Videoconferencing System That Brings Online the Interactivity of In-Person
Bryan Lee, a rising senior at Harvard University, has spent the last several months building a videoconferencing system called Congregate. Its purpose is to recreate the moment of walking into a room and choosing which group of people to sit with—in this case, on a group video call rather than in a physical classroom. For instance, a teacher could use Congregate to create an online classroom where students would see a series of icons of tables and pictures of faces showing who is sitting at each table. Clicking or tapping the icon of an empty chair would take the participant to a video call with others at that table. The approach aims to solve a major downside of remote learning—a sense of social isolation as students and teachers sit alone at laptops. Harvard plans to experiment with the technology in the fall. Meanwhile, a beta version is available for other academic institutions and K–12 schools to try.
On the laundry list of skills and content areas teachers have to cover, creativity doesn’t traditionally get top billing. It’s usually lumped together with other soft skills like communication and collaboration: Great to have, though not as important as reading or long division.
But research is showing that creativity isn’t just great to have. It’s an essential human skill — perhaps even an evolutionary imperative in our technology-driven world.
The nonprofit Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) and several other organizations have released guidance to help schools meet the social and emotional needs of students as they return to school after prolonged closures.
Salesforce has announced Work.com for Schools to help school administrators make data-driven decisions on when and how to return to campus safely, facilitate communication between teachers and families at scale, and support students remotely.