Why Create an Online Virtual Classroom?
Instructional Design

Why Create an Online Virtual Classroom?

Designing and delivering instructor-led training webinars and courses in an online environment is sometimes more of a necessity than a luxury. Re-creating the traditional set-up in the eLearning format is not a challenge anymore. Thanks to the plethora of educational technology tools available, eLearning developers can quickly create a virtual classroom.

The question is, why should you create a virtual classroom?

Benefits of Creating a Virtual Classroom System

Ever since the concept of Human Computer Interaction has come to the limelight, all things virtual have become increasingly important. Virtual worlds, virtual environments and virtual classrooms are suddenly the focus of all Internet technology design. The idea is to create human performance solutions that are ergonomic to the human brain. Now, this is a far-fetched statement but it really is happening all over the world.

Software engineers and user experience (UX) designers are trying to inch the daily technology solutions closer to the way that humans access and use it. This includes, but is not limited to, modifying or developing technology that functions like a human being and even out-performs human beings.

We may be talking about space sciences or a small classroom in an urban school – virtual technologies are leading us to make valuable mistakes in a relatively safer environment.

The result? A more time and cost-effective solution that trains amateurs towards mastery at record-breaking pace. Now that is something truly worth our time and budget.

eLearning Virtual Classroom Technology (LMS)

In the eLearning environment, an eLearning course is essentially a virtual classroom. The classroom occurs in a virtual space. We see a personal portal that displays our preferences and settings. We are notified of what others are doing or what is expected of us. We understand our learning responsibilities and can reasonably expect the learning programs that are upcoming.

Virtual learning environments are also designed to mimic game consoles so that the learner is engaged and motivated by emotional values such as excitement, suspense and even disappointment. Creating such environments requires the training and expertise of an instructional designer and an eLearning developer. A familiar example of a virtual learning environment is the learning management system.

The learning management system is your gateway to the virtual classroom. It enables you to log into your portal and access your learning materials. Learning management systems have also come a long way since the 2000s. They are more gamified and icon-based than the previous text-based screens. This is another example of how developers are bringing daily use tools closer to human usability.

Virtual classroom courses are complete programs of learning. They comprise of sequences of synchronous and asynchronous activities. Live meetings, chats, discussion forums are all synchronous activities, while asynchronous events include independent or group task-works, submitting assignments and emailing the course instructor for additional questions.

Virtual classrooms try to emulate ILT (instructor-led-training) to create a hybrid learning situation. These classrooms are as rigorous and as tough, grading wise, as the traditional classroom. Let’s find out why you need virtual classrooms for some courses and how they enhance the effectiveness of your efforts.

For starters, virtual classrooms require a course mentor who can lead learners through the subject and who can also attend online meetings. Once this basic requirement is met, virtual classroom courses offer the following benefits over independent eLearning courses:

1) Flexibility in learning and improved activity: These courses have the freedom to combine lectures, Q&A sessions, individual and team activities, reading and even online testing. Learners can work directly with peers and gain meaningful feedback from them. Scaffolding on new topics is much quicker and smoother.

2) More disciplined learning community: A strong sense of community and “cohort” feeling is instilled in the group. They engage more actively and take responsibility for their comments and feedback. The group feels a sense of community and moves towards common learning goals. Direct contact with the instructor and peers help keep learning more disciplined and consistent.

3) Virtual classrooms invoke a sense of familiarity: Learners in virtual classrooms are familiar with the requirements and expectations of the course. They find themselves comfortable with the teaching, learning and testing methods.

4) More adaptability for the learners: The instructor monitors the classroom directly and is able to assess the individual needs of each learner and the needs of the group more easily in a virtual classroom. The instructor can address any upcoming concerns and issues more responsively. The content and presentation can also be adapted closely to the learner’s needs.

As a rule of thumb, if you need to teach unstructured and implicit knowledge, you need to create a virtual classroom course. Also, courses that require many discussions and where learners have many questions also require virtual classrooms. If your course needs more interactivity than a simple eLearning program can provide, create a virtual classroom for a more satisfying teaching and learning experience.

Virtual classrooms use collaboration tools to re-create the structure and learning experiences of a physical classroom. Well designed virtual classrooms provide a richer interaction while alleviating the requirement for everyone to be at the same location. Find out if your course needs to be delivered as a virtual classroom.

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