The concept of distance education is nothing new, but it is evolving all the time, especially as improvements to distance learning technology have helped to make new teaching methods and approaches possible. With the vast majority of modern distance education courses now being online-based, some of the technology that was previously advantageous or desirable can now be considered essential.
Read this article to learn more about the technology that is most essential for remote learning, or learn more about how ViewSonic is helping improve student outcomes!
Improvements to distance learning technology have helped to make remote education a completely viable alternative to in-person, classroom-style lessons and courses. As a result, many of the classic barriers to education, such as cost, geographical location, and space on courses can potentially be removed.
However, while innovation has certainly helped to unlock the potential of distance education, reliance on modern technology has also made some devices, services and software solutions essential – or close to it. In this article, we explore some examples of distance learning technology that teachers and students are likely to require.
Devices and Peripherals
The majority of modern distance education courses are online-based, which means it is essential to own certain devices and peripherals. Some of the main examples of this are as follows:
Teachers and students alike are going to be required to carry out a range of different online tasks over the duration of a distance learning course. At various points, there may be a need to type, use software applications, save, download and share files, watch videos, and make use of text, video, or audio-based communication methods.
In order to actually carry out these tasks, you are almost certainly going to require a desktop or laptop computer and a Windows-based option is the safest bet, especially given the fact that Windows 10 is the most popular desktop operating system by market share. It may be possible to utilize other internet-enabled devices, like smartphones or tablets, but these may not offer the same level of convenience and you may run into compatibility problems.
Writing and Drawing Pads
Because students are using online technology, many skills like writing are under utilized in the virtual classroom. However, many of these skills can be maintained by having students use drawing pads and other writing devices. With writing and drawing pads like WoodPad, students are able to maintain natural handwriting and digitize all notes instantly.
Writing and drawing pads are great for not only handwriting, but they are a personalized way for students to brainstorm, share notes, and create artwork. They are also much more portable than some forms of EdTech like a touch monitor which allows students to comfortably brainstorm and share within a document from any learning environment.
Headphones, Camera, and Microphone
Audio communication only works if everyone in the learning group can make themselves heard and can also hear others clearly. For this reason, it is important that teachers and students participating in virtual classrooms, one-to-one video sessions, and other similar activities have access to both a set of headphones and a microphone.
Most modern laptops and tablets will come with a built-in camera and microphone, but webcams and microphones can also be purchased for devices where these are not included. In many cases, however, it will be best to invest in a pair of high-quality headphones, with a built-in microphone, as these will offer crisp, reliable sound.
Some additional devices and peripherals may be vital in certain circumstances. For instance, a printer may be an essential piece of distance learning technology for correspondence courses, where work may need to be sent via conventional mail, and they may be useful for online courses too, allowing you to print learning materials.
For educators, a touch display can make it significantly easier to give presentations, complete with real-time annotation, and will be essential for digital whiteboarding. For students, screen-splitting software or a second monitor or screen could potentially be beneficial, especially when it comes to facilitating effective multi-tasking.
In addition to having the devices and peripherals required to participate in online classes, communication solutions are also essential distance learning technology. In particular, these options may be useful or even crucial:
Ensuring effective communication is one of the most vital aspects of any distance learning course and email can be especially useful, because it allows information, instructions and even files to be sent at any time, even if the recipient is not online. Therefore, access to an email account is vital and a good email client can be advantageous as well.
However, there may be times when more immediate text-based communication is required too and instant messaging solutions are likely to be the best option here. WhatsApp and Telegram represent some of the most popular mobile options, but various social networks and online chat programs can also potentially be used on a computer. On top of this, for less urgent text-based communication, message boards or discussion forums could be provided.
Many distance education courses depend upon synchronous learning, which means members of the learning group will require access to some form of live video communication. Some of the potential solutions here include applications like Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Skype, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, FaceTime, and Zoom.
For teachers, it is recommended to have options available for both video conferencing and live streaming, as both have their uses. Screen sharing and digital whiteboarding can also be invaluable, helping to share information in real-time and encourage live collaboration, and myViewBoard may be the ideal all-in-one solution for these needs.
Modern digital technology has greatly enhanced the quality of distance learning courses and helped to break down many of the barriers to education, but there are now certain devices, peripherals, services and software solutions that are mandatory, or almost impossible to work effectively without. In particular, students and teachers alike require internet-enabled devices, ancillary devices, and a variety of online communication options.
If you want to learn 5 more benefits technology can have in your classroom, you can read them here! Or stop by ViewSonic’s education solution page for more information regarding your unique classroom needs.