Managing Virtual Classrooms to Help People Learn Remotely

Think of a virtual classroom as a traditional classroom, except you immerse yourself in the school through a computer or mobile device. Virtual classrooms share most features and benefits of the brick-and-mortar classroom.

However, the virtual classroom, by design, promotes student engagement and group collaboration. Use virtual classrooms as the primary source of instruction or use it as a supplement to the traditional classroom. 

Don’t confuse online learning, distance learning, eLearning, mobile learning, and classroom learning with virtual classroom learning. The virtual classroom experience may use many educational tools, including eLearning or pre-recorded content.

Virtual classrooms aim to simulate the traditional classroom experience and use tools to make the experience more interactive. Teachers interact with their students. Students collaborate with their classmates.  

One of the main benefits of virtual classrooms is the flexibility it offers. Instructors can pre-record sessions. The use of digital whiteboards simulates the traditional classroom. Students can ‘virtually’ raise their hand and still be able to contribute to group discussions.

Once an instructor becomes accustomed to the virtual classroom, they quickly see how much flexibility they have when teaching. Various studies show that virtual classroom instruction is becoming the most requested and delivered model, although other studies indicate the opposite, especially for young learners. 

Managing Virtual Classrooms 

The population of virtual classrooms is growing, especially since the pandemic. However, a thriving virtual classroom environment’s critical element is the learning experience’s instructional design and your virtual classroom software features.  

If your learners primarily access virtual classes from home, they mainly need an internet connection, computer, or mobile device. Ensure your learning management platform integrates with popular virtual or webinar software such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. 

Instructional designers increasingly use blended learning accompanied by a workbook and PowePoint presentations. Virtual classrooms work well with a blended approach. Also, video, assessments, and social learning add interactivity to enhance the learning experience. 

The inventor of the geodesic dome, J Buckminster Fuller, once said, “If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.” He would enjoy the virtual classroom if he were alive, as he had a love of learning. 

Are the Lines Blurring Between the Traditional Classroom and Virtual Classroom 

The following are ‘pros’ of classroom learning from a training provider,  Balance Global. Notice how the yes responses increasingly hold true for virtual classes and consider the additional features that cannot be replicated. The original article compared classroom versus eLearning. 

 Traditional Classroom Virtual Classroom eLearning 
The Human Touch Yes Yes, if not recorded No 
Immediate Feedback Yes Yes, if not recorded No 
Interaction with other learners Yes Yes, if not recorded No 
Catering for different learning styles Yes Yes No 
More scope for varied exercises Yes Yes No 
Focus/removal of distractions Yes No No 
Team Building Yes Yes, with instructor help No 
Tailored Training Yes Yes No 

What to Look for in a Virtual Classroom 

There are various factors to consider to ensure virtual classrooms work. Some technologies and functionality are nice to have and increase learner user experiences, but a no-frills virtual classroom can still be effective. The instructional design, once again, is key to its success. The Instancy Learning Platform consists of five software modules, all built with the learner and instructor in mind. However, some of our critical components include:

1. Comprehensive communication system, including messaging, and voice chat

2. Video Streaming / Conferencing is as close to a live, in-person situation as possible

3. Ability to share files as instructors must have adequate resources to share work and students to submit their work

4. The ability of the student to ‘raise their hand’ during the live course or event

5. Digital Whiteboard – the whiteboard is an integral part of the learning experience, no matter how the course is delivered

6. Group discussion facilities and virtual meeting rooms – in some cases, it may even be a mini virtual classroom itself to facilitate meaningful group communication

7. Easy integration of third-party tools and plug-ins

A person standing in a room

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Instancy Virtual Classroom Event Management System 

Create and manage webinars and virtual classes from within Instancy Learning Management System (iLMS). Add powerful Zoom, GoToMeeting, or GoToTraining (by Citrix) web conferencing capability to events created within iLMS. Conduct live, interactive meetings and presentations and share your desktop with your students. Increase course completion rates by combining eLearning with virtual classrooms. 

Your authors can schedule virtual classrooms from the same content-authoring system where they create eLearning courses and manage media, documents, and quizzes. Instructors can view student enrollment and mark attendance. Students can enroll, view, and track their progress. 

