How a school used Webex Video Devices to drive inclusion and success during the pandemic
Beyond learning with Webex by Cisco Hybrid Classrooms
Oak Meadow School is an independent school based in Littleton, Massachusetts, serving children between the ages of 15 months through Grade 8. Oak Meadow School is a Montessori school, rooted in the child-centered Montessori philosophy, which fosters academic excellence, personal growth, and cultural awareness while nurturing children’s spirits.
What makes Oak Meadow stand out was that as soon as the State imposed lockdown in March 2020 their focus was about how to enable their teachers to teach in an engaging way so that children could learn, and that they could complete their full curriculum. Their goal was to make all the children feel included, irrespective of whether they would end up back in the classroom or whether they chose to remain at home for the following school year.
This was in stark contrast to the majority of schools where the focus was on “online learning.” This subtle difference of focusing on the outcomes, and not the method, was one of the many reasons why Oak Meadow was able to teach a full curriculum and not suffer the substantial learning loss that many other schools did.
Moving from full remote to hybrid classrooms with Webex Devices
When Oak Meadow had to shutdown in March 2020 they used Webex for teachers and children, all of whom were at home. After just one week of preparation, the teachers were all teaching and holding class, albeit from their homes. Not just “online learning,” but actual teaching.
In parallel, Oak Meadow began to plan for September’s new school year in earnest. In Massachusetts the state allowed schools to open up to in-person teaching as long as the guidelines were followed. For Oak Meadow that meant that 70% of families chose to send their children back to the classroom, while 30% wanted to keep their children at home.
There were not enough teachers to run separate classes for the at-home children and the in-class ones. Oak Meadow needed to make sure that the same teacher could “teach” both the in-class and at-home children in an effective way that allowed them to not only complete the full curriculum, but ensure that there was no learning loss.
As you can see in the picture, as an example of one of the classrooms, this was achieved by using a single Webex Room Kit with dual Samsung displays paired in this case with a Webex Board.
The key impact of this set-up is that the teacher at the front of the class next to the Webex Board can see and engage with both the local and remote children in her same view. No need to look down onto a laptop to see the remote children. This is much more natural and engaging. Likewise, the children at home feel they are in the class, and not in front of it!
By shifting the children at home to being “in” the class on the large displays, they can engage with the in-class children as well as the teacher, so everyone feels included.
“Great learning only happens when the social and emotional side of a students life is in balance. We needed a technology where the whole purpose was to engage students in learners” – Jay Scheurle, Head of School
“Its easy for students in the class to see you. They can interact with you the same way that you can interact with them. It looks like the actual classroom!” Rylan Bottger – Remote 6th Grade Student
“Now that I have used it I can see how its going to cure a lot of problems outside of the pandemic” Mr D’Amore – Lead Teacher, Science
Beyond the pandemic and how Oak Meadow will use Webex and Devices
At Oak Meadow they had an “amazingly successful year” according to Mr Scheurle. They are now actively working on using their classrooms and Webex to enhance their curriculum, even if at times everyone is in the classrooms. They are planning to use some of the Webex education services to take students to engage with national park rangers or marine biologists at aquariums, all from their classrooms. Click here to learn more about Oak Meadow.
Watch the video:
May 26, 2022 — Alex Cambell
May 24, 2022 — Thomas Wingfield
May 19, 2022 — Emily Brooks