WHAT IS A VIRTUAL CLASSROOM?
A VIRTUAL CLASSROOM is a video conferencing tool where instructors and participants engage with each other and with the learning material. The difference with other video conferencing tools is that VIRTUAL CLASSROOM offer an added set of features that are essential to a learning environment.
TYPES OF VIRTUAL CLASSROOMS THAT YOU SHOULD CONSIDER
Virtual classrooms are online modules, which gives every participant a chance of communicating, sharing videos, and interact with each other. You can either access the lessons through virtual classroom app or a website. Every student and tutor has to log in to meet at the learning environment. For a better learning environment, students will have to use virtual classroom tools such as Skype to make sure communication is effective. The following details include different types of virtual classrooms that you can consider.
- Enriched virtual classroom
- Rotation model
- Fully virtual classroom
- Flex virtual classroom
This type of model permits every student to carry out most of their online projects at home. However, the students can have a one-on-one session with their tutors. You do not have to attend the class on a daily basis. You may attend some lessons for two days of the week depending on your time schedule. This platform transforms the experience of many students out there through the online learning method. Tutorroom is a good example of the enriched virtual classroom. This is a platform, which offers a good tutoring management. It can also sell and supply virtual classroom app to any company that needs to customize their needs. It can be thoughtful to consider this platform because it provides a perfect base where you may select features, which may be convenient for you. The models of TutorRoom comprise of whiteboard tools, PDF uploads, messaging, and videos among others. You can always create a free account with TutorRoom and you will see how great it is. You can depend on their credibility because they can handle every virtual classroom project without applying any effort. The following are benefits, which you may get from considering TutorRoom business.
(a) You can access the coursework anytime regardless of your location. Immediately you sign up with the Tutorroom, you can access everything that you want including the faculty presentations, student discussions, and assignments among others.
(b) Time management is effective. You will always have a comfortable and welcoming environment, which you can work with. This will help you to balance your schoolwork with the family business. It doesn’t demand a lot from you. All you need to do is organize yourself properly and install a virtual classroom app to enjoy all the benefits.
This involves a single subject, which all the students can be part of. It is a common model, which falls under blended learning. The students will rotate or stick to a single schedule with or without the discretion of teachers. Most of the time, students will rotate during a group discussion. It has different kinds of models; they include.
(a) Lab rotation – In this kind of model, students carry out their lessons in one of the computer labs instead of a classroom.
(b) Individual rotation – The individual will rotate depending on his or her learning requirements. In this case, a tutor will not determine the rotation of this student.
(c) Station rotation – Students use a virtual classroom app to carry out their projects. They can take part in reading stories, reviewing their skills, and administer their assessments among others.
It is a model that aims at researching, conceptualizing, and designing. All the schoolwork should be done online; hence, it means, students will never meet up with others to have an interactive session. However, they can communicate through a synchronized virtual classroom app. A good example of this type of classroom includes SJSU. The following are benefits that you can outsource from this type of school.
(a) Technology is the root of everything. This means you will learn how to adapt to new advancements and technologies, which can help you in the learning environment.
(b) The school focuses on the welfare of every student. The faculties, which make use of this model puts all their efforts and energy to make sure their students are getting the best.
(c) You will benefit from the school’s resources including career counseling and support team among others.
This a model that focuses on teaching the learners, who are non-traditional. In this platform, instructions, as well as learning materials, are provided. Tutors are always available and students can come up with new concepts independently. This method of teaching offers its learners a flexible environment for learning. The students can always leave and attend the classroom anytime they want. Here are the benefits of considering the flex model.
(a) Students can learn anytime they want.
(b) Joining the school is affordable.
FUNCTIONS OF A VIRTUAL CLASSROOM
Virtual classroom software enables instructors to:
- moderate student participation
- display learning materials in the form of documents, slide decks, or multimedia files
- enrich the learning experience with screen-sharing and virtual whiteboard features
- divide the participants into breakout rooms, which the instructor can join
- engage the participants with polls and quizzes
- record the sessions (and manage those recordings)
A virtual classroom platform helps make the learning experience interactive and engaging while providing a controlled environment. But virtual classrooms also offer features that reach beyond the in-class experience. Instructors can access the classroom prior to the lesson to prepare the material. This material, as well as the session recording, is available after class, for reference for instructors and participants alike.
