The United Nationsrecognises education as a fundamental human right, one that is essential for the exercise of all other human rights. While most developing nations face challenges to make education accessible to all, technologyhas presented new avenues to students and institutions as distance learning programs bridge the education gap.
Institutions and their leadership need to define objectives of distance learning programs as barriers of geographies, availability of faculty, or printed course materials fade away. It remains a matter of choice for them between setting-up systems in-house, or outsourcing entire process to specialized service providers that offer turnkey solutions. While many doubts may still exist, forward-thinking programs that utilise the potential of technology may be the answer to achieving the target of educating the masses in the near future.
EduBeam Virtual Classroom System is designed to allow universities and institutions to ease the gap between available resources and the goal of “education for all”. It uses the best technology to provide a superior learning experience, and study environment that is as inspiring and engaging as any live classroom. Virtual classrooms by EduBeam eliminate time, distance and resource constraints and bring quality education for distant learners in real time across locations. The technology uses satellites and terrestrial networks that enable integrated conferencing application that is scalable and cost effective.
A few basic steps in planning by the leadership helps in making the best use of EduBeam Virtual Classrooms while deliveringquality education programs for a larger number of students.
Goals of a virtual classroom
Understanding the students is the first step towards setting up virtual classrooms. Students may be residing in remote locations, and travelling to the main campus maybe difficult for them. Or, the virtual classroom may be intended for professionals who wish to add another qualification to their resume while continuing with their jobs. A distance-learning program must define the following:
- Where the students will be
- Who they are
- What they need to learn, and
- How will they learn
Availability of learning infrastructure is also important. If the students have little or no access to technology, setting up learning centres may be a better idea than Internet classrooms.
EduBeam experts assist institutions in defining these goals and infrastructure requirements.
Design of a virtual classroom
For each course, a virtual classroom requires a different design, and there is a cost attached to executing those designsthat suit the program’s objectives best.
The process itself may be divided into three phases:
Designing the course material by experienced and specialised faculty is an essential part of the process. Even before virtualisation of the classroom may begin, library resources, hardware and software support etc. must be considered in order to enhance the overall efficiency of the program.
Delivery modules for some courses may require faculty intervention at various junctures – including assessment, counseling and interactions, while others may need a minimal intervention. Regardless, it constitutes a cost that needs to be considered while designing the program.
Regular maintenance and updates are required to keep the course content in-line with the expectations of the students and program guidelines. Factoring maintenance into the design process ensures that the program stays concurrent with its objectives.
While implementing EduBeam Virtual Classroom System, the EduBeam team takes care of all interface design and content delivery related issues and provides a fully functional system that requires very low maintenance. The system uses satellite and/or terrestrial networks that allow it to remain highly cost effective at all times.
Cost and time estimates per interaction
Estimating the cost and time spent by faculty and support staff on producing course material is crucial for program developers. While experienced faculty members may be enthusiastic about the possibilities of the virtual classroom and willing to dedicate more hours in content development, it may not be a cost effective solution.
EduBeam Virtual Classroomis designed carefully by experts to make it compatible with different teaching methods. It allows training and interaction with students sitting in different parts of a region in real time. Faculty can also demonstrate experiments efficiently using the virtual classroom. It engages the students and encourages them to interact with faculty and other students in different parts of the region. The interactive method of teaching also helps in decreasing the dropout rate considerably, increasing productivity and, therefore, cost effectiveness of this remote education system.
The steps discussed above outline a basic framework for designing and developing a distance-learning program for universities. EduBeam Virtual Classroom System helps in defining these criteria, ensuring that all efforts are focused towards achieving the goals of the program for the benefit of students and providing them a better leaning experience.