School shutdown is not a new concept. From gas leaks that force an individual school to shut, to days in England where an inch of snow brought an entire county to a standstill, typhoons in Hong Kong and finally, air pollution blowing all over Singapore effectively forcing all schools to close so that no one in the country could go outside—including travel to and from school.
No doubt, in such times, it is a challenge to feel that a meaningful teacher-student connection can be maintained without face-to-face interaction.
The team at Schoolbox has been working hard to give schools options to suit their needs and find the best technical solution to enable educators to remotely deliver their curriculum via our all encompassing learning management system and engagement portal.
Top 3 forms of video conferencing software
The options for using video conferencing and broadcasting tools on most online learning platforms comes in 3 main forms:
- Integrations: where the third party’s technology is built directly into the online platform or LMS.
- Learning Tools Interoperability (LTIs): requires an initial set up, but allows users to embed third party technology within their LMS.
- Links: where the online platform provides opportunities to access third party technology outside of the LMS.
Schoolbox: 5 video conferencing technology solutions
Schoolbox has 5 principal methods to support the online learning environment and assist teachers in broadcasting their lessons—check them out below.
Microsoft Teams Meetings
For schools that utilise the Microsoft Office 365 package, the opportunity is now available with the release of Schoolbox v20, to integrate Microsoft Teams Meetings directly into Schoolbox. It simply requires a Superuser to flick the relevant toggle to ON and it’ll be up and running. With the integration, teachers can quickly create links anywhere in the instance to schedule meetings with their students. To ensure students receive timely notifications of these meetings, they are often best placed within news posts or calendar events.
Initially configured as an LTI component, the Zoom LTI Pro app (in combination with the appropriate Zoom education license) is now directly available within Schoolbox. Teachers are able to schedule, host and record lessons of any duration for up to 300 students without needing to leave their class page. The LTI also allows the instance to provision “instructors” and “students” automatically to reduce the burden on the IT administrators of a school to maintain the additional software for remote learning. There is also the option for teachers, even without the Zoom license and LTI component, to use their own Zoom account and copy links to post within their pages, calendars or news feeds to aid in curriculum delivery.
Although it does not directly feature a video conferencing tool, CirQlive is an LTI that can connect Schoolbox with most video conferencing solutions including Cisco Webex and Teams, GoTo Meetings, and BlueJeans. By using CirQlive, there is also the potential to incorporate additional security and access to features that might not otherwise be available through direct LTIs with the video conferencing software.
Schoolbox’s inbuilt video and chat features for flipped learning
It is entirely possible to utilise Schoolbox for virtual learning without using a third party video conferencing application. With Schoolbox, teachers are empowered to record videos of whole lessons, episodes of learning, or very short instructional videos directly to their course, unit, class and group pages. In fact, with a smartphone, it is possible to open the camera app to record and share the video directly in Schoolbox all within the one place. Combine this with the chat, social stream and forum components to have your students asking questions, collaborating and engaging.
Other video conferencing software
Teachers can also share links within Schoolbox for students to access video conferencing such as Google Hangouts. By providing a URL, students and teachers can navigate and enter a remote collaboration space. For schools utilising the G Suite for Education or other similar technologies, a teacher can, with relative ease, schedule or start a live meeting and share the link with students within Schoolbox.
Nothing compares with face-to-face time with students, but by combining broadcasting software with your online learning environment, you can find a solution during challenging times of school shutdown.
Jez Gray specialises in teaching students from Year 7 to Foundation Degrees and is no stranger to school closures, having seen his fair share in England, Hong Kong, Singapore and now Australia. Well aware of the struggles faced by schools in such challenging times, Jez is committed to supporting teachers to maximise the features of their online learning environment and continue to provide quality education to their students.