Classroom broadcasting

Combining online with on-campus learning and teaching

As full lockdown came to an end in Bangladesh, some families still preferred to keep their children at home.  One school wanted to make sure that no students were going to miss out, as the Principal, Dr. Shivandanda CS reports.

An extended lockdown

Lockdown in Bangladesh during the pandemic has been long and hard, beginning in March 2020 and only gradually lifting from September 2021. It has been quite a wait. In line with government guidelines, DPS-STS School  was able to start phasing in the return of our students to on-campus classes on 12th September, after one and half years of online learning.

You can imagine all the preparations, but, quite understandably, in spite of the fact that we were following strict health and safety protocols for returning to face-to-face learning, many parents were wary, for a number of reasons, about sending their children back to school.

Transition period

We were therefore faced with the problem that a number of families who, for the time-being at least, wanted to continue with online learning. The teachers wanted to help by conducting additional online classes after school, but the prospect of conducting a complete set of online classes in parallel with classes taking place at school was unrealistic and would simply be too tiring.

Devising a realistic solution

The teaching staff, school leadership team and the IT support team therefore started to explore the idea of broadcasting live from classrooms on campus to students at home as a possible solution to a serious, but hopefully short-term problem. The school had already been recognised for the quality of its online programme – but could we come up with a high-quality hybrid solution to meet the needs of all our students whether they were in school or online?

Working out a system

The answer was ‘yes we could’. Following discussion and a number of trial runs, we worked out a system that worked well enough to launch and then be developed into something that worked really well. The important thing was that it was inexpensive and depended on resources which for the most part were already in place. Here’s what we came up with.

Implementiung live broadcasting, step by step

 

Step 1

Teachers log in to the appropriate part of Google classroom from three devices (sometimes two are enough): the classroom desktop, their individual school laptop and their smartphone. The desktop computer is connected to the in-class projector which shows the lesson on the main whiteboard.

Step 2

Using the laptop, the teacher can share any resource  which can now be viewed by students in class on the whiteboard and also by those at home online. The laptop camera also captures the teacher’s written work on the whiteboard. Meanwhile, the teacher’s smartphone picks up and transmits what the teacher is saying for the students online (sometimes the laptop can do this).

Step 3

When facilitating discussion, the teacher in the class room makes sure that all students, both in class and online, take part, directing questions in a balanced way.

Step 4

The chat box function was important for interaction during lockdown and has continued to be vital in our new ‘hybrid’ classrooms. Questions asked online in the chat box are monitored by the teacher who can use them to start discussions involving everyone, whether they are in class or online. Students sitting in the classroom get involved in discussion with their friends online through their teacher’s laptop camera and microphone.

Good for teachers, good for students

 

As the system was trialled, we found that we could really make it work. It has removed the burden of teachers having to take additional online classes, class collaboration is taking place in new ways and, most importantly, student engagement has remained high and the impact on learning enhanced.

Live broadcasting of class is a great way to bring our students together on the same platform. All students can participate and be part of the discussion that is going on in the classroom. I am enjoying this new experience!
Shegufta H. Khan, Teacher
Challenges faced and resolved

There have been some problems, however, which we needed to work out:

Echo

When teachers log in to Google Classroom from multiple devices, it causes an echo. Teachers found an easy solution by turning off the desktop and laptop speakers (when not connected to the Bluetooth).

Bandwidth

Internet bandwidth was certainly an issue when we started so many simultaneous live broadcasts. It was not a difficult decision to upgrade our subscription.

Developing discussion

Not surprisingly, it has been a challenge to involve everyone in discussions. A good way forward involves reading out online students’ questions from the chat box, inviting the students on-campus to respond and then moderating the interaction. Teachers also use the laptop camera to capture students’ contribution in class, which paves the way for interaction with students online and gives a feel of the live class.

Continuous refinement

Teachers are always sharing ways of doing things better. Here are some of the most important developments:

  • Installing signal boosters in the school has been a huge help in improving broadcast quality, and is thoroughly recommended
  • Where we have the facility, teachers have used a touch screen laptop as if they were using a normal whiteboard. Notes and ideas are clearly visible to both students online and also to the students in class when it is projected on the whiteboard.
  • Many teachers do not now use their smartphones as they are able to manage all the functions with their laptops when they connect their headphones using Bluetooth. They are also able to pick up student voices in the classroom through their Bluetooth connected microphone which can be easily taken around the classroom.
The live broadcasted classes were held smoothly and were interactive. The comfortable learning environment created by the teachers has helped me improve my technical skills as well as my confidence level.
Tasnim Zarin Chowdhury, Grade 10 student.
Conclusion

Students have missed out on so much this year and we were determined that no individual should suffer further. Thanks to the hard work of our faculty and IT staff this period of transition is going well, to the great benefit of all our students. We are pleased with the results, but can’t wait for everyone to be back on campus!

 

Dr. Shivananda CS is the Principal of DPS-STS school in Dhaka.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-shivananda-c-s-25931630/?originalSubdomain=in

 

 

 

 

 

FURTHER READING

https://en.unesco.org/broadband-commission-sustainable-development

 

FEATURE IMAGE: by tejasp at Pixabay

Support Images with kind permission from DPS-STS Dhaka

 

 

You may also like