Most students like going to school because of their friends. If that’s not obvious from personal experience, a 2020 survey of New York City students revealed that over half of them would prefer a return to classrooms.
Many of the students—who already spent a third of the 2019-20 school year in remote classes—are hoping for hybrid learning as a compromise. They want digital class options and flexible schedules, on and off campus, to accommodate after-school activities, jobs, and working parents.
Even at younger ages, students can identify the kind of future they need. By the time they’re in college, independent lives are in full swing, with career and family roles competing with class time.
Covid-19 adds urgency to the matter. With physical safety paramount, remote learning via video platforms is part of the new normal.
Video conferencing has been great for lesson continuity, but it falls short on engagement. The experiential elements that let lessons sink in for later use are gone, but, for many, the thinking is that a one-way lesson remains better than closed classrooms.
The missing ingredient is multilateral engagement. In class, professors can field multiple questions at once. Students can form breakout sessions. Presentation materials are visible at the same time as student or professor speech and gestures.
So video conferencing or other online classes are a solution for accessibility to the bare information, but it’s not quite enough for the longer term.
As digital classes continue, a greater need arises for the engagement levels of the classroom or campus. Multilateral engagement is how deep learning and integrated understanding for the future occur.
Think of it in real-world terms. Getting into the best colleges or landing fulfilling jobs happen as part of a network of relationships and events. So should education.
A more realistic classroom experience is possible with virtual-world platforms like VirBELA. In keeping with the opinions of New York’s public school students, 60% of survey respondents reported feeling more engaged with their professor using VirBELA over Zoom. That’s because digital and virtual-world components can create a hybrid educational system to engage nearly everyone.