When the pandemic hit, teachers’ ability to effectively teach our children crumbled. The virtual classroom became the center of the educational universe, with teachers presenting material from their computers at home. On the other side of these virtual classrooms, students and parents were attempting to learn from their bedrooms, living rooms, and kitchens. The system lacked interactivity, making it difficult for students to stay focused and engage with the material. The good news was that teachers and technology companies quickly went to work to find a solution. Hybrid learning solutions aimed to provide an environment as similar as possible to a traditional educational experience for both the students at home and those who had decided to return to the classroom. In one instance, HP worked with educators to equip classrooms with special sets of cameras to allow students to connect remotely to view both the teacher and the content at the same time. As hybrid learning solutions became even more flexible, students and their parents gained the ability to choose whether they would return to school full-time, part-time, or not at all, knowing that whatever they chose, they would still have access to an engaging, productive classroom experience.
DIGITAL COLLABORATION FEATURES
Hand raising functionality lets students virtually raise their hand during class, which then makes them more visible by sending them to the top of the gallery view
Breakout rooms enable students and teachers to gather in small groups to have more meaningful interactions
INCREASED COLLABORATION AND ENGAGEMENT
When it comes to the specifics of how technology is helping to improve online classrooms and enable full-fledged hybrid learning, companies like Zoom are continually working on ways to improve and refine the experience. Here are a few of the tools that can benefit both students and their teachers by increasing participation, collaboration, and safety.
Security features, such as limiting who can join individual classes and giving teachers more control over security while still offering the flexibility to, for example, allow external guest speakers, are all available to help ensure a secure, contained educational environment “33% of post-secondary school administrators indicate they will continue to offer both remote and online course options even after their campuses have reopened and normal operations resumed.” EducationData.org, July 10, 2021
OTHER EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY
As we’ve learned over the past year and a half, staring at a computer all day long is incredibly tiring for students, and the more we can incorporate a variety of different learning experiences, the better off students will be. That’s why beyond computers and tablets, we are now looking to additional technologies, such as virtual reality and augmented reality, to help create even more immersive experiences. These types of devices, particularly when used in concert with things like language apps, can give students an entirely different way to learn. We also recognize how critical it is to come up with solutions that work for the greatest number of students. Ensuring equity amongst students and access to a variety of tools no matter a student’s economic background is critical.
The most essential part of the process is initiating “those internal conversations with your finance office and leadership teams about the plans that you have and how they connect back to the pandemic…Having those internal advocacy processes is really the key to getting access to some of those funds.” - Liz Shay, Improving Participation in Virtual Classrooms June 2021
HOW TO FIND EDUCATION GRANTS FOR TECHNOLOGY
The pandemic was particularly difficult for the education sector, in large part because of the unexpected expense involved in creating an online classroom experience and equipping teachers and students with the tools they needed to be successful. The good news was that in the United States, the Education Stabilization Fund is providing emergency relief to educational institutions for projects related to the pandemic. Only a minimal amount of paperwork is required to take advantage of these resources, although it’s generally
For those institutions who could use some additional support in securing the money, tools such as the HP Grants Support Program provide institutions with grants information, customized funder research, and consultation that will help to develop project ideas, get technology-rich projects funded, and even expand initiatives that are already in the works.
For organizations interested in using this money, Liz Shay from the HP Grants Support Program recommends discussing it with the relevant stakeholders in your organization.