Hybrid learning: an opportunity for improved engagement

Although forced to find solutions to enable learning from home during the pandemic, some education providers have found that the right communications platform can create a hybrid learning environment that is actually more engaging for students than traditional teaching methods. One such example is Professor Feltus at Clemson University, USA, who used Toolwire Spaces Learning on the Avaya Spaces platform to deliver his own digital content, converting a traditional face-to-face Bioinformatics course into an engaging, collaborative, digital course that includes hands-on data labs.

“Spaces Learning is like a textbook that I use to deliver the content, which instead of being words on a page, is hands-on experiential courses. It’s a much better experience and I firmly believes using Spaces Learning has made me a better teacher 50 times over,” says Professor Feltus.

Toolwire Spaces Learning is a workstream collaboration platform that combines asynchronous digital learning (allowing students to view coursework at any time) with synchronous video conferencing and collaboration tools (where students are required to login and participate at a specific time) to create a virtual classroom. Using it, Professor Feltus and his students find that they communicate more frequently and effectively. No longer do students sit through lectures where some may get away with hiding in the back and not contributing. Thanks to Spaces Learning, they now engage and interact through discussion boards, logging-in when and where they want to ask a question or answer one. Students have started teaching and helping each other, collaborating, and moving forwards together.

One-on-one mentoring between teacher and student is still important, and thanks to its inbuilt analytics capability, Professor Feltus benefits from actionable insights he can draw from Spaces Learning. Using this, the Professor can see who has not been logging-on very often and might need additional help – something he might have missed in a physical classroom. The platform can also be set up to perform automated ‘nudging’ of students to catch-up with coursework, which gets better results than traditional methods.

“With Spaces Learning, I get fine-grained detail which lets me see how students are doing. Because I can see what is going on, I am better positioned to help and students can share their screens to show me exactly what they are doing,” says Professor Feltus.

Since autumn 2021, students and faculty have been required to physically return to the classroom, but Professor Feltus will never go back to full time face-to-face teaching. His classes will now be a hybrid of Spaces Learning and face-to-face, as for him, using Spaces Learning enables a teaching style like the modern Socratic method. Because students can access and review all the content on the platform whenever they want to, they start thinking and coming up with ideas, which means classes are used to go over those ideas and have the discussion that needs to be had that day instead of dryly going over coursework.

The pandemic taught us many lessons about the everyday activities we took for granted. Education is complex and what works for one group may not work for others. For further information and to request a one-to-one demo click here.

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