As you embark on a new year with a hybrid education model, how do you solve the ongoing challenges of combining classroom teaching and distance learning? New ideas of what the classroom can be call for new approaches to learning technology. In this article, Lenovo education experts look at how specialist solutions can help teachers support individual students as they learn at their own pace, while securing the education infrastructure from end to end.
Last year was incredibly challenging for the educational sector, with teachers having to manage the risks of becoming infected or transmitting COVID-19, while learning new skills and adapting their teaching methods in response to restrictions.
Across the world, 1.37 billion students were learning from home in March 2020. And yet still, teachers were expected to keep students engaged with learning material, even as many schools were understaffed due to self-isolation.
Now, as we begin a new year, educators need to get to grips with the new classroom format. Students must be able to learn both in-class and from home, but the hybrid classroom – while offering a greater degree of flexibility, safety, and potential for personalisation – also has specific challenges to overcome.
Teachers must contend with the traditional issues of the physical classroom, plus remote technology and management, and the need to successfully integrate the two.
Lenovo’s Smart Classroom solutions portfolio helps to keep education on track, by simplifying the deployment and management of the hybrid classroom. It’s a comprehensive ecosystem of hardware, software and services that’s been made specifically for the educational sector and the challenges it now faces.
For example, whereas before, devices may have been stored and used when needed in class, now students need devices they can use at home. In the early stages of the pandemic response, there was a much higher demand for devices that could support remote learning.
Laptops provided as part of the Lenovo Smart Classroom solution, such as Lenovo Chromebooks are affordable, secure, versatile, easy to manage and – most importantly of all – they’re fast, as they run on the lightweight Chrome OS, which means no student should be left behind as the lessons progress.
Alternatively, Lenovo’s range of Winbooks are also highly accessible and run on Windows 10 Pro, with a range of powerful software tools such as Microsoft Teams for improved collaboration.
Every device in the Lenovo Education portfolio is built for durability. That means they can withstand up to 330ml of spilt liquid, in case of accidents. Each device is also drop-tested to make sure they can handle the bumps and knocks of being carried in a backpack, or falling off a desk. And the keyboards are made with anchored keys, so even the most curious students can’t pry them away.
Hybrid classrooms depend on having the right communication and collaboration tools available too. For example, the ThinkSmart Hub is an integrated video-conferencing device that transforms rooms into a connected environment using built-in camera, directional microphones and speakers. These hub devices can run software such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom, so students and teachers can communicate seamlessly from different locations.
Or there’s the Google Meet Series One solution, which comprises modular devices that can be installed throughout the physical classroom. This includes a dedicated soundbar, microphone pod, Google Meet Camera and remote controller – all of which help to transform physical classrooms into a connected, hybrid environment.
But the challenges of a hybrid classroom extend beyond simply having the right devices. IT administrators need enhanced management solutions to track and maintain new devices. Also, security software becomes even more important in an increasingly distributed network with a growing number of connected devices.
Lenovo provides solutions from industry-leading software developers to meet the needs of managing more complex networks. For example, Absolute device management software helps to manage and update all devices remotely, using a single screen.
Or there’s SentinelOne, which provides highly effective, predictive cybersecurity for every network endpoint, powered by AI. And Lightspeed Systems, which includes content filtering to make sure that students don’t access inappropriate or unsafe material online, with smart analytics that can improve cost-efficiency by providing insight for how devices are being used.
Another key challenge for this new educational model is managing the workflow of every student simultaneously. LANSchool meets this challenge head-on, with a highly intuitive and accessible management platform that helps teachers to keep every student on the same page.
For example, using screen monitoring, teachers can see a grid-view that displays the content currently on each student’s screen. If a student has gone off-topic, teachers have the ability to close that tab.
Alternatively, for managing the class in its entirety, LANSchool provides a Push and Limit Web Content function, which enables a teacher to send every student to the same webpage at the push of a button, while also preventing students from accessing webpages that haven’t been specified.
Smart solutions like these are critically important for students, teachers and IT administrators. Now – and in the years ahead – the entire educational sector will rely on technology as it adjusts to the realities of a new classroom model.
The hybrid classroom presents unique challenges in terms of managing devices, maintaining open communication and effectively blending physical and digital spaces. The Lenovo Smart Classroom portfolio of solutions is ready to support teachers with smart technology for educational continuity.