The relentless global march of Coronavirus has created the most unlikely backdrop for an Edtech scramble that just a couple of short months ago seemed unthinkable. Contingency planning at this scale within education was hardly a consideration and as such we have seen a transformation in online learning from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must-have’ at an unprecedented pace.
In its infancy, we saw the emergence of MOOCS (massive online open courses), and video learning via small group interaction through the likes of Skype and Zoom. Harvard University pioneered the development of HBX which allows an interactive immersive classroom with larger numbers of students interacting in real-time with their professor. Thousands of people around the world have enjoyed learning within these formats, however, until now, the remote learning experience has been largely an add on, niche activity for most universities and business schools, including corporations in upskilling their workforce.
The early attempts at remote learning have been limited by technology, so the professor or trainer is delivering classes to audiences he or she cannot see in an asynchronous manner, with interaction limited to chat and occasional live responses. This delivered an unsatisfactory result for both teacher and student. Attempts at real-time interaction have struggled with connection quality, transmission delay and the ability to cope with any significant size of audience, with the sole exception of HBX. The arrival of mashme.io Room of the Future technology finally provided the first commercially available platform with the unique ability to deliver classes of up to 200 students that could interact immersively in real-time (less than 200 milliseconds delay) with their fellow cohort and their professor/trainers in a highly interactive way.
Enter the spread of coronavirus which has driven the need for remote learning to go mainstream. As of April 2020, we do not yet know how long the widespread shutdown of schools and universities will last, nor how much restriction corporations will place on executive travel long term, but even if this proves to be a temporary disruption, as indeed we hope it will, the passing imperative for remote interactive communication will raise awareness of how technology could in the future allow a massive paradigm shift in learning practices.
The rapid explosion of video-collaboration within education has highlighted some important considerations for any establishment looking to move quickly form a predominantly face-to-face engagement with students to an online environment. Selecting a solution that is solely focussed on delivering tools and feature specific to remote education and corporate training from inception is key and noteworthy when bringing the mashme.io solution to everyone’s attention:
- Video-collaboration platform without the need for downloads or setups due to WebRTC standard (Web Real-Time Communications)
- Able to deliver up to 200 streams in very high quality and low latency globally that can be shown on large screens or videowall formats
- Individual stream QoS (Quality of Service) control
- Container-based (Kubernetes & Docker) backend infrastructure allows easy deployment and horizontal scaling (recently proven during the coronavirus crisis with traffic multiplying many times over without issue)
- SRE (Site Reliability Engineering)-minded with strict infrastructure monitoring and extremely capable DevOps teams
- Security and privacy-conscious, complying with ISO 27001, ISO 9001, FERPA and GDPR
- Ability to segregate cloud resources to meet specific customer requirements that need further security
- Integrated analytics for both customers and internal use to monitor usage and provide important feedback for course improvement and platform growth
- Strong networking knowledge with a team managing a global VPC (Virtual Private Cloud)
- Focused in Edtech (education and corporate training) with 75+ unique features including Canvas (LMS) integration and instantaneous, automatic breakout rooms, but easily extendable to other use cases
- Alphanumeric randomly generated links for greater security
- 100% virtual classrooms – delivering entirely remote-only solutions