In a crisis like COVID-19, technology is playing a very crucial role for a few sectors in India. In today’s challenging times, students and teachers are adopting the e-learning environment and they are managing to continue learning. Due to extended lockdown, technology players are making all their efforts to help the education sector by offering cutting edge solutions to educational intuitions. ViewSonic, India’s one of the leading technology brands, is also offering its virtual classroom solution ‘myViewBoard’ to support the education ecosystem. Rajeev Ranjan, editor, and publisher, Digital Terminal, had an insightful conversation recently with Muneer Ahmad, Business Head of ViewSonic India. Mr. Muneer shared his thoughts about the e-learning education landscape in India, the latest solutions, and major challenges for this industry.
Rajeev: How do you see the evolving need of virtual classrooms in the digitally transforming world of today?
Muneer: Everything in our daily lives is transforming digitally, in today’s world there is nothing you can’t do with technology. Currently while we are amid a pandemic crisis, student’s education can be maintained even with the educational institutes closed for operations through virtual classes. In such times, a virtual classroom is an ideal way to build and maintain a real connection in real-time from anywhere around the world. The educational material and information can be reached out to a larger group of students without being tampered with. The curriculum and lessons can be saved digitally and are ready to use as and when required, with the ease of location flexibility and no time constraint. It is in times like these we realise the importance and need of digitisation of education. A virtual classroom can aid the education system in times of crisis and otherwise. Entire data and lessons are stored on cloud for the students to access anytime they want which can avoid any kind on miscommunication.
Rajeev: How is your distance learning technology solutions helping the education fraternity in this pandemic?
Muneer: The government announced a nationwide lockdown to avoid the spread of Covid19, this definitely was a necessary step taken by the authorities. However, there are consequences to this decision, school and universities are shut, which means no lectures/ classes for the students or the teachers. Since the situation is extremely uncertain there is no way of knowing how long this is going to last.
Teachers can utilize myViewBoard software to broadcast video lectures by live streaming through Facebook and YouTube without the need of installing another streaming software. We chose these two platform mainly because almost every student is familiar with the user interface of it. Teachers can also interact with students via live chat feature available on these platforms. These live sessions can also be recorded and saved on cloud for any student to review it later who may have missed out on the session.
In order to explain each subject thoroughly, there are educational tools available such as geometry instruments, periodic table, charts etc., which can be used to describe the topics virtually.
Rajeev: Please brief us about myViewBoard distance learning solution.
Muneer: myViewBoard enables teachers to conduct distance learning, it allows real-time collaboration through video audio conferencing, huddles and digital whiteboarding. ViewSonic’s myViewBoard provides multiple users a wide array of annotating pens, painting tools, sticky notes, and media file types on unlimited pages to enable engaging content creation. It acts like a digital white board, where the instructor can explain and provide annotations on the study material. A few main features of myViewBoard are:
- The teachers can live stream the sessions via Facebook or YouTube groups, there is no need for the students to install any other streaming software in order to join the session.
- Since Facebook and YouTube have real time chat option, students and teachers can indulge in an open discussion.
- The students can share content (Images, Videos & PDF) via ‘Throw feature’ in the myViewBoard Companion app or by logging-in to myViewBoard web onto the common canvas for everyone to see and discuss.
- While streaming, the session can also be recorded for reviewing or circulating amongst the students for later use.
- Through myViewBoard software, educators can also import Google Slides, Docs, etc. for the students to refer and study from.
Rajeev: Which are the major challenges faced by the teachers and learners? How does myViewBoard help them to eliminate all such barriers?
Muneer: Like most technological creations have some pros and cons attached to them, so do virtual classes. Other than the ease of access and distance learning there are some challenges that are faced in a virtual classroom environment:
- Since the teachers and students are not present physically in one area, it is quite difficult for the teacher to gauge if the lectures are properly grasped by the students, they have a hard time determining if the class is too challenging or too easy for students
- Developing content for online classes is a bit tedious task and it increases the workload of teachers which makes it tough for them to manage time. They use almost double the time for online classes than for regular classes, as first they have to prepare the content then conduct online session
Even though teachers face these challenges in distance learning, distance learning still serves as a major convenience and proves to be efficient, especially in the time of crisis like COVID19. myViewBoard distance learning software is a close alternative to being in the physical classroom:
- myViewBoard offers a solution that can be useful by the educators in giving live lectures to remote participants, with clear and two-way communication. Students can indulge in debates and discussions through live chats
- While developing myViewBoard it was ensured that the user interface is extremely friendly for teachers as it has an option to sync multiple cloud-based file storage accounts for teachers
Rajeev: Amid this lockdown, how are you providing service-related support to your customers?
Muneer: In order to adhere to the lockdown regulations imposed by the government, our physical customer services have been affected and delayed across country. However, our toll-free customer care number is active and we are trying to provide maximum technical support to our patrons over the phone. Due to the lack of physical service support for our customers, we have also extended product warranties for the customers whose product warranties were expiring during the lockdown period, the same has now been extended to 31st May 2020.
Rajeev: Is there any additional scheme or offer you are offering to new customers during the current crisis?
Muneer: Other than extension of warranties, as mentioned in the previous answer, we are also offering ‘myViewBoard’ subscription free of cost to support distance learning. The students can learn themselves at home and teachers can guide them in these testing times.