Training Administrators can view student participation and progress reports for stand-alone and blended learning programs in a single place. Assign certificates or gamify (create game-like learning incentives) your virtual classroom programs with Instancy Learning Management System. 

Create webinars and virtual classes from within Instancy LMS without having to sign into multiple applications. You can schedule your webinar, assign instructors, and create presenter and participant URLs. Registered users can launch the webinar directly from the Instancy LMS web interface. 

Publish webinar events to the catalog for the users to search, view, and enroll. Use the eCommerce feature to sell your courses. Create webinar events with a waitlist option. Approve the waitlisted registrants automatically if any confirmed users cancel their enrollments. 

Share your presentations, desktop screen, and videos online with the attendees. Share keyboard and mouse interactions and enable attendees to make changes to shared documents. Increase participation by using built-in drawing and screen highlighting tools. 

Record a webinar with all the screen-share activities you used during the event. The recorded webinar can be auto-published into the LMS catalog after initial viewing by people who could not attend the live event. You can even monetize the recorded session. 

Conclusion 

Think of a world where we learn through our everyday lives. When we travel, we can study as we go. Study science at famous science museums. Find our comfortable space at home, where we focus on the topic we choose. At Instancy, we’re excited about that future. Won’t you join us? 

Instructional Design for Higher Education

As current events dramatically change how we live, think, and learn, course design becomes front and center on the minds of academia. ‘We already teach online’ or ‘We have a complete curriculum plan’ are words heard today. What most fail to think about is the number one most important task: 

Never Try to Migrate a Classroom Course Online Without a Detailed Plan 

Assuming you have a curriculum plan, course plan, or lesson plan, go back and review it carefully. Think about the reading portion first.

Does the textbook publisher have adjunct online components available?

If so, look at how online content can add value to the course. Become familiar with the content and list the areas of difference between the textbook and online source.

Now, if you do not have the online resources, how can you add interactivity to the textbook information? 

Next, look at any other media you can include in the course. Are there any web links the students can go to for more information or enhanced study? Students love to move around, watching videos. PowerPoint slides done well, simulations, case studies, and interactive group discussions. How do you do that now in the classroom? Are there labs or exercises you can recreate from the classroom to virtual? 

If your course is a lecture course, you have different challenges. Lecture courses can be easier to move to an online setting, but you still want to keep the students motivated and attentive.

If you draw on a whiteboard while lecturing, you can replicate that using drawing tools within the video-based distance learning software, such as Zoom. 

Some instructors videotape their traditional classroom presentations, edit them into smaller segments, and use those as part of the course.  

Online learning technology allows for flexibility when designing and delivering an excellent student experience. 

Enterprise Learning Management Systems Have One or More of the Following: 

  1. Learning portals and sub-portals 
  2. Blended learning capabilities 
  3. Classroom management 
  4. Virtual classroom management 
  5. Social learning 
  6. Competency and professional development 
  7. Learning administration, reports, and analytics 
  8. eLearning 
  9. Gamification 
  10. Mobile learning 
  11. Learning content management system 
  12. Web-based eLearning authoring tools 
  13. PowerPoint to the eLearning conversion tool 
  14. Storyboard conversion tool 
  15. Online assessments and surveys 
  16. Online test preparation 
  17. Learning record store 
  18. eCommerce and Internet marketing system 
  19. Easy ability to accept add-ons and third-party integrations 

Those Who have Successful Online Migration Experiences do so with the Help of their learning management system Tools and Capabilities. 

If you do not have the necessary tools to provide your students with a robust, interactive experience, it is time to rethink your approach.

Can it be accomplished without the help of technology? Yes, you can use tools most organizations use daily such as PDF and PowerPoint. You can take your traditional class content and simply allow students to view them online. However, neither you nor your students will be happy with the results. Being an instructor in today’s environment takes planning, the unique creation of content, and engaging delivery.  

Instancy wants you to take your subject matter expertise and use that knowledge to deliver a top-notch educational experience. Do you want to learn more about how you can do that? Whether you are looking for a new technology platform or you want to discuss your instructional design approach, we are here to help you!

Our founder, Harvey Singh, built the Instancy Learning Platform with educational technology in mind. He began his career as a graduate of Stanford in Education Technology. Our team lives and breathes education and design daily. We are here to help!