Choate Leads in Blended Learning Classrooms

On October 14, 2020 Choate Rosemary Hall Academic Technologist, Kelsey Wiegert, presented at the international Zoom user conference, Zoomtopia. Wiegert's live streaming presentation shared the journey of the School's pivot to virtual classrooms from March through Fall Term.

The Zoomtopia session titled, "How to Design Environments That Optimize Blended Learning" included speakers Ty Buell at Zoom, David J. Malan at Harvard University and Kelsey Wiegert at Choate Rosemary Hall. Wiegert spoke to over 2,000 attendees on the use of Zoom Rooms in a blended classroom of remote and in-person learners. She emphasized the significance of Choate's one-to-one iPad program and its contribution to the success of students joining class virtually during online learning in Spring and early Fall term.

Wiegert explained the School's efforts with the help of Valley Communications in creating Virtual Student, a 55-inch monitor and the Poly Studio X30 running Zoom Rooms on a mobile cart, adding that the technology allows for classes to reach beyond the lecture style. Virtual Student, implemented in September, provides opportunity for group work with members not in the same room, also allowing remote students to feel part of the physical community. Over 80 Virtual Student systems were configured in classrooms across campus along with spaces with advanced set-up displays. Faculty have been utilizing this blended experience since Monday, October 12.

Wiegert notes, "We hope to foster a sense of community by blending the in-person student experience with the remote student experience. Choate provides students with transformative and meaningful experiences that instill lifelong learning, leadership, and service, shaped by innovative and passionate educators." Faculty members continue to teach in these semi-immersive spaces throughout Fall Term using Zoom Rooms with Virtual Student and in-person classes.

The Zoomtopia presentation was credited largely in part by Choate faculty and staff; Kelsey Wiegert, Geoffrey Lane, Andrew Speyer, Morgan Harris, Casey Kelsey, and Tom White. Meticulous efforts of the Technology Support Group, including ITS, Academic Tech, and Andrew Mellon Library, made for a successful implementation of the most Choate-like experience possible through hybrid learning.