Education has undergone significant transformations in the last couple of decades, especially during the pandemic. With the help of technology, virtual learning has become possible and the learning experience has become more personal and interactive. The evolution of education with different learning styles backed by the power of the Internet has now reached the age of virtual classrooms.
Unlike traditional classroom teaching methods, virtual classes offer a high degree of convenience and flexibility to the learners. You can also think of it as the ‘new age learning’ technique in which the teacher and students need not be in the same physical location to deliver lectures.
If you want to make the most of virtual classrooms, you must know what they are and how they can benefit you. Let’s dig deeper into the very concept of a virtual class.
What is a Virtual Classroom?
A virtual classroom refers to the online learning environment that enables live interaction between learners and teachers while they participate in various learning activities. In this environment, the exchange of information mostly takes place through voice or video conferencing facilities which can connect several participants, including students and instructors, to the same interface.
You can also think of a virtual classroom as a shared online space where both the teachers and learners worked together in collaboration. All the participants get access to the tools to present learning content and implement individual/collaborative activities.
How Virtual Classrooms Work?
In virtual classrooms, the teachers mainly play the role of a moderator who guides participants through the learning process and supports them for group activities and discussions. Unlike traditional classroom teaching, students can get access to quality teachers from anywhere as long as there is a reliable Internet connection at both ends. As a result, it breaks down the common barriers that hinder synchronous learning, such as distance, cost, and timing.
With advanced tools, virtual classrooms also allow the teachers to create lessons based on the specific needs of students, offer assistance as required, and track lessons/topics where most students are struggling with.
Virtual Classroom Vs. Web Conference
Virtual classrooms are not the same as web conferencing but there are several similarities.
A virtual classroom has many features that come with a web conferencing tool, alongside additional learning-centric characteristics. For instance, an interactive online whiteboard in a virtual class provides a shared focal point for seamless collaboration on various learning projects.
Similarly, the class also has teacher tools like an instant dictionary, save/record class session tool, and more to maintain a good learning experience.
Related Content – Best WordPress Themes for Education and eLearning Websites
How to Create a Virtual Classroom
If you want to create a virtual classroom environment you have several virtual classroom software options some of the popular ones being Google Classroom, Edmodo, WizIQ, EasyClass, etc,. Virtual classroom software allows teachers and instructors to engage with learners in an online setting with various capabilities such as:
Capabilities of a Virtual Classroom Software
- High-definition video conferencing
- Secure live streaming
- Server-side class recording
- Advanced interactive whiteboard
- Advanced collaboration and moderation
- Teach private and group classes
- Live screen sharing
Classroom Management Capabilities:
- Polls and surveys
- Test and assessment
- Easy administration
- Insights and analytics
Advantages of Moving to Virtual Classrooms
The teaching and learning experience of a virtual classroom is similar to the traditional physical one. However, it comes with a variety of benefits for all the interacting parties, including enhanced convenience and higher efficiency.
1. Easy Accessibility and Access from Anywhere
With traditional physical classrooms, both the teachers and learners need to be present in the same place for the exchange of information and interaction. Virtual classes, on the other hand, provide seamless connectivity between both ends, irrespective of their location.
Individuals can participate in a virtual class through a web browser. This location-independent feature makes this next-gen class type suitable for many to continue the journey to learn new things. You could even connect from any devices such as Desktop, Laptops, Tablets, and Mobile devices.
2. Cost Savings for Leaners and Instructors
The cost of commuting from their homes to the educational institutes and arrange for feasible transportation. Along with the costs, doing all this is time-consuming and taxing for many.
As an alternative to traditional classroom settings, virtual classrooms lead to cost-savings. Moreover, they provide flexibility to experience Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) in a real-world environment.
3. Global Reach and Exposure
Students living in a specific country often look for ways to get enrolled in courses/classes offered by renowned teachers in foreign lands. In traditional ways, the only way to join such courses is to move to where the teacher is. The same is true for teachers who aim to reach out to international students/clients.
With virtual classrooms, both students and teachers can get global reach, the benefit of which can be leveraged in many ways in life.
4. Support for Multimedia
Virtual classes are not just about showing images and text to the learners online. Rather, it is more of a comprehensive interactive experience, which is one of its kind. They include video files, audio recordings, educational games, and even simulations to add interactive elements into the classes/courses offered. This way, the students can interact with teachers almost the same as in physical classes, but from the comfort of their homes.
5. Real-time Feedback
Information shared during a virtual class is mostly recorded in real-time. Alongside this, teachers can look at the engagement level, analyze who struggled with what, and offer valuable teaching experience. Also, they can collect valuable feedback about the information/informational products offered.
6. Easy to Scale Up
In the traditional classroom model, you need to build more classes to accommodate more students in an educational premise. Virtual classrooms, however, require IT resources that are scalable as per course-specific or client-specific needs. One can easily get access to more resources as soon as the demand grows. It means that educators no longer need to worry about the growing demand/popularity of their online courses. They can easily scale up and cater to a broader audience.
Virtual classrooms can be used for teaching any age groups such as Adults, College goers, high school, primary school kids and can also be used for toddlers. You can do interactive virtual classes such as yoga class, cooking class, etc., and you can even do virtual reality class such as Virtual Spin Class, Virtual lab, C++ virtual class, and many more like it.
Virtual Classroom Vs. Physical Classroom
There are very few differences but more similarities between physical and virtual classes. Both these types of classes mirror each other in many ways.
At one end, there is a physical classroom in which students can see and hear both the teacher and other students around, whiteboard, and their learning material. The same is true for virtual classes as well, except that it happens via audio or video stream.
The lectures would be recorded so you can give access to students to view them again for better understanding.
Most of the virtual classroom setups have the following characteristics that make them much better than physical classroom:
Through virtual classes, the learners work in collaboration towards exchanging information, clarifying doubts, and solving problems. As a result of enhanced collaboration, they get opportunities to learn how to cooperate with others.
Also, virtual classes allow teachers to explore the differences in the level of knowledge and skills of the participants.
Also See: the Best Collaboration Tools
The traditional teaching format of giving lectures put greater emphasis on the content served, giving the learners lesser ways to think out-of-the-box. On the other hand, tutors in virtual classes offer more flexibility for learners to absorb teachings at their own pace. It encourages active participation and communication between the teams, which tends to increase their interest and motivation level.
Virtual classes create a safer, informal environment that the learners can enjoy and participate in from wherever they are. The psychological safety offered fosters a sense of creativity and confidence in the learners’ minds. At the same time, virtual teachers hold the responsibility to encourage safe discussions, mutual respect, and willingness to share various viewpoints.
Can Virtual Classrooms be the Future of Education?
Though there is a boom right now for virtual classrooms because of the pandemic, due to the advantages of distance learning with virtual classrooms compared to physical classrooms, more and more educational institutions are moving towards virtual options.
I can tell you with confidence that Virtual Classroom is here to stay and more educators will move to virtual classrooms even after the pandemic has ended.
Share your questions and opinions in the comments section.