Participants can connect to virtual classroom platforms from any device that can connect to the Internet. This type of flexibility enables participants to consume content, regardless of their location across the globe.
Another major benefit of virtual classroom software is that it facilitates student progress tracking. Instructors can consult data such as class attendance and student activity. They can track a participant’s progress via online polls and analytics, identify areas of difficulty, and help the participant learn challenging subject matter with visual tools.
Lastly, many virtual classroom platforms can be integrated within the school’s or company’s established learning management system (LMS). Advanced platforms support Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) so that the virtual classroom system and the LMS can communicate with each other, making the whole greater than the sum of its parts.
FEATURES OF A VIRTUAL CLASSROOM
Top features of virtual classroom solution to help students engage and learn better
Schools and educational institutes across the world are adopting and adapting to virtual online classes. One of the most significant considerations for schools and educational institutes while selecting a virtual classroom solution are the features offered by the various platforms.
“What virtual classroom solution will enable my students to learn most effectively?”
“What platform offers the best features that simplify the teaching process for my teachers?”
“Which virtual classroom software has the best features will meet the various needs of all my students, without being too intimidating for teaching and learning?”
These are essential questions that every school management team ponders over when deciding on the best virtual classroom solution.
We have compiled a list of some of the best features that are a must-have for every online classroom to be effective and help the students learn in the best possible manner:
- Compatible Across Devices
Students and teachers engaging from home will access an array of devices. While some students will be able to use the latest smartphones and tablets, others will use older laptops and computers. Hence the virtual classroom solution must be compatible across all devices and on all platforms including Android, iOS and Windows.
- HD And Live Video Streaming Capability
Learning online or in the virtual classroom is not merely offering the students recorded videos and prerecorded lectures. The best way to stimulate a traditional classroom is to allow the teachers to live-stream their lectures in a way that the students can see the teacher and vice versa in real-time. Real-time video and audio streaming give a real look and feel to virtual classrooms. Here students can use the web camera and the microphone to interact with the teacher and clear their doubts. Live-streaming of the classroom lecture will help the teachers understand how the students will are understanding the concepts being taught.
- Grid View
The grid view feature of a virtual classroom solution allows the students and teachers to view each other on one centralized screen. This enables the teachers to view the students all at once and evaluate their response to the teachings, as they would in a traditional classroom, with no extra visual distraction.
Another important feature for the virtual classroom is the security and the ability to ensure that no outsiders can join the session. It is therefore essential that all users be authenticated before joining a virtual classroom. This can be done through passwords and private meeting links. Additionally, students and teachers should have access to the class content such as subjects, assignments, exams etc. According to their authorization privileges. Also, any communication that reveals personal information of the teachers or the students should be encrypted.
- Screen Sharing and Live Presentations
Screen sharing and live presentations allow the teachers to share their on-screen activity in real-time with all participants in the virtual classroom. With the help of the share screen feature, the teachers can physically demonstrate activities and concepts to the students. This facilitates problem-solving capabilities and enhances the learning of the students.
- Controls for Meeting Hosts
Irrespective of whether it is a traditional classroom or a new virtual classroom, it is essential for the teacher to manage the class effectively as a poorly managed class can break the learning experience. In a virtual classroom, an essential feature is the ability to restrict access to functionality when needed. This will prevent the students from talking over one another and facilitate engagement and learning. Some functions that can help manage the class are muting participants, hand-raising, and the ability to turn functions and features on and off for either one student or for the entire class.
- Interactive Digital Whiteboard and Other collaborative tools
A digital white can be compared to a traditional marker board or chalkboard in the classroom. The teachers can use to teach using equations or diagrams. But in the virtual classroom, the interactive digital whiteboard has a broader scope. It serves as a virtual collaboration tool where participants can draw, sketch, and write together to share thoughts, ideas and conclusion. The digital whiteboard is available to all participants in the classroom, and they are a great way to keep the learners engaged and help them collaborate.
