Interactive Video Platforms Are The Future Of Online Learning
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Interactive Video Platforms: Increasing Learners’ Engagement And Retention  

Despite the leaps in technology that surround us, online learning is still not the success story that it should be. The old-school approach continues to produce better results. A paper –recently presented at the annual American Educational Research Association conference– adds to the evidence that online courses aren’t measuring up to the real thing. Researchers found that traditional California community college students were 11 percent more likely to complete (and pass) the same class as their online learning peers. These findings mirror those of earlier studies on the subject of online learning success. There’s a disconnect between what happens in a physical classroom and what happens when students take a class online. The experience goes from interactive to static. But with today’s technology, there is no reason online learning can’t be revamped to compete with its traditional counterpart. Interactive video platforms can indeed enhance students’ experiences and increase engagement and retention.

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The Trouble With Online Learning

Classrooms are more than physical spaces; they’re social constructs for enabling collective learning. That social layer is crucial to education because genuine learning hinges on interactions between teachers and students and among the students themselves.

In traditional education settings, teachers can gauge whether students are engaged by observing their facial expressions, body language, and behaviors, and can modify their lessons based on this nonverbal feedback. Students can ask questions and spark discussions with one another about the topics being taught.

The rise of online learning has made education accessible to a wider range of people, but it’s also diluted the interactive component. Oftentimes, instructors will simply post video lectures online. The students can take in the information, but they can’t ask questions. They don’t interact with the teacher or one another.

Some schools try to remedy this problem by encouraging teachers and students to discuss lecture materials in course-specific online forums. But these quickly become virtual dumping grounds for opinions rather than spaces for reacting and responding to the ideas of others in real time.

Human beings rely on social cohesion to overcome difficulties. We measure our performances against those of our peers, and a sense of pride in our work motivates us to excel. When we’re isolated from one another behind one-way screencasts, we lose those important aspects of education. Ambition, goal-setting, and accountability are inherently social learning factors. But they get lost when you remove interactivity from the equation.

Take The Static Out Of Video

Interactive -rather than static- video platforms present teachers with a chance to increase engagement in online courses. Classes conducted on interactive video platforms would follow a format similar to that found in a traditional classroom. The events would take place live on a fixed schedule. With interactivity, not only can teachers lecture, take live questions, and respond, but the students can also see and interact with one another — just as they would if they were all in the same physical classroom.

Conversations would happen in real time, and teachers could see whether students were alert and interested or bored and disengaged. The ability to respond to students’ feedback is vital to successful teaching.

Nathan Faries, a lecturer at Bates College, conducted courses on an interactive video platform while he had to be away from campus. In an article about the experience, Faries wrote that he prefers to be in the classroom physically but that interactive video worked well for him and his students. He was able to talk with the class, answer questions, invite students to help him set up the technology, and “call on students who looked sleepy”. Faries reported positive feedback from his students, likely because they felt like he was still available to them and invested in the course.

The Age Of Interactive

Educational institutions at all levels -from elementary schools to universities- are often criticized for being behind the times when it comes to technology. Even the youngest students are now tech-savvy. To effectively teach, educators must embrace popular technology to make online learning live up to the hype.

Interactive video platforms are a powerful tool, and it’s only going to become a more robust platform. Instead of forcing students to disengage when they take classes online, teachers should use the technology that is now available to bring face-to-face interactions to the online learning experience. Perhaps Benjamin Franklin said it best: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

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