Virtual Classroom Learning: Educational High-Tech Frontier within Your Reach
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“Virtual” is one of the old terms that the digital technology vernacular has breathed a new life into, coining a new definition for it and making it a buzzword in the internet-reliant world of the early third millennium. Today, it seems that any kind of human activity can earn the moniker of being virtual once it is effected online – from acquaintance and communication to conference and relationships. We even speak of virtual reality, where the borderline between the physical and simulated worlds is blurred not to say vague.
The education industry keeps abreast of state-of-the-art IT developments as well. Being the representatives of the younger tech-savvy generation, school and university students of all ages are the driving force behind the advent of virtual, or e-learning into teaching practices. In order not to stay on the sidelines of the increasingly competitive educational market of the 21st century, high-end teachers take digitalization in its stride, offering their vision of e-learning app features or advising a preferable digital platform to choose for teaching this or that subject.
Among the numerous breakthroughs digitalization has ushered into education, virtual classroom learning is probably the most promising project since with virtual classrooms future can be brought within a palpable distance.
What Is Virtual Classrooms?
The meaning of virtual classroom is pretty transparent – it is a virtual space for online teaching and learning that is used much like a brick-and-mortar learning place. Similar to live classrooms, a lesson in virtual ones takes place in real-time, while teachers and learners interact with each other and students collaborate among themselves.
What makes virtual classrooms future incarnate? The virtual classroom online modus operandi. All stakeholders may be located in various corners of the world, but at the ring of an unseen bell, they get together at a digital platform that enables cooperation and engagement. Of course, teachers may involve pre-recorded content if it suits their educational goals, but the chief emphasis is put on live interaction as the primary virtual classroom online activity.
What are the major features of virtual classroom?
- Video conferencing and recording. To communicate with each other, teachers and students must maintain visual contact via modern digital tools. And if virtual classroom online participants want to refer to the lesson content some time later (especially if it is a lecture or a workshop), a recording on-demand and viewing option must be provided to them. This function can also be utilized by teachers who want to analyze the lesson they delivered and see what elements of it need correcting or fine-tuning.
- Messaging and sub-chatting. Verbal communication behind the scenes is an important supportive activity that facilitates participation and collaboration in such a classroom.
- Virtual whiteboards. Pictures, charts, and diagrams are important elements of any lesson, so there is no reason why virtual classroom learning should be deprived of them.
- Attendance and participation controls. Limiting access to authorized persons only and enabling students to raise their virtual hand or cut off the surrounding noise make UX at virtual classes comfortable and safe.
Virtual Classroom Types
Depending on a combination of various components of the learning process, several types of virtual classrooms are distinguished.
- Exclusively online classroom. In it, everything happens online while offline interaction between participants is absent. Conventionally, it is characterized by mostly synchronous development of events, with sporadic involvement of pre-recorded (usually video) content shown, leveraging online software.
- Enriched virtual classroom. This type is most wide-spread by far when largely online-powered lessons are enhanced with offline meetings. These happen from time to time when teachers and learners come together face-to-face to compare notes and make sure everyone is on the same page. Such meetings are more effective than online communication sessions when it goes about the assessment of a paper, thesis, or a critical assignment.
- Rotation model classroom. In fact, this is a half-virtual classroom since online and offline lessons alternate. Typically, the flipped classroom schedule is construed on a weekly basis, where the core classes are held remotely while for reinforcement and controlling sessions educators and learners meet live.
- Open access classroom. Virtual classroom here is viewed as a convention place that can be accessed by students at their convenience (chiefly when they have some questions requiring clarification). Otherwise, learners are encouraged to work in more wieldy smaller groups where each participant is sure to have a chance of active involvement.
- Mixed type classroom. For such virtual classrooms, future prospects are the brightest ones. Functioning on the a la carte model, it enables a whole gamut of various teaching channels out of which stakeholders can choose whatever suits them best. The choice may be made by the institution that offers educational services or the students themselves, allowing to tweak the course to all virtual classroom expectations. Being exclusively flexible, this type, however, lacks a single backbone structure and is, therefore, harder to set up.
Before opting for a particular virtual classroom model, it is necessary to be aware of the merits and demerits this variety of remote learning brings in its wake.
Pluses and Minuses of Virtual Classroom Scrutinized
Like any new development, virtual classrooms aren’t devoid of some drawbacks. What are the disadvantages of virtual classrooms?
Installation and Training Challenges
Setting up online classes takes substantial investment into infrastructure (upgrade and maintenance included). Besides, both educators and students must learn how to use the equipment, which spells constant IT support this novel technology will require.
The deficit of Emotional Experience
Face-to-face communication always has an edge over media-powered communication, even if the latter is the last word technology-wise. Brainstorming, Q&A sessions and other interactive activities suffer as well, since personal involvement is less genuine here.
Being seated for longish spans staring into a screen does no good to any person’s health. For kids and teenagers, the lack of physical exercise and prolonged sight-straining may have even a more gruesome effect, so virtual classroom activities should involve regular breaks or dynamic games and stretching activities as much as possible.
Whatever shortcomings there might be, they are more than offset by the remarkable advantages of virtual classrooms.
Saving Both Time and Money
You don’t have to go anywhere (thus cutting down on travel time and related expenditures) to learn from the best brains in some field. This is especially important for adult students who can choose a part of the day to be set aside for studying that fits best into their overcrowded schedules. Affordability extends to education providers as well, since with virtual classrooms they don’t have to furnish facilities to accommodate numerous students.
You can set the pace of learning yourself, adjusting the difficulty and the scope of courses you take. Thus, you master the content more efficiently, stay focused on the assignments, and take exams only when you feel you are ready for them.
Whetting Digