We all know education delivery has been shaken up this year. The pandemic has forced institutions to pivot rapidly to virtual education and universities have had to compile a set of software quickly to enable it.
Meanwhile, Zoom has become a way of life and is often included in institutions' preferred list of technology for online learning. Its explosive growth is unprecedented, scaling from 10 million to more than 300 million daily active participants since March this year.
But it was designed for meetings, not for teaching and learning. And it's successful uptake across institutions might be described as the right place, right time.
That, however, could be about to change with the launch of a new platform, Class for Zoom.
Built on Zoom, designed for education
Zoom doesn't really let educators replicate the in-person educational experience in an online environment. Nothing does. But could it do more?
Prominent members of the board at video conferencing company Zoom believe so and have put their weight behind a new initiative.
The company, called ClassEdu, has developed a set of innovative features that extend the capabilities of Zoom, that are specifically designed to support students (and tutors) in delivering education online through video conferencing.
The product will enable those involved in teaching to link to syllabus materials, track attendance, hand out assignments, give students quizzes and quick tests, grade work. It also includes tools so they can talk one-to-one with students, provide resources, website links, and videos, link to materials on Blackboard and Moodle, and access an online whiteboard, all within Zoom.
Other unique features put the focus directly on the tutor. By taking them out of the grid view of faces we're all familiar with, it shifts the focal point onto the tutor, and it will even let tutors put their materials on the screen behind them so that they can point to relevant images or graphs and resources just as though they're in a classroom environment.
And naturally, the software has been designed to make the student feel more active, and more engaged in their classes. Students can be positioned ‘at the front of the class' to ask questions or to present, and in a nod to the increasing hybridization of education, the screen environment can show students sitting together in a physical location on-campus alongside classmates attending from home.
Elsewhere, two-way feedback has been given more attention so tutors can give stars to students who are engaged in the learning experience, and conversely to encourage students to provide feedback to tutors. The chat functionality that is used sparsely in business calls will also be enhanced to encourage more conversation and engagement.
And tutors will get more insights with a traffic light system automatically indicating the degree to which students are talking and engaging in the conversation so that they can actively bring quieter students into the fold and involve them in the lesson.
Everything is then packaged up for tutors in a dashboard to put more engagement knowledge at their fingertips to check over the following classes.
Online learning is here to stay
Due to the coronavirus, education has drastically changed as students and teachers shift to online learning models. Teachers need to connect with their students online, and students need innovative solutions to complete their tasks working towards their educational goals.
As the pandemic forces more teaching online, the quality of virtual learning is going to become a key differentiator.
Zoom wants to be a part of that and plans to launch later this year. Institutions can schedule a demo and join the beta waitlist at classforzoom.com.
Could you see your faculty taking up Class for Zoom?