Unified communications is typically thought of as an environment used for efficient employee collaboration. Workers can use a variety of communication tools and file sharing capabilities to work on projects anytime, from anywhere. However, unified communications also helps students participate in personalized learning initiatives.
The trend toward personalized learning is gaining momentum. According to KnowledgeWorks, advocates of personalized learning, 39 states include some aspect of personalized learning in their Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plans.
Personalized learning tailors students’ lessons to their intellectual abilities and personal interests. Students work at their own pace and take a deeper dive into subjects of their choosing. Instead of lecturing to a class of 25 or 30 students, the teacher takes a back seat, providing advice or troubleshooting problems when necessary.
Personalized learning often involves technology and has received considerable funding from technology giants such as Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. Unified communications combined with an affordable high-speed network allows students to take advantage of self-directed learning experiences.
Technology makes customizing learning experiences easier and enables parents and teachers to track student progress. Students use laptops or tablets to work on individualized lessons or to conduct independent research projects on the Internet. For example, platforms are available that provide lessons in coding and video production, as well as more traditional subjects such as math and reading.
Teachers can gather and analyze data to understand how students are learning and progressing along their chosen path. Software has been designed that develops a new learning plan based on a student’s performance on previous exercises. Teachers use applications to view student screens, communicate with parents, and monitor student behavior.
Students don’t always work by themselves when participating in personalized learning. Small groups of students may work together on projects. Unified communications makes collaborating on these projects easier. Students can share files so they know what stage of development the project is in and don’t duplicate work.
With unified communications, group members can communicate using instant messaging, email, and even web conferencing, just like employees at a corporation. This way, students can work together even while at home.
For personalized learning technology to work, a school needs a powerful network and unified communications capabilities. If students are all working on separate laptops and mobile devices, the school needs to have adequate bandwidth to support them. Teachers want to prevent buffering from wasting valuable classroom time.
Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) provides the foundation for unified communications. By switching from a traditional phone system to VoIP, a school can access unified communications tools, including instant messaging, email, file sharing, and web conferencing, for better collaboration between students. Teachers can also communicate more freely with students and parents.
Personalized learning may be the future of K through 12 education. More and more schools are moving toward a personalized or blended model of education to accommodate students’ personal interests and learning styles. If schools want to take advantage of the technology that helps facilitate personalized learning, they need to find affordable ways to increase their connectivity and access to unified communications.
FirstLight is dedicated to providing affordable high-speed networks for schools. We are experienced in creating telecommunications solutions for K through 12 and libraries. We also supply affordable high-bandwidth Internet solutions for schools through the E-Rate program. The New England Secondary School Consortium chose 20 schools to participate in personalized learning initiatives, making connectivity for schools in the region more important than ever.
Is your school being held back from instructional innovation? Learn how to increase your connectivity from the experts at FirstLight.