An online teaching platform that gives socially distanced schools the means to deliver high quality, interactive lessons to entire classes of students has been launched and made freely available by UK technology company Bramble.
Bramble Broadcast meets a growing demand from teachers to use the company's highly successful live teaching platform to reach larger groups of students as schools plan to reopen with social distancing measures that will severely restrict the number of students in classes.
Will Chambers, Bramble Technologies co-founder, says: "Bramble Broadcast gives schools a freely available platform to easily deliver whole class online lessons to full classes of students, whether they are physically in the classroom or at home.
"Although school pupils are preparing for a tentative return to the classroom it's clear that social distancing will be a fact of life for some time to come.
"This will dramatically affect the ability of schools to safely accommodate all their pupils in classrooms and will make the online delivery of high quality, interactive lessons, more akin to being in a classroom, a critical part of the picture."
The launch of Bramble Broadcast follows remarkable growth in take-up of Bramble's one-to-one online teaching platform. Use grew by 2,064 per cent in April 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. The platform was made freely available to tutors and teachers in early March as the lockdown loomed and has hosted over 160,000 hours of live teaching and learning in more than 100 countries since.
Bramble is designed for educators and includes features not found on mainstream video conferencing solutions. Teachers can access a range of familiar teaching tools, including a shared whiteboard to upload resources such as worksheets, images and PDFs, with pen and text tools to draw diagrams and add annotations.
Lesson recording is augmented with artificial intelligence to turn words spoken by teacher and student into accurate transcripts, while optical character recognition software transcribes any resources and text annotations. Students search their lesson recordings using Bramble's Smart Search technology, which identifies a user's key search terms to make topic searches fast and accurate.
Bramble Broadcast runs on the company's own data infrastructure and uses 96 per cent less bandwidth bandwidth than videoconferencing. This means that students from households with poor internet connections can access online teaching with minimal disruption – helping to address a major concern of schools serving the most deprived areas. Students do not have to download software and simply join a lesson with a single click on a link using the Google Chrome web browser.
Neil Dixon, a biology teacher at an 11-18 comprehensive in West Sussex, has started trialling Bramble Broadcast with sixth form students and is planning to use the technology to teach full classes from September. He said: "I'm looking at a scenario where I will be back in school in my classroom with a small number of students in front of me who find it harder to work at home, and the rest of class will be logged on through Bramble Broadcast. Broadcast will allow every student to see the full lesson and interact with me in the same way, whether they are in the classroom or at home. And because the lesson is recorded students can then access that lesson later for revision."