Originally published by Dr. Yang Xiaozhe of The Institute of Curriculum and Instruction at East China Normal University
Changes in the learning environment and trials of online instruction have turned the page to a new chapter in education, Online-Merge-Offline (OMO) learning.
The OMO approach, compared to in-person or online learning, amplifies the functions of a traditional classroom, expands access to learning opportunities, and gives rise to personalization.
In the meantime, OMO learning comes with greater complexities and challenges, which calls for more common understanding and technological support accordingly. Therefore, we hereby present 7 strategies for effective practice of the OMO method to achieve better learning outcomes.
1. Integration of OMO into the Entire Learning Process through an LMS
Instead of setting eyes on a particular activity or lesson, the OMO approach requires a systematic view to understand technology and plan the learning process.
The adoption of a learning management system (LMS) brings together goals, resources, assignments, and assessment on one platform, which can better support different stages of learning at all times.
The primary strategy of practicing OMO learning also means constant updates and optimization of the system, perhaps with a resources management system, homework management system, and more.
At the very least, educators can start from a simple online class group, affording a space for synchronous and constant class communication.
2. Mindful Designs for Online Education
As the name OMO suggests, the method seamlessly integrates online and in-person learning. In particular, the online part of OMO is not limited to livestreamed instruction and interaction but places an emphasis on student agency, where students exert control over the time, location, pathways, and pace of learning.
In turn, the design of online learning has to partly shift from the instructor’s one-sided lecturing to autonomous learning by the students.
To be more specific, learners can study at their own pace by pausing or fast-forwarding learning materials or determine by themselves when to attend class and how to finish an assignment. It’s important to note how passive learning turns to proactive engagement.
Additionally, educators can devise assignments and assessment better focused on the learning materials, which allows students to collaborate, discuss, and even tutor each other.
OMO learning infused with mindful online instruction designs has been put to practice in many schools and districts. Whether it is employing online learning for specific days and modules or offering flexible online pathways, these innovations continue to open new doors for the development of OMO learning.
3. Ensure Online Access to All the In-Person Classes
Can we join in-person class via online channels anytime we want?
A great number of schools have made steps toward simultaneously hybrid access where classrooms are equipped with cameras in combination with edtech platforms such as ClassIn.
Catering to a more accessible learning environment as well as emergency scenarios, an OMO ecosystem meets the needs of various situations. Beyond entirely in-person or online classes, teachers and students can all join from wherever at their convenience. For instance, the instructor can teach a classroom of kids from home, or students have the choice to partly attend class online.
No matter what the circumstance is, participants will be empowered to interact in real time, and a virtual blackboard can also assist with visuals and scribbling.
Even when teachers and students are together in one classroom, connection and accessibility of the class are still meaningful.
Behind this classroom of infinite connection and limitless access is a powerful edtech solution. The platform automatically records class content and stores everything in a cloud-based database, and in turn, digitized resources will stitch together every step of the learning process.
As a result, we set out to highlight the importance of digitization on a larger scale–digitization of educational resources, tools, and platforms–for more well-rounded designs and application of OMO learning.
4. Support Learning Module with Multiple Resources
It is challenging for a traditional offline classroom to break the limitations of time and space when accessing resources. Through OMO learning, teachers are equipped with a cloud-based platform of educational materials.
Teachers leverage digital resources such as text, images, videos, datasets, and virtual experiments to support students in developing deep learning in authentic contexts.
Resource in constructing authentic contexts includes:
- Texts: being descriptive or explanatory.
- Images: focus on visualization and figurative frames.
- Videos: being authentic or process-oriented.
- Datasets: highlight structure and objectivity.
- Virtual experiments: focus on simulation and interactivity.
Digital learning resources serve as a learning field for constructing real situations and helping students face, analyze, and solve problems.
The instructional materials design indicates the teacher's philosophy. Teachers choose effective content and resources for literacy development and guide students to digest learning content from fragmentation to structure, from abstract generalization to contextual immersion.
Effective resources include slides, pre-recorded video, presentation clips, interactive software resources, virtual experiment platforms, excerpts from quality lessons, or meeting links of videos automatically generated after a class.
Teachers can select and reorganize resources with a target and put them in cloud drives. Then give students specific guidelines to facilitate their use of learning resources.
Digital resources should shift the focus from the teacher to the learners, from in-class time to curriculum construction.
5. Use Proper Tools to Develop Cognitive and Collaborative Learning
Integrating technology tools into the classroom is a scenario-and phase-based process. Both teachers and students need to know how to use technology and develop cognitive and collaborative learning with technology.
However varied technology access may be, there are three ways to integrate tech tools into a classroom:
- Interactive teaching screen + Students (without terminal equipment).
- Interactive teaching screen + One terminal equipment for each group of students.
- Interactive teaching screen + One terminal equipment for each student.
An intelligent terminal is a way to provide students with technology integration for recording, searching, sharing, collaborating, and creating. Using an Intelligent terminal helps to cultivate students' self-construction, team cooperation, curiosity in science and innovation, and humanistic vision in the teaching process.
Choose appropriate tools to promote student cognition and collaboration.
Tools include interactive features (such as polling, selection, matching games, and mind mapping) and subject-based cognitive development features (such as virtual labs, geometric boards, and electronic instruments. Some tools, such as collaborative documents, small blackboard, and breakout room, promote collaboration.
In Challenge Based Learning (CBL), integrate multiple tools that support information research, cognitive processing, and collaborative learning. The technology-integrated learning tasks should be conducted and designed as a unit in a systematic way, rather than using fragmented resources.
6. Adopt Different Teaching Models
ClassIn transforms a traditional offline classroom space from the same school or even across schools into a connected learning experience so that we can re-design the curriculum.
Many schools have already carried out many AI+OMO classroom innovative practices, here are some examples
- One-to-Many Model: one teacher interacts with students from different offline classrooms.
- Two Teacher Model: one lecturing teacher delivers the lecture online via live-streaming, and one assistant teacher will be in present in the class.
- Team Teaching: teachers are instructing students at the same time.
Teachers encourage students to ask questions and facilitate authentic communication through an interactive virtual learning environment.
Connection is not for taking up time or space. Instead, it allows students to choose where and when they feel most comfortable, participate in versatile learning activities, and enhance human-computer interaction.
7. Create Data-based Personalized Learning
The dilemma of the traditional classroom is a one-size-fits-all curriculum with a standardized level, pace, and path of learning.
Sometimes students who take online courses have to review through offline classes. Therefore, keep systematic recording of each student's learning progress, and set the class level based on the content.
Teachers could fall into the past trap when they keep recording students’ processes and fail to provide effective feedback even if they have acquired a certain level of data. Utilize data collection, analysis, and feedback through an online learning platform; and give assessment, examination, and evaluation supported by technology.
For example, some schools carried out Virtual Course Registration, allowing students access to different levels of online virtual classrooms with one terminal. It is a typical case of customizable learning based on learning feedback data, thus creating a new way of organizing learning.
Integrating new technologies in evaluation shifts teaching from a one-time process to a personalized and adaptive approach. Online platforms and terminals enable teachers to adjust their teaching activities quickly and give customized feedback.
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