The virtual classroom is just what you think. You attend the class using your computer and a headset equipped with a microphone. As the class takes place in real time, the instructor and all the students attend classes at a given time and date. Students use their virtual hand and chat room to ask questions and interact with the class. The instructor can show presentation, videos and break students into small groups for exercises. Just about anything you do in a traditional classroom you can do in a virtual one. Unless you have unlimited budget, and everyone has all the time available to travel, you will be looking for a means to provide quality training at reasonable cost. Virtual classroom has proven itself to be a strong alternative. Today, multi-location companies are looking for ways to bring together workforce from all over the world, forming global learning communities. Virtual classrooms ensure that training can be uniform across locations.
When designing a blended approach, look at the benefits of each approach and map them to the learning needs. A formal online course may be the best option to introduce brand new information, giving learners the freedom to learn at their own pace, repeat information and process their new knowledge. But after that, what happens if they have unanswered questions? That’s where a virtual classroom comes in. Setting up a virtual classroom for a Q&A session with an expert after the event gives learners time to think of their questions, have a go at putting the knowledge into practice, then return to a supported learning environment to discuss their questions, success and challenges.
Flexibility and Convenience
Virtual learning is very convenient. You can take a class on any computer, anywhere in the world that has access to the Internet and can accommodate a headset and microphone.
Keeps People On-the-job
Most courses are scheduled over many days or weeks and each class only lasts a few hours. Virtual class makes it possible for the people to devote at least part of their day to their regular duties, providing continuity on-the-job, with minimal impact on daily business operations.
Not having to pay for travel, hotels and other costs associated with bringing a team to a single location for a course saves money for the companies.
Bringing teams together
The virtual classroom has additional advantage of bringing geographically dispersed teams together in one place at the same time to ensure a consistent learning experience and explore cultural and other Issues.
Post Class Reinforcement
Another component of a good designed virtual classroom experience is having the ability to review important parts of the course once it is over. Most virtual courses record the classroom and make it available to students to review a short exercise or an entire session on-demand.
On-line Reference Materials
In virtual classroom, students are provided web access to all the materials presented in the course, usually for a year or more after they complete the course. While virtual learning may not be the solution for everyone in every situation, the advances in virtual classroom tools have made it a mainstream reality.
Teaching in virtual classroom is different. Here are some proven practices to help you run a successful virtual classroom session.
Know your Audience
The more you know about your learners the more effective you are going to be at giving them just what they need, define pre-requisites for your training, and if you have the tools and time to do so, verify they have been completed by your audience members.
Create a list of pre-requisites
Provide a pre-test Review test scores
With any new course, more even if you are a new instructor do a practice run of your presentation with at least more than one person. They do not have to sit thru all of the content. Definitely use all the tools and launch all your content and demonstrations, every page of it, at least once in the same order you will do in the classroom. This will build confidence for you.
By yourself, run through each piece of content and each demonstration item in order, speaking using the medium you plan to use in your live class (VoiP or telephony). Record your run-through for self-evaluation and improvement.
Have other people attend, listen, and give feedback after you do your run-through.
Have your attendees interrupt you while you are talking, just as your learners will do it. Record the run through.
Here are some of the features you should look for while selecting a tool for hosting virtual classroom.
Application sharing Document sharing
Whiteboard Integrated audio
Video support Pre-recorded content
Quizzes Learner engagement tracking
Plugin or download required Hosted or local installation
Collaborate face-to-face online with enhanced audio-video quality. The full-screen conference mode ensures improved output and the 5-way audio-video layout with instinctive speaker recognition brings alive the real classroom experience. Enjoy unhindered live classes with low-latency video streaming and unlimited, echo-free audio output for better results. SD (640p) live video streaming is available by default. HD (720p) live video streaming is available in the Enterprise plans.
The automated server-side recording (SSR) works in the background when a class is streaming live. The recording is captured directly on our server, which means it doesn’t consume your device computing resources. As no upload happens from your and your attendees’ devices, delivering and attending classes on devices with low-end CPUs is possible. The recording is available in your Library in MP4 format within minutes of the end of your session. Because the live session is captured on our servers, internet speed of attendees does not impact the recording quality. Multi-bitrate (MBR) streaming adapts live streaming to an attendee’s internet bandwidth and CPU capacity – hence very little buffering even on low-end connections. While SD (640p) recording is a default feature, HD (720p) and full-HD (1080p) video recording capabilities are available in the Enterprise plan.
The interactive whiteboard comes with a full-screen mode, creating a bigger workspace. You can open multiple whiteboards to draw, illustrate, show diagrams, upload presentations, images or even play videos from your library without any hassles. The out-of-the-box advanced geometric shapes and graphs make it easy to teach math and statistics. Circuit diagrams, line diagrams, and apparatus shapes have been included for teaching physics, electrical sciences, and chemistry in a hassle-free manner in an online classroom. The inclusion of maps helps a great deal when teaching geography. You can annotate to explain, illustrate and comment on an existing file or image. You also get the option to choose different colors from the color palette.
Create advanced collaboration opportunities through transferable writing and audio-video controls. The automatic speaker recognition indicates the person speaking or writing in the attendee space. Live text chats allow for real-time, peer-to-peer or peer-to-instructor collaboration without disturbing the ongoing session. While you still control their actions, regular involvement of the attendees leads to higher satisfaction. Perfect for businesses, it helps make virtual training of distributed groups easy and quick, keeping all communication at one place.
Share your device screen with your audience in the whiteboard interface and let them see your actions in real-time. Application sharing makes it possible to share just one application like PPT or Excel open in your laptop. It helps you keep virtual classroom interface distraction-free and keep everyone on the same page. You can also offer remote assistance to the attendees by asking them to share their desktop screen. Live screen sharing is helpful in group collaboration, online demos, and remote support.
Use live polling feature to break the class monotony and improve interaction and engagement. Start your session with icebreaker questions and build a rapport with your audience. You can also use the polling feature to evaluate their understanding before the session or give scenario-based questions to test their progress and increase engagement. It is also an easy way to get instant feedback about the content, speed of the class, or technical issues they’re facing. You can conduct surveys to determine their personalities, interests, opinions and values and optimize your content and teaching style based on the insights.
Upload, organize and store your content in the cloud and access it from anywhere at any time. The integrated library supports all types of files, saving the hassle of transferring and carrying data. Upload text, audio, video, PPT, and HTML files in different formats (PDF, DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, PPT, PPTX, WAV, WMA, MP3, MOV, AVG, MPEG, WMV, MP4, JPEG, GIF, PNG). The virtual storage saves the hassle of transferring and carrying data. It’s easy to search for content and share it with your audience. Also, once a content resource is uploaded to the library, you can reuse it for different classes.
Create and manage time-bound exams with the built-in test maker. You can conduct pre and post class tests to understand a learner’s journey and the knowledge they have acquired during the class. Alongside, insights into student progress help you understand the effectiveness of teaching modalities and take corrective actions. The test-maker supports different question types – true/false, MCQs in various formats – standard, multi-select and matrix table. You can repurpose tests for another session for a different set of the audience if required.
Automate everyday mundane admin tasks and put yourself in a better place. You can schedule live sessions, send customized invitations to attendees, define attendee roles and permissions and extend the class time from one place. Access reports, measure performances and track attendees with a single click. Do away with juggling the Excels, formatting, record keeping and keep everything centrally controlled.
Access reports on learner attendance, login-logout times and session duration to track and analyze learner performance. Aggregate data, compare and correlate to derive information and conclusions. Make data-driven decisions to improve teacher and content performances and learning outcomes.