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Educators Worry About ‘Zoom Fatigue’ In Students, Recommend Innovative Teaching Techniques

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March 24, 2021 – Educators must come up with ways to enhance the online learning experience or students will end up suffering from “Zoom fatigue” and falling behind, the Broadband Breakfast live event heard Wednesday.

David Weinberger, senior researcher at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, said students suffer from staring at a screen all day – “Zoom fatigue” — and need to be stimulated with higher-quality education. He said he hopes and expects distanced learning technology will improve the digital experience, which is an endeavor that requires more resources.

And students want high-quality remote learning, said panelist Charles Severance, clinical professor of information at the University of Michigan School of Information. That means that if demand is not met by educational institutions, then virtual learning may not be here to stay – potentially hobbling the system once again in the event the nation would need to reinstitute at-home learning.

But lawmakers and parents are seemingly waiting for the opportunity to have students return to in-person classes, a call that assumes students are better educated in the physical setting.

Educators on the ground, however, know that some students do better with – and in fact prefer – virtual learning than they do with in-person learning. In an interview with Broadband Breakfast on Monday, William Jeffery, the assistant principal at Columbia High School in the Columbia-Brazoria Independent School District in Texas, said students should therefore have a choice between virtual and in-person learning.

That hybrid model was also recommended on Wednesday’s live event.

Lori Williams, president and CEO of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, said different populations have different needs, and said many large institutions will continue instructing online, while others may stick with hybrid models, and some will try to go back to the traditional in-person method of teaching.

Regardless of what the institution chooses, she said students should be able to choose their own experience. The decision is no easier to make on a higher-ed level than it is for K-12 public schools.

Severance said that over just one weekend, the University of Michigan went from having about less than 1 percent of its credit offerings being online to the entire school’s offerings moving online, as it made the decision to shut down last March of 2020.

He said the school has historically been opposed to online education, and that though many of its faculty struggled with being forced to go digital, Severance saw it as a seriously challenging, yet huge opportunity to adapt and still give a quality educational experience.

But that shift requires money. As the country has dramatically shifted its education systems to virtual learning platforms, money and resources are needed to support the unforeseen demand. That’s why some say programs like the $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit program funded by Congress in December 2020 will see strong demand and will likely see all its funds spent.

Author and e-learning professional Badrul Khan, who was a panelist in the event, said education should be cost-effective and accessible, wherever it is happening.

Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place every Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. You can watch the March 24, 2021, event on this page. You can also PARTICIPATE in the current Broadband Breakfast Live Online event. REGISTER HERE.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021, 12 Noon ET — “The State of Online Higher Education”

  • It was one year ago this month that our nation shut down because of the coronavirus. Broadband Breakfast Live Online launched on March 13, 2020, as a way to connect people about the solutions that broadband could provide to the trials raised by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our first episode was on “Broadband, the Coronavirus and Education,” and in this session, we’ll check in with experts on the state of online higher education – one year in.

Panelists:

  • Dr. Badrul Khan, Author and E-Learning & Instructional Design Professional
  • Dr. Charles Severance, Clinical Professor of Information, University of Michigan School of Information
  • Dr. Lori Williams, President and CEO of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA)
  • Dr. David Weinberger, Writer and Affiliate of Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Dr. Badrul Khan coined the phrase Web-based instruction with his 1997 best-selling Web-Based Instruction book which paved the way for the new field of e-learning, Recognized as the founder of modern e-learning by 2014 NATO e-Learning Forum, he was inducted into the United States Distance Learning Association Hall of Fame. He has authored or contributed to fifteen books and over 100 manuscripts in e-learning, his Managing E-learning book has been translated into 23 languages including Bangla. He is the host of KDW TV show on FOX 5 PLUS Washington, DC. and is the founder of GyanBahan.com, a micro-learning based Knowledge Carrier Platform.

Dr. Charles Severance is a Clinical Professor and teaches in the School of Information at the University of Michigan. He teaches over popular Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) including Python for Everybody – the most popular online programming course in the world on the Coursera, edX, and FutureLearn platforms. He is also a long-time advocate of open source educational technology and open educational resources to empower teachers. Previously he was the Executive Director of the Sakai Foundation and the Chief Architect of the Sakai Project. Dr. Severance has written several books including “Using the Google App Engine”, “Python for Informatics”, “High Performance Computing”, and “Sakai: Free as in Freedom”.

Dr. Lori Williams is president and CEO of NC-SARA and has over 25 years’ experience in education. Prior to this role, she served as vice president at the WASC Senior College and University Commission. Dr. Williams has spoken at national and international conferences about adult and online learning, and served as professor, thesis advisor, and mentor. She holds a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Education Leadership from Union Institute & University, an M.A. in Applied Linguistics and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Saint Michael’s College, and a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University.

Dr. David Weinberger writes about the effect of technology  — particularly the Internet and machine learning  — on our ideas and lives. Most recently he was a writer-in-residence at Google AI, and before that he co-directed Harvard’s Library Innovation lab. Dr. Weinberger has long been affiliated with Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center and has been a philosophy professor, a Franklin Fellow at the US State Department and a book editor. He holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Toronto.

Panelist Resources

WATCH HERE, or on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook.

As with all Broadband Breakfast Live Online events, the FREE webcasts will take place at 12 Noon ET on Wednesday.

SUBSCRIBE to the Broadband Breakfast YouTube channel. That way, you will be notified when events go live. Watch on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

See a complete list of upcoming and past Broadband Breakfast Live Online events.

