Building on our successes and lessons learned last spring, we developed an inclusive, accessible learning environment for our coming academic year and those thereafter. In short, any Springs student will be able to be present in our class meetings either in person or virtually, and if virtual, will be able to interact with teachers and classmates in a seamless way.
Hybrid Flexible (HyFlex) learning is a distance learning strategy that allows the students in a given class to transition between in-person and online learning at-will and with the same learning outcomes. First described in 2005 by Brian Beatty at San Francisco State University, it was borne out of a desire to bring an academic program online with institutional parameters that would not allow such a change. Unbeknownst to Beatty at the time, it could serve as the foundation for an effective means to maintain a course's structure.
In all of our classroom spaces this fall, we will have 360-degree cameras installed to support the immersive experience that students appreciate from face-to-face instruction. The Kandao Meeting devices have two 180 degree lenses arranged opposite to one another on the cylindrical device along with eight omnidirectional microphones. The camera "glues" the two 180-degree video feeds to create a single 360-degree panoramic video feed. Additionally, four separate, simultaneous feeds are provided by the camera for a more up-close perspective.
Pressure to attend class with "a case of the sniffles" is one we wish to ameliorate. With these devices, a student can opt to attend class from their home and in the process, help control the spread of disease. The fear of missing the experiences and content of those in class does not become a consideration. To further help those students attending class remotely we have acquired and are installing new interactive whiteboards in all of our classrooms.
The ViewSonic ViewBoards being installed across campus have Zoom conferencing natively built into the device and a piece of software called myViewBoard will serve as the whiteboarding environment. This digital whiteboard will be transmitted through Zoom and the contents of the whiteboard can be saved as a PDF document at the end of class. In addition, the Zoom sessions will be recorded for those individuals where their circumstances preclude either in-person or online attendance. The Kandao Meetings will be powered by these new whiteboards and the video feeds provided to the Zoom session on the ViewBoards will be that of the Kandao Meeting.
With these additions to our classrooms, we will be able to support our strong academic and community-based culture with the well-being of our students and faculty in mind.