Device lifecycle management: As device upgrades and updating are often necessary for online learning, and this can be disruptive to training schedules, educational institutions need to have a comprehensive view of device lifecycles, and use that information to schedule updates, anticipates educator/student needs, and prepare budgets more efficiently.

DigiconAsia: What are some factors to keep in mind when implementing a hybrid learning system? 

JB: Having a clear view of one’s goals and outcomes is the first consideration before implementing a hybrid learning system.

Is it to enhance the learning experience and collaboration between teachers and students, or is it to improve communication between other institutions?

It is critical to note that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and the focus is on finding a system that should plug most if not all of the gaps. The quality of the user experience also needs to be considered.

With the benchmark experience of face-to-face learning combined with the convenience and accessibility of distance learning, students in the region and beyond can enjoy a more personalized and crisis-proof education.

Also, digitalization enables the hybrid education space to be inclusive to not just the students based in the classroom but also those joining-in remotely. There should not be a gap in the user experience as the right technology ensures equitability.

Similarly, in enterprise settings, online courses using the right technologies will allow remote and in-person participants to , effectively engage, share content and join the conversation from anywhere they choose to be. 

DigiconAsia thanks Jacques Bertrand for sharing his insights with readers.