- Communication tools such as group chats and break out rooms
Collaboration is essential to help learners stay engaged and interested in the classroom. Tools like group chats, group messaging and breakout rooms help the students stay connected with their peers and help initiate the feeling on an actual classroom collaboration. These tools help the teacher divide the class into groups and assign individual and group tasks.
- Recorded and Archived lessons
Online sessions can be recorded and archived for students to revisit the lessons as needed. These also help the students who were absent to catch up on class.
- Cloud Storage and Backup
Cloud storage solutions are an excellent aid for teachers who want to store their classroom data and access it from any location. It also helps teachers to store and distribute the study among many students. Students too can access their class data, assessments from any location of their choice.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF A VIRTUAL CLASSROOM
Advantages Of Virtual Classroom:
As you can already observe, computers have entered almost every sector in the world and education is no exception. Virtual learning or online virtual classrooms are more flexible where the learner is not restricted to a single class and can study anytime and anywhere.
You save multiple precious hours and a ton of money by learning online at the comfort of your living room. Live virtual classes save the commute’s time and money as there is no need to step out of the house to go to the school/college to learn. Also, study at a specified time and manage all the other chores of your home without any trouble.
2. Increased Convenience
Virtual learning is flexible, and there are no restrictions on getting late to the class or missing out on lectures, etc. With fewer limitations and more ease, learners can complete their respective courses taking their own sweet time and whenever it is feasible for them. It also helps them in absorbing class content efficiently, complete their assignments with focus, take exams/tests at the time which suits them best.
3. Sharpen Digital Skills
Many people find the sharpening of one’s digital skills quite impressive. The learner not only learns the subjects/courses online but also keeps learning how to be a pro in using digital platforms. It helps develop skills and increase knowledge in the area of study.
4. Super Affordable
Virtual learning saves money for both the parties, i.e., for the student and the organization. The cost to set up a class with necessary amenities is not of any concern when teaching goes digital. Similarly, for the students, money is saved when they do not need to go to the organization to study.
5. Immediate Test & Exam Results
Instant feedback is one of the most significant benefits of the virtual classroom. The time that is taken to receive results after the online exams is reduced, and one can get to take a look at their performance results much earlier.
Disadvantages Of Virtual Classroom:
When there are advantages, there are disadvantages of virtual classrooms too. Let us take a look at them.
1. Infrastructural Challenges
Initially, there is a lot of expenditure to set up online classes. The infrastructure needs an upgrade to support the new tech. And in many cases, a lacking infrastructure forms a hurdle in supporting live virtual classes.
2. Extra Training
When using new tech, it is essential to know about it first. There are very few students and trainers who are well versed with the whole process. There are fewer chances of technical issues if the trainer or the student know how to troubleshoot them. Also, few teachers find it challenging to prepare soft copies of the lectures/notes. Hence there is always a need to have IT support that trains teachers and students time and again.
3. Lack Of Social & Emotional Skills
Since the classes take place over the Internet there isn’t much interaction or face-to-face communication among the students. Hence one can observe that there is a loss of social and emotional skills in the child.
4. Physical Activity Is Compromised
When at school, students move around, play, run and do all kinds of activities that keep them fit. The PT classes, sports, dance, etc., help them to be physically active. Online learning reduces their activity and leaves them confined to their desk and laptop, just staring at the screen to learn what they have signed up for.
5. Effects Of Excess Screen Time On Students
We all know how the blue light of these screens is damaging to a large extent. Constantly staring at the screen damages eyes and may lead to many problems in the future. Regular breaks are advised when using laptop/phone screens.
6. Reduced Personal Interaction Between Teacher & Students:
With the teaching going digital, there is no physical approach in having a brainstorming or a Q&A session between teachers and students. The essence of a physical classroom is lost with the advent of technology and digital classes.
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