Now that the Coronavirus, COVID-19, is a global reality, educational institutions around the world are rapidly developing contingency plans to serve quarantined students and prepare for the possibility of full campus closures. While the safety of students and faculty is paramount, the unknown severity and duration of the outbreak means that institutions must be ready for a broad range of operational scenarios.
Echo360 can play a valuable role in your contingency plan by supporting both synchronous and asynchronous online learning, coupled with student engagement capabilities that can make remote delivery as effective as face-to-face learning. We are providing this information to assure you that Echo360 is ready to support your academic continuity needs, both technologically and organizationally.
How You Can Use Echo360 to Rapidly Enable Remote Course Delivery
Echo360 supports several online learning methods including remote video learning with active engagement and video embedded into the LMS/VLE for online courses. Students can take notes, ask and respond to questions, answer polls, and indicate confusion when reviewing videos or participating in live classes remotely. With this type of engagement, research shows that students can learn just as well remotely as they do in class, so we believe that Echo360 is an indispensable component of your contingency plans.
Here are five things you can do to be ready to teach remote students using Echo360:
1 Re-Use Recordings from Previous Courses
Many instructors teach similar courses across multiple academic terms and have saved recordings from previous course instances. Since these videos are likely still available in your Echo360 library, all you need to do is publish them to your current course and you and your students can engage in active discussion linked to each video. You can also upload your presentation and build new polls to increase the level of online interaction and student feedback. Students can use confusion indicators during playback to alert you to topics that may need supplemental materials. This flipped classroom approach to teaching with video is supported by a wide array of academic research already.
2 Create Discrete Video Learning Objects
While repurposing previous class videos can get you started, the best practice for remote delivery is to break instruction down into shorter videos that cover a single topic or related set of topics. With Echo360, you can easily edit your previous videos by trimming them down to single topics and then saving them as new videos. Even better, you can also use Echo360’s Universal Capture tool to create presentations on individual topics with voice-over instruction. Universal Capture makes it easy to capture your screen, and even any connected camera, to produce effective videos from wherever you are.
You can publish each individual video as a class in your Echo360 course, as well as group and order them so your students can proceed through topics in your intended order. Read how Dr. Claire Stuve at the University of Toledo uses short video learning objects to dramatically lower failure rates for online students.
3 Live Stream Your Classes
In the event of a campus closure or if you just need to reach students who can’t come to campus, you can live stream your class. By streaming your classes with Echo360, students can participate fully in live classes, even ask questions and answer polls. The new live attendance feature will let you know who is participating remotely and remote student engagement will show up in your instructor analytics, just as it does for students who attend in person.
You can live stream using Universal Capture Classroom running on any Mac or PC computer, as well as Echo360’s Pro and Pod capture appliances. If you would like to live stream your course, simply ask your Echo360 administrator to update your capture schedule to include live streaming. Note: at the time of writing, live streaming for Universal Capture Personal is currently in development and expected to be released in April 2020.
In the event of a full campus closure, keep in mind that live streaming alone might not be your best option as students return home to many different time zones and may not have stable internet access. In such cases, providing both live streaming and on-demand playback options may be more beneficial for your students. Read how Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine uses Echo 360 for blended learning.
4 Build Out Your LMS/VLE Course for Online Learning
These days, nearly every course has an LMS/VLE shell associated with it, and most users access Echo360 via their LMS/VLE. Typically, instructors do not invest the time and effort to build out video-based learning modules in their LMS/VLE for face-to-face courses as they do when developing an online course. Using video to build out your LMS/VLE course for remote delivery is one way to simplify the process and make your course more effective at the same time. With Echo360’s LMS/VLE integrations you can:
- Embed video content anywhere in your course materials.
- Create video announcements to make remote students feel more connected.
- Create secure video assignments and give video feedback on student assignments.
Video is one of the most effective modes of online learning and using your video content is one of the easiest ways to turn your face-to-face class into a fully online class. Learn how Kate Bradford from Indian River State College uses Echo360 video to foster deeper connections with online students.
5 Use Engagement Analytics to Identify Struggling Students
Echo360’s engagement score is a key indicator of student success and monitoring engagement for remote learners is critical. While the engagement tab in the Echo360 Instructor Dashboard will identify students who are most at risk, you can sort your entire student list by least-engaged to most-engaged on the students tab for a more holistic view.
Numerous faculty and researchers have found that the Echo360 engagement score is directly correlated with grades in the class, but you can monitor engagement before the first graded assignment or test to identify students in need and be proactive before they have a chance to fail. If you haven’t used the engagement score in Echo360 before, it will be helpful to start by setting your weighting to “Remote Learning” on the Weighting tab.
You can read more about how to use the engagement score in the Echo360 documentation.
How Echo360 Can Enhance Your Use of Zoom Video Conferencing
There are teaching scenarios, such as labs or group work, where a video conference may be more appropriate than live streaming or recording a class. If you are using Zoom, you can have your web recordings automatically pushed to Echo360 for greater academic impact. You can edit your meeting recordings and use Echo360’s engagement tools to link a class discussion to the video. Zoom also has limited storage for archived recordings, so it makes sense to have them stored in your Echo360 library. Echo360 administrators can enable Zoom integration, if it isn’t already enabled, and your recordings will automatically be uploaded to the Echo360 library for each user.
Echo360 Will Scale to Meet Dramatically Increased Usage
With the global nature of the current outbreak, many clients are asking if the Echo360 platform will be able to handle the dramatically increased load needed to reach students in quarantined areas and a move to full online delivery in the event of campus closures. Since this situation has been a reality in our Asia-Pacific region for some time now, we have already shown that we can scale without any problems.
The Echo360 platform was built from the beginning to be a multi-tenant application and our systems are designed to automatically scale as demand increases. We regularly leverage our automation to scale discrete, independent services up and down throughout the day to respond appropriately to changes in traffic and resource demands. Constant testing of our auto-scaling capabilities ensures that when we do see a large increase in demand, we can manage it. If customers schedule live events, Echo360 will provision sufficient capacity in advance of these scheduled events to ensure that capacity can meet demand.
Echo360’s strategic relationship with AWS provides us access to AWS Enterprise Support, a team of expert support and technical resources directly available to our organization. This team is helping us review our current provisioning limits and expedite any changes. They will also monitor our scaling events internally and if any issues do arise, we can work together immediately to resolve them before they affect end users.
You Can Add More Capture and Streaming Venues, if needed
The easiest way to add more capture and streaming capacity at your institution is via Echo360 Universal Capture software. It runs identically on Mac or Windows computers and can capture two streams of full HD video with audio. Your Echo360 license provides for unlimited installations of Universal Capture for faculty, students and administrators. If you have classroom computers available, all you need to do is download, install, and configure it to increase your capture and streaming capacity. You can learn more about configuring Universal Capture in the documentation.
If you prefer hardware capture, Echo360 can work with you to expand your installation of Pro and Pod devices as needed. Please contact your Echo360 representative to discuss.
Other Resources Are Available from Echo360 to Support Contingency Planning
The entire Echo360 organization is prepared to support the needs of our clients in an emergency situation and we have been working closely with our clients who are already affected by the current outbreak. If you need any type of support for contingency planning, please contact your Echo360 representative or Support team. As always, Echo360 is fully committed to helping our college and university clients deliver the highest quality instruction to maximize student success.