Updated: Sep 13, 2021
On the first day of the ASU+GSV Summit, an annual convening of leaders in technology and business, ClassIn foregrounded an emerging trend in education at its sponsored session “Education in the Post-Pandemic World: China's experiment in Online-Merge-Offline for education continuity and equity”. Moderated by ClassIn’s Director of North America Rick Chen, the panel presented leading figures of Online-Merge-Offline (OMO) learning – Ronghuai Huang, Director of UNESCO International Rural Educational and Training Centre and Professor of Education at Beijing Normal University, Aaron Lennon, VP of CATS Global Schools, and Sara Gu, Co-Founder and COO of ClassIn.
Proudly recognized as one of the GSV Edtech 150, ClassIn has established a presence at the ASU+GSV Summit as a participant from 2016 to 2019. This year, the EdTech company joined the summit virtually to introduce OMO learning and share successful experiences implementing the learning model in an effort to inspire how we approach education in the post-pandemic world.
Establishing the Concept of OMO Learning on the Global Stage
Opening the event, our moderator Rick Chen set in place a clear framework of the OMO ecosystem: “Online-Merge-Offline is a learning mode that relies on hybrid infrastructure and open educational practices to merge online and offline learning spaces together in real-time while simultaneously seamlessly teaching students in both the physical classroom and online.”
While some existing learning models, such as hybrid learning and blended learning, offer tentative solutions to connecting students of different spaces, the OMO method builds on ClassIn technologies to create a well-rounded classroom experience.
“The hybrid learning that we talked about before is simply the facilitation of online tools in the offline classroom. However, with the development of new technologies, including the live streaming technology we are using now, teaching scenarios will become more diversified and complex,” Sara Gu, ClassIn Co-Founder and COO, noted. She further distinguished that “Just like the name suggests, OMO learning seamlessly integrates online and offline spaces to provide an authentic learning experience, which is supported by education-centric technologies and infrastructure. With multiple communication channels and classroom tools, OMO learning affords a highly interactive classroom and innovative activities.”
"Just like the name suggests, OMO learning seamlessly integrates online and offline spaces to provide an authentic learning experience, which is supported by education-centric technologies and infrastructure." -- Sara Gu, ClassIn Co-Founder and COO
OMO Learning in Practice: Case Studies
- K12 Schools
Beyond a promising concept on paper, the OMO learning model builds on tried-and-true cases of application across a range of educational institutions. Aaron Lennon, the new VP of CATS Global Schools and former Co-Principal of Yew Wah International Educational School, dove into a detailed account of how the pandemic prompted Yew Wah to adopt online education and eventually make the transition to OMO learning.
“During our initial phase, we evaluated e-learning platforms. We wanted to look for something synchronous, in real-time, that has teaching tools, that is easy to use for staff, students, and parents, that provided some training, and would enable collaborative learning… And our initial research drew us to ClassIn, which we are still using in the school.”
Lennon highlighted strenuous efforts on the part of teachers in making the transition online, where many had to work “flexibly” in developing teaching materials and adapting to the needs of children. Luckily, ClassIn functions such as breakout rooms were able to assist educators with supporting students on an individual basis.
Now, as schools have returned to fairly normal operations in light of epidemic control measures, Yew Wah opted to “merge our online experience of using education technology into the offline world, which is where we are now,” Mr. Lennon said. Additionally, presenting real-life images of OMO learning at Yew Wah, he emphasized that it only takes a simple digital setup in the classroom to implement the learning model.
- Higher Education Institutions
Outside of K12 education, OMO learning has also been widely adopted in higher education institutions. Ms. Gu reflected that universities in China followed a similar path, going from traditional brick-and-mortar classrooms to online learning and then the OMO model. “When covid broke out in 2020, we helped many teachers transform from offline to online teaching. It was very well recognized by teachers… For example, teachers and students can jointly write content on ClassIn’s blackboard during the class, and also we have for students collaboration, competition, and other in-class activities. We also support PBL teaching. And we offer comprehensive teaching analysis,” Gu recalled.
Gu went on to highlight that top universities, including Peking University, Tsinghua University, and Beijing Normal University, achieved great teaching progress and results with online learning, which is on par with that of in-person learning. With some teachers and students returning to in-person classrooms in post-pandemic times, Gu had faith in gaining more insights into whether OMO learning tools can deliver sustainable and meaningful practices in teaching.
Ronghuai Huang, Director of UNESCO International Rural Educational and Training Centre and Professor of Education at Beijing Normal University, described the adoption of OMO learning at BNU as “successful” – “Actually, we are trying to publish an article of this interest,” he said. Setting eyes on the larger picture, Huang maintained that "In china now, we are coming back to the schools. We try to combine the traditional learning methodologies and online learning technologies... For OMO, the experience will be useful for the future of education."
"We try to combine the traditional learning methodologies and online learning technologies... For OMO, the experience will be useful for the future of education." -- Ronghuai Huang, Director of UNESCO International Rural Educational and Training Centre and Professor of Education at Beijing Normal University
OMO Learning for Education Continuity and Equity
As the pandemic revealed glaring education inequities, the adoption of new education technologies and learning models comes with the question of how it implicates access to educational resources. Therefore, Gu emphasized how ClassIn affordances can be in service of pushing forward education equity beyond offering technological solutions to learning continuity.
“We’ll have more potential to better enable the distribution and integration of digitalized content, including the offline and online class discussions, and also the after-class tasks. In addition, the knowledge generated from the teaching process can be further shared and distributed through ClassIn,” Gu stated.
“We’ll have more potential to better enable the distribution and integration of digitalized content...the knowledge generated from the teaching process can be further shared and distributed through ClassIn,” -- Sara Gu, ClassIn Co-Founder and COO
Similarly, Huang believed that OMO learning has the potential to become the solution for the future of education in coordination with concerted and systematic efforts. He directed the audience’s attention to five key issues, including infrastructure building, the extension of learning spaces, digital resources, digital literacy, and the establishment of a public service system. “We have enough experiences, and we are trying to extend this concept that public service is very important for all the schools and for all teachers and students,” Huang asserted.
Pilot Study on OMO Learning: https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/13/6/3512/htm
About ClassIn: https://www.classin.com/en/
*ClassIn is a leading edtech company that provides a one-stop solution for digital learning.
ClassIn software enables interactive classrooms, in-school social app, lesson scheduling, homework management, and school management dashboard, which start free and scale up to meet our customers' needs at any stage of teaching. Today, thousands of schools and institutions around the world benefit from ClassIn's powerful and easy-to-use tools to teach online and offline.