Echo360 Helps Harding University Deliver Emergency Remote Learning and then Transition to Back to the Classroom
Flexibility and Ease-of-Use of Video Platform During Emergency Remote Learning Leads to Installation of Echo360 in 170+ Learning Spaces as Students Return to Campus
Like many institutions around the world, the videoconferencing platform Zoom was one of the tools the faculty and staff at Harding University used to deliver synchronous remote learning when they closed their campus in March 2020. But because the University needed to reach a student population that was geographically dispersed across many time zones, they also needed to have the capability to deliver instruction asynchronously. To do that, they relied on Echo360.
As it turned out, Harding used Echo360 to deliver both asynchronous and synchronous instruction for remote learning. The flexibility to deliver instruction both live and on-demand was especially helpful because Harding students come from 49 states and 55 countries, with students from as far away as Asia and Africa. Echo360 also helped to create a sense of normalcy during an uncertain time. It allowed instructors to present lectures and content in a way that was familiar to them and to their students.
“The main tools we used to deliver instruction when students could not be on campus were Canvas, our learning management, Echo360, and Zoom” says Paula Kirby, Harding University’s director of E-learning and multimedia services. “Echo360 is easy to use, and everyone came up to speed on its use quickly. Most importantly, our teachers are most comfortable when they are in the classroom,” she says. “As a result, many of the faculty returned to their regular classrooms on campus to record their lectures and presentations during the shutdown. It’s an environment where they are comfortable and Echo360 helped them to continue to teach the how they are accustomed.”
The Importance of Returning to Campus: A Community of Relationships
While instructors continued to teach classes remotely during the summer of 2020, administrators and staff were busy planning for students to return to campus in the Fall.
“Our students wanted to return to campus,” says Kirby. “They didn’t want to learn in isolation. They wanted to connect with their friends and see their professors. Harding University is a community of relationships. It’s the relationships students have with each other and with their teachers that make it a special place.”
Bringing students back meant the University would have to satisfy social distancing, classroom occupancy, and other safety guidelines required by the State of Arkansas. Protocols included measures such as:
- Installing plexiglass barriers in classrooms to enhance student safety and establish distancing,
- Managing congestion by implementing traffic control into buildings and classrooms, with one way in and one way out,
- Wearing masks in the classroom,
- Disinfecting classrooms in-between classes, deep-cleaning after-hours, and
- Enforcing occupancy guidelines by limiting the number of students who could be physically present in a classroom at any given time.
To ensure that students could still attend classes while meeting state occupancy guidelines, the University once again turned to Echo360.
Classes were divided into sections with one section physically present in their assigned classroom. The other section would view lectures and presentations remotely. Students would alternate between in-person and remote learning giving students an equal opportunity to be physically present with their instructor. Once again, Echo360 provided the flexibility to deliver instruction synchronously via live-streaming or asynchronously through the recorded sessions.
Connected Classrooms Reach Students Everywhere
By the time students returned to campus, every classroom, about 170 total, was equipped with Echo360 Universal Capture along with the necessary microphones and web cameras to record lectures and presentations. Every learning space was transformed into a connected classroom. Lectures were automatically scheduled to record by Echo360 administrators. Instructors only needed to enter the classroom at the appointed time and begin teaching.
Even with students back on campus, these connected Echo360 classrooms played an important role reaching and teaching students. It helped instructors reach students who were required to quarantine because of possible exposure to COVID. It also helped them continue to teach the large number of international students who were not able to return to campus due to travel restrictions.
“We have quite a few students from Asia and Africa who were not able to come back,” says Allison Case, an LMS support specialist and one of the Echo360 administrators at Harding. “They are all using Echo360. Students from Africa have contacted me and said they were watching Echo360 videos from a coffee shop where they could get an Internet connection.”
Providing Reliable Service at Scale
From August 2020 through February 2021, instructors at Harding used Echo360 to record 23,500 lectures and presentations totaling more than 20,000 hours. Echo360 performed with greater than 99.999 percent reliability during that time period and Echo360 administrators at Harding submitted only 3 help desk requests that were quickly resolved by Echo360 support staff.
“Last Fall, the University provost made the decision that we should continue to use Echo360 to record all our courses,” says Kirby. “At that point, we cut back on using Zoom because students were either in the classroom or they watched the Echo360 live stream. Based on our experience with Echo360 throughout the Spring and Summer, we knew that we had the right tool. Even if we were forced to close down the campus again, we had a reliable platform and knew how to use it. With Echo360 we were confident we could maintain continuity of instruction.”
Online and In-Person Learning Can Peacefully Coexist
Kirby says that while the University will continue to emphasize in-person instruction, online learning will grow and can complement classroom learning. It also offers students and faculty greater flexibility.
“Students do not have to be on campus for every class to gain the social benefits of university life. We have seen an increase in the number of students wanting to take online classes,” says Kirby. “For example, students want to go home for the summer months, but they still want to take classes, and we have a way for them to do that easily.”
“Harding University is an institution that continues to place great value and emphasis on face-to-face teaching and learning. However, it does not have to be one or the other. During the pandemic, we learned that lesson. There is no turning back; the demand for online learning at Harding will continue to grow. One of the most important lessons we learned from the pandemic experience is that we can do online teaching and learning and do it well. It opened our eyes to the fact that we were able to deliver quality learning, build relationships and serve our students by using technology such as Echo360.”
From campus video management, lecture capture, online and hybrid learning and more, contact us to discover how Echo360 can help transform the teaching and learning experience at your institution.