In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, just about every sector of society has undergone profound changes. The shift has been especially significant for students and teachers. Less than a year ago, only 38% of teachers said they used a blended or hybrid course format for teaching. In the blink of an eye in March 2020, universities and community colleges scrambled to transition to an almost 100% remote learning setup. Educators saw the adoption of video tools like Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams skyrocket as a result — initially as an interim measure until the spread of the virus slowed and schools reopened.
The realization now, of course, is that the pandemic has accelerated a dramatic shift toward remote learning. I've spent a lot of time exploring the benefits of tools like videoconferencing software as I've worked on new features to add to the remote learning experience. Understanding the many components in use and those in development can help students and instructors make the best of this new frontier in learning.
Remote learning has undoubtedly created a new frontier for educators. Lecturers have had to fundamentally reexamine how their students learn. This is no light undertaking. The classroom structure of teaching has changed relatively little since the first American schools opened in the 17th century. Technology has facilitated a reinvention of nearly every industry except for education. Universities and community colleges now need to embrace technology at a rate never seen before. We have virtual meeting software, recording features and even after-the-fact transcribing capabilities, but what does real-time transcribing and note taking look like for the virtual classroom?
When you are conducting remote learning over a Zoom or Teams video call, there is parity. Everyone has the same perspective looking at the same screen. It also feels like the teacher is talking to you directly rather than to the whole room. One of the challenges that comes with remote learning through videoconferencing software is the balance of taking notes and engaging with the lecture on the screen — both central pillars of the learning experience. Technology that transcribes lectures in real time and allows for highlighting of notes during the virtual lecture creates a hybrid learning environment. Students can focus on reading the transcript in real time or focus on the lecture and refer to the transcription later.