Picture a situation where you do not need to be physically present in a classroom to receive a lecture or a scenario where you do not need to pay for accommodations or travel fees to go to school. That is what distance learning does for you. Distance learning allows you to learn anything you want at the comfort of your home via online learning platforms.
One of the most effective ways to learn online is through the virtual classroom method of teaching. A virtual classroom is an online learning method that allows students and teachers to connect via the internet in real-time.
Virtual classroom makes use of online whiteboards, video conferencing and screen sharing. These tools allow instructors to carry out live lectures, discuss with students and hold virtual office hours. A typical classroom is not meant to provide an inferior experience when compared to a physical classroom. But rather provide an even better experience.
The virtual classroom offers benefits like sharing files, interaction and instant feedback. The virtual classroom is no doubt the ideal distance learning strategy. A virtual classroom is easily accessible to users as it only requires tablets, laptops and mobile phones to gain access to them.
Are you hearing about the virtual classroom for the first time and want to know what it entails?. Then this article is for you as it reviews important things you need to know about the virtual classroom.
Expectations from a virtual classroom
Below are some of the things to look out for in a virtual classroom;
Virtual classrooms host a huge number of students all over the world. Video streaming allows many people to participate in the virtual classroom at the same time. Though some virtual meetings can be for a smaller group of people, virtual classrooms require something that can help cover many people at once, which is why it uses a video streaming strategy.
Creating a special group for students enables the bonding of the students over academic or non-academic topics. This feature is very important even in a traditional classroom. These groups allow students to develop friendships and discuss classes topics with themselves.
This feature of a virtual classroom enables annotation, more vivid explanation, marking and content display. The digital whiteboard can be used for the student’s thesis or project presentation. It is well suited for touch screen devices.
Safe file sharing
The virtual classroom is designed to allow a two-way sharing system. This feature allows instructors to share assignments and projects to be undertaken. File sharing promotes seamless collaboration between the instructor and students on one single learning platform.
Video chat of high quality
This property creates a human feeling connection and ensures that due attention is being paid to the students. Video chats in a virtual classroom are done through video conferencing applications available on Android and iOS.
A typical virtual classroom would have messaging features to enhance the potential for communication. Students need this feature to chat with their teacher and other students to clear their doubts on a particular subject. Instant messaging is used in cases where there is no need for voice or video calls.
Other features to expect from a virtual classroom includes; participation controls, sub chats, video recording and end to end encryption
Some user-friendly types of virtual classroom
Rotating virtual classroom
This type of virtual classroom is usually used as a part of rollover classroom techniques. The rotation involves both offline and virtual classrooms based on how they are scheduled. In most cases, main learning occurs online, while one-on-one meetings are scheduled for reviewing and reinforcement.
Flexible virtual classroom
The flexible virtual classroom is always available and open for students. This feature allows them to gain access to the classroom and participate at their own convenient time. With the virtual classroom being a flexible one, students can always return to the classroom if they have questions to ask.
Enriched virtual classroom
The enriched virtual classroom is majorly online based. However, few offline components are enabled to augment curricula and lessons. The Few offline components include; one on one meetings with instructors or group meetings with other students. It is done to solve a particular problem or assignment.
Fully online virtual classrooms
This type of virtual classroom only allows online interactions. This feature means offline one on one meetings is not allowed in this type of virtual classroom. With the fully online virtual classroom, there is minimal live interaction and pre-recorded videos through an online meeting software.
Mix and match virtual classroom
This type of virtual classroom provides students with the opportunity to select the best method that works best for them. This attribute allows students to gain all the knowledge they desire. Mix and match virtual classrooms use digital teaching models that can be led either by the students or their institutions.
Benefits of virtual classroom
Convenient learning environment
With virtual classrooms, online learning has been made to be more comfortable and less robotic. Interaction between the instructor and students is very important in the education system. Virtual classroom enables students to chat and interact with other students and their instructor without compromise.
Student-centered method of teaching
One of the aims of using a virtual classroom is to focus more on the learners and how they are learning while interacting with them in real time. This cannot be compared to the teacher-centric method of teaching that makes use of pre-recorded videos. With the virtual classroom, students have the opportunity to clarify concepts they do not understand, discuss topics and ask questions. All of these are carried out in real-time.
With multiple communication channels such as chat rooms, conferencing messaging, and so on, the virtual classroom becomes highly interactive for both learners and their instructor. This feature enables students to give their varying preferences on a subject which would benefit everybody equally at the end.
Variety of content types
With the range of media types, virtual classroom presents knowledge so that a variety of students learning styles and abilities are being attended to. The content-type varieties include; SlideShare, digital whiteboard, animations, videos, presentations and webinars.
The use of virtual meeting applications, chats, filesharing, digital whiteboards enhances collaborative learning among students. This feature replicates the real-time classroom feeling without having to meet physically. Collaborative education also reinforces materials learned to enable higher knowledge retention.
Coupled with the amazing benefits and features that come with it, a virtual classroom is a very effective teaching method. The virtual classroom is student-centric making it a good method to improve students’ performance using online learning. Virtual classroom gives you the same or even a better experience when compared to physical education.