Real-time Collaboration: The Next Frontier in Ed-tech

Blog Post 3 Cover (1)

by Saad Malik & Jeffrey Chin 

Web-based learning and assessment platforms are steadily becoming more important in college classrooms. The rise in the availability of ebooks has made it easy for professors to pick a textbook without concerning themselves with issues such as physical weight, availability in the university library or inventory requirements at the local bookstore. In some cases, these ebooks can even be integrated with a university’s learning platform.  The integration provides new opportunities for all stakeholders. Students can collaborate with their classmates online while they consume the ebook. Professors can keep track of this collaboration and identify students who might be in need of assistance or pick topics that need to be reinforced in the classroom. For administrators, collaboration can be used as a predictor of classroom success.

 

Research has repeatedly shown that on average, “groups” are more efficient at solving complex tasks when compared with individuals. Every person has a unique way of thinking. When students have the opportunity to interact with each other, they are able to draw more in-depth conclusions than they would be able to individually. Problems are easier to solve when you have broader perspectives as each student has a unique background.

 

Developing a product that focuses on real-time collaboration, in an education context, presents certain unique challenges. From the student’s perspective, real-time collaboration may just be a fancy word for direct messaging. Thus in student focus groups, participants find it difficult to find value in various collaboration technologies. So how can Edtech firms stand out? At Omega Notes, we believe that integration is king. Edtech developers must ensure that no feature, no matter how advanced, disrupts user workflow. In other words, the best tech is also the least visible. The Notebook by Omega Notes is seamlessly integrated into our Course Packs platform. What does seamless integration mean? We wanted to make it extremely easy for students to collaborate in real-time while they consume course material. A major flaw of old-school collaboration platforms such as (Google Docs, Online Chat, etc.) is that they require the student to navigate to a different window or tab. We felt that doing so interrupted the learning process. The Notebook panel is highlighted in yellow in the image below. Students can collaborate with peers or even interact with their professor without navigating away from the course content.

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Making the Case

Product designers need to make the case for highly integrated collaboration platforms. And ultimately, the case needs to be made to professors. With the increased adoption of online learning resources, convincing professors is a much easier task. When course material is consumed digitally, it makes it possible to collect accurate analytics regarding student learning habits. We can now show professors that real-time collaboration results in higher rates of student success. With actual numbers, we can quantify the benefits of real-time collaboration.

References

John Kania & Mark Kramer, Collective Impact, SSIR, https://ssir.org/articles/entry/collective_impact# 

Matt Davis, How Collaborative Learning Leads to Student Success, Edutopia, https://www.edutopia.org/stw-collaborative-learning-college-prep

 

 

 

Guide to the Modern Classroom: Part 2

Learning: Use Tech to Take Better Notes

Notebook

The Calendar, coupled with cloud-storage have hopefully helped a great deal with organization. Now, you find yourself in class, ready to start taking notes. This blog will detail which word processor is ideal for the modern classroom, we’ll even go over some best practices when taking notes. Material pertaining to a class (lecture slides, graphs, etc.) are best stored in the cloud services mentioned in Part 1. However, what about the actual note taking? Which software works best when it comes to effectively writing down what’s being taught without actually losing focus.

This is where the Omega Notes Notebook comes into play. The Omega Notes Notebook is free to use for anyone with an Omega Notes Account (Also Free!). The Notebook stands out because it was made specifically for taking notes on your laptop during a lecture.

Why does it work?

  • Each note that you take can be neatly organized by class or section.
  • A split screen view makes sure that your previous notes are still partially in view. Thus, allowing easy access in case your professor asks you to recall something he/she previously mentioned.
  • The Notebook allows you to create class-specific flashcards which makes exam-prep a lot more efficient.

How should I use the Notebook?

  • Login to Omega Notes and open the Notebook. Before the lecture starts, enter in the course name (You don’t have to worry about the date).
  • If it’s your first time with the notebook, be sure to familiarize yourself with all the writing tools at your disposal.
  • Focus on the lecture. Note-taking should never come at the expense of understanding the material that is being taught.
  • At the end of class, go to your calendar and make a note of the topics covered in class today.

It’s important to understand that the sole purpose of the Notebook is to help students. Many other word processors have features that students simply do not use. These excess features may slow down your laptop and make the note-taking experience more cumbersome.

Create an account on Omega Notes today and start taking quality notes!