According to Pew Research, 34 percent of Black Americans don’t have high-speed internet and 42 percent don’t have personal computers. This obviously makes it very difficult for students and faculty at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to be successful as they transition to remote learning. In addition, many HBCUs are experiencing a decrease in enrollment and lack of funding, and the onset and pervasiveness of COVID-19 only serves to exacerbate these problems. [ Read More ]
Discover the best practices implemented by St. Michael’s College School that ensured continuity of education and kept students engaged and on track to finish the 2020-21 school year exactly where they would without a pandemic. READ MORE
Interview with USDLA Board Member and CEO of Oiada International, Eric Jones
Eric Jones has been opening doors to global education for many years, providing award winning educational programs via videoconferencing to over 450,000 students in 50 US states and 32 countries.
As part of Black History Month, Oiada International is offering two live virtual tours. “Slave Dungeon” and “Eye Opener” tours are led by tour guides in Ghana. Tours are available through February 23, 2021.
- Founded in 1987 as the first nonprofit distance learning association in the United States to support distance learning research, development and praxis
- 5,000 members, state chapters, global partners
- Global Partners –
- European Distance and Elearning Network (EDEN), Brazilian Association for Distance Education (ABED), International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE)…And more
Distance learning includes e-learning, texting, social networking, virtual worlds, game-based learning, webinars. It’s the Internet. It’s Google. It’s broadband and satellite and cable and wireless. Corporate universities. Virtual universities. Blended learning, mobile learning. It’s using our phones and computers and whatever technology comes next, in new ways.
- Launched Resource Page
- First Virtual Town Hall for Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs)
- Webinars each Friday on a range of topics
- Publication outreach – USA Today, USNEWS & World Report, TEDx, our own publication
- Our own Virtual Conference
- National Distance Learning Week – November
- International Forum for Women in E-Learning (IFWE)
ACCREDIDATION / CERTIFICTION
- Accreditation is meant to protect students, schools, and employers.”
- If a college/university is accredited by one of the following regional accrediting agencies, a prospective student can be assured that the institution is eligible for federal student loans and that credits are transferable among institutions.
- USDLA Quality Standards Certification
- USDLA certifies institutions and educational providers who meet its Quality Standards for distance learning. The approximately 91 standards highlight best practices at all levels of education and training and are adaptable to a variety of needs and situations.
- # 1 Safety of students, faculty and staff
- Price point for an education
- Open Education Resources (OERs) – Merlot / Skillscommon – Dr. Hanley
- Example Affordable Learning Solutions (AL$) initiatives with Dr. Melton and Dr. McSwain
- locate free quality online learning materials
- lower the cost of attending college
- improve the learning experience by offering rich educational materials at the point of need
- Blended learning going forward to offer the best of face-to-face and virtual
- Cyber Security
- Assessment / Outcomes
- State Reciprocity – NC-SARA
Raise your hand if a year ago you thought you’d be in the situation you are today. Many people (including me way back in 2014) warned businesses that a pandemic may be coming and that they had better get their remote collaboration operations ready, but no one really imagined the extent – and length – of the COVID19 situation we’re currently living through.
Those of us that have been involved in Distance Education for years understood what the medium required. When educational institutions – Higher Education and K-12s – were hit with this unexpected situation in April however, many were not prepared to change-over from their standard educational model to complete distance learning and remote classes. Some educators took time over the summer to prepare but most just hoped that we’d be done with the worst of it by the start of the fall semester. Sadly, we know that didn’t turn out to be the case.
When we suddenly asked classroom teachers to sit still, directly in front of a device embedded webcam, and successfully conduct a class just like they had in a classroom, it didn’t work out very well. Teachers were frustrated by the constraints, students were bored by the material, and the experience had mostly negative reviews.
School administrators and CIOs faced a difficult problem – how can they spend as little money as possible to produce a better experience by utilizing a plan and strategy that would also be effective for the long haul?
When funding is not an object, institutions dipping their toes into distance learning turned to integrated studio classrooms – with multiple cameras, electronic whiteboards, and complex audio and lighting systems. However, funding is usually the number-one issue for educators nowadays.
The team at Poly is proud to say they have helped and continue to help educators with all of these problems.
Poly offers a wide array of free grant services. Our PGAP team connects educators to resources specifically to meet the needs of their institution or school. Our network of experts are here to help you through the grant process—from grant identification and application to post-award administrative support.
On the technology side as well, Poly has many great systems available to help educators equip themselves to produce awesome and engaging content as easily as…well…teaching.
Take a look below at the video of the Poly Studio USB system in action while set-up in a regular classroom (click the photo to watch the video.)
All of that expert camera work is actually done automatically in the Poly device, set on a student desk just as if it were a student in the classroom. The instructor doesn’t need to wear a lanyard or operate anything – it just works, they can just teach. Also, with this system, there is no distracting groan of motors as the camera moves around to capture the action. It uses an electronic pan-tilt-zoom system (EPTZ) that works silently and invisibly.
Are you concerned that in today’s reality the instructor may be wearing a mask to prevent the spread of the virus, and the camera might not see his or her face clearly enough? That’s actually no problem for the Poly Studio, as you can see in the masked version of the video above by clicking here. It is one of the only cameras on the market today that doesn’t need to see the full face to track the instructor. In addition, because the intelligence is in the device, and not running software in an attached computer, it is smooth and rapid with its camera moves.
So, after all that, you may be curious if this a complicated system to install. Absolutely not. Here’s a video posted by The Boston Public Schools showing how they set it up. It essentially involves unpacking it, plugging in a couple of wires, connecting it to a computer, setting your preferences, and putting it down on a desk or table.
Of course, Poly has other systems as well to help distance learning become a success regardless of how simple or complex your IT team or administrators want them to be – with all of them remotely manageable by your support professionals.
Many other school systems have used and continue to use what were previously called Plantronics and Polycom – and are now Poly – technologies to support their efforts. Here’s another case study from a school system in Pennsylvania that highlights multiple Poly systems that put them ahead of the curve as the pandemic struck.
All of the Poly solutions for educators are available now, flexible enough to be used in ever-changing situations and will remain a meaningful investment long past the end of the current pandemic.
We’re unfortunately not done with this horrific pandemic, and may not be for some time, so if the Poly team can help you with any of the services I mentioned here, we’d love to chat with you and give you a hand in any way we can. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.
This article was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions. David has over four decades of experience providing problem solving leadership and innovation in media and unified communications technologies for various firms in the corporate, broadcasting and academic worlds including AT&T, Bloomberg LP, FNN, Morgan Stanley, NYU, Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan Chase. He now works as The Director of UC Strategy and Research for Poly. He is also the IMCCA’s Director of Emerging Technology. David can be reached at David.firstname.lastname@example.org and his full bio and other blogs and articles can be seen at Danto.info.