[E-Learning Punk] Virtual Classroom
E-Learning Punk

Rock 'n' roll in the virtual classroom

Let blackboard and teacher's desk shine in new splendour

Virtual lessons are booming. The reason couldn’t be more obvious. Hardly an article out there manages to get around the topic of corona. It pays to remember though that online classrooms offer a range of benefits beyond the crisis. Lugging around heavy textbooks is not the only thing the digital sphere has made redundant. Flexible teaching and learning independent of location, joining lessons from anywhere in the world, acquiring digital competences as you go are all notable advantages of virtual lessons. So much so, that we feel compelled to take a closer look at the topic of “virtual classrooms” in this edition of E-Learning Punk. After all, digital teaching deserves a little extra opulence and glamour.

What is a virtual classroom?

The term implies synchronous, digital lessons. You could say that “live” e-learning is taking place in the virtual classroom. This means that instructors and course participants are in a shared digital room where they all hear, see and experience the same – just as they would in a real room. In contrast to a webinar where participants primarily listen, a virtual classroom allows active participation in the lesson. The focus is on sharing and learning together.
FUNCTIONS

How does the virtual classroom work?

Various functionalities simulate optimal student-instructor interactions in the “virtual classroom”. We summarised the top 5 for you:
Icon representing real-time communication

Real-time communication

Thanks to video and audio functions, lesson participants can see and hear their instructors, and communicate with them in real-time. The virtual classroom facilitates exchange the same as a real classroom does.

Icon representing interactive

Interactive whiteboard

Interactive whiteboardThis is equivalent to working with a whiteboard, blackboard or presentation board. Students and instructors can use this tool to create and edit content together – just like in a real classroom. The collaboration is key here. It boosts the sense of community despite the physical separation.

Icon representing hand raising

Virtual “hand raising”

By clicking on the virtual show of hands, a student indicates – as they would in a real classroom – that they have something to say or would like to ask a question. The instructor sees this and can let the student speak.

Icon representing virtual rooms

Group rooms

Small group settings encourage a particularly intensive exchange and allow different issues to be examined in parallel. In the digital world, participants can be split up into smaller working groups by using “breakout rooms”.

Icon representing feedback

Additional communication options

For the digital world, this final point is the cherry on top: Additional functionalities like anonymous surveys encourage more honest feedback than you would receive at face-to-face events. Chats particularly help more reserved course participants.

TIPS & TRICKS

What should I pay attention to in the virtual classroom?

Many people are only discovering this whole new world of digital conferences and virtual lessons right now. Time and again, we hear about video calls in pyjamas, involuntary sideshows and embarrassing background motifs. While proper attire and a quiet environment should be obvious, we compiled three additional aspects you should ensure in the virtual classroom:

Icon representing instructors

Well-trained instructors

It is important that instructors familiarise themselves with the functionalities of the “virtual classroom” tools before the first lesson. They need to know where to find what they need when live and be able to keep an eye on the chat at the same time.

Icon representing preparation

Preparation

The course participants also need to be prepared for the new situation. Providing a technical support phone number and communication rules in advance will prove helpful.

Icon representing didactic

Didactic structure

A teaching concept and course materials tailored to the virtual sphere will come up trumps. It may help to schedule an introductory session to overcome digital anonymity. Available interactivity options should be utilised to the fullest throughout the entire lesson.

SOFTWARE

Which providers offer virtual classrooms?

There are various virtual classroom providers – ranging from freeware to comprehensive professional versions, depending on the required range of functionalities and the preferred focus. Let us introduce three popular professional providers:

Zoom: especially in English-speaking countries widely used. Around 96% of the leading US universities choose Zoom for their virtual and hybrid classrooms. If you would like to try Zoom: Meetings lasting up to 40 minutes with a maximum of 100 participants can be held free of charge.

 

Adobe Connect: flexible, multimedia web communications and collaboration system that lets you create, hold and manage e-learning courses, online training courses and virtual seminars.

 

Vitero: emerged as spin-off from the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO). The highlight: The user interface of the virtual classroom is based on the real world, representing a conference room where all participants are seated around the central workspace.

Directly integrating the virtual classroom into a learning management system (LMS) will help you facilitate a holistic virtual teaching and learning experience. This way, the virtual room can be booked directly via the LMS and participants can enter from the LMS. The LMS allows transparent tracking of attendance and learning successes. Vitero, for instance, can be integrated seamlessly into the imc Learning Suite.

 


That is why we’ll be speaking to Vitero in our next Punky Talk, and find out their tips for adding opulence and glamour to the virtual classroom.

The trends of the education rebellion

E-Learning Punk is an article and talk series for all L&D Pros who want to dare something and believe that digital training has to be colourful and loud.

Contact person

Since 2014 I have been part of the marketing & communication team at imc. My heart beats for creative campaigns, exciting content and digital innovations. My goal is to make digital topics understandable and simple to the point. My passions besides my job are good books and sports.
I am always happy to receive feedback on the series at vanessa.klein@im-c.com.
Photo of Vanessa Klein
Vanessa Klein
Senior Event and Communication Manager