Education

Metaverse Can Serve as a Supplement, Not Replacement, For Educators: Experts

The virtual world where avatars can meet as if they were in real life can be a companion for education.

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Screenshot of the Brookings event Tuesday

WASHINGTON, June 29, 2022 – Experts said at a Brookings Institution event said Tuesday that while the “metaverse” can go a long way toward improving education for some students, it should serve as a supplement to those educational goals.

The metaverse refers to a platform of 3D virtual worlds where avatars, or virtual characters, meet as if they were in the real world. The concept has been toyed with by Facebook parent Meta and is being used as a test for the educational space.

“The metaverse is a world that is accessible to students and teachers across the globe that allows shared interactions without boundaries in a respectful optimistic way,” Simran Mulchandani, founder of education app Project Rangeet, said at Tuesday’s event.

Panelists stated that as the metaverse and education meet, researchers, educators, policymakers and digital designers should take the lead, so tech platforms do not dictate educational opportunities.

“We have to build classrooms first, not tech first,” said Mulchandani.

Rebecca Kantar, the head of education at Roblox – a video game platform that allows players to program games – added that as the metaverse is still emerging and being constructed, “we can be humble in our attempt to find the highest and best way to bring the metaverse” into the classroom for the best education for the future.

Anant Agarwal, a professor at MIT and chief open education officer for online learning platform edX, stated the technology of the metaverse has the potential to make “quality and deep education accessible to everybody everywhere.”

Not a replacement for real social experiences

Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, senior fellow of the global economy and development at the Center for Universal Education, said that while the metaverse brings potential to improve learning, it is not a complete replacement for the social experience a student has in the classroom.

“The metaverse can’t substitute for social interaction. It can supplement.”

Mulchandani noted the technology of the metaverse cannot replace the teacher, but rather can serve to solve challenges in the classroom.

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Education

Fiber Broadband Companies and Consultants Tout Their Work for Social Good

Fiber providers, equipment companies and consultants discussed their work in communities in a session at Fiber Connect

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Photo of Ritchie Sorrells of GVTC Communications, Hu Meena of C Spire, Ji Soo Song of Education Department's Office of Educational Technology and Keven Morgan of Clearfield by Drew Clark (left to right).

June 16, 2022 – Leading fiber broadband platforms are hoping to positively impact future generations beyond fiber deployment through education programs for youth, scholarship awards, and traditional community service events, said panelists at Fiber Connect event Tuesday.

The panel discussion, according to promotional material for the panel in advance of the session at the conference, “represented a new level of commitment based on the belief that operators have a responsibility to make the communities they serve even better.” The showcase panel was a way for the Fiber Broadband Association to highlight the work of providers, equipment vendors, consultants and government officials.

Companies are particularly focused on how to influence following generations for good. C-Spire is working with schools in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education, and it provides programs for youth to learn coding and participate in coding challenges hosted by C-Spire.

Working with the state of Mississippi, fiber provider C-Spire made computer science education available to all K-12 students in the state and donated $1 million for teacher training. C-Spire also provided more than $3 million in scholarships for higher education.

GVTC Communications, a consultant to the telecom industry, works with local nonprofits, churches, schools, and businesses to donate full thanksgiving meals to families in need every year since 2012.

Listening to the needs of the community is essential to make an impact, agreed the panel. “When you have listening as your core value, you find out things that you can really make a difference in,” said Kevin Morgan, chief marketing officer at Clearfield, a provider of equipment for fiber builds.

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Education

Education Executives Tout Artificial Intelligence Benefits for Classroom Learning

Artificial intelligence can help fill in gaps when teacher resources are limited, an event heard.

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Screenshot of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation event

WASHINGTON, May 25, 2022 – Artificial intelligence can help fill in gaps when teacher resources are limited and provide extra help for students who need individualized teaching, experts said at an event hosted by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation on Tuesday.

As policy makers weigh the options for a structure for AI in the classroom, panelists agreed on its benefits for both teachers and students. Michelle Zhou, CEO of AI company Juji Inc., said AI technology in the classroom can be tools and applications like chatbots for real-time questions during class, and post-class questions at home for when the teacher is not available.

Lynda Martin, director of learning strategy for strategic solutions at learning company McGraw Hill, said AI provides the extra help students need, but sometimes are too shy to ask.

When a teacher has a high volume of students, it is difficult to effectively help and connect with each student individually, Martin said. AI gives the teacher crucial information to get to know the student on a more personal level as it transmits the student’s misconceptions and detects areas of need. AI can bring student concerns to the teacher and foster “individualized attention” she added.

Privacy and security concerns

Jeremy Roschelle from Digital Promise, an education non-profit, raise the privacy and security concerns in his cautious support of the idea. He noted that there needs to be more information about who has access to the data and what kinds of data should be used.

Beside bias and ethical issues that AI could pose, Roschelle cautioned about the potential harms AI could present, including misdetecting a child’s behavior, resulting in potential educational setbacks.

To utilize the technology and ensure education outcomes, Sharad Sundararajan, co-founder of learning company Merlyn Minds, touched on the need for AI training. As Merlyn Minds provides digital assistant technology to educators, he noted the company’s focus on training teachers and students on various forms of AI tech to enhance user experience.

There is an “appetite” from schools that are calling for this, said Sundararajan. As policy makers contemplate a strategic vision for AI in the classroom, he added that AI adoption in the classroom around the country will require algorithmic work, company partnerships, and government efforts for the best AI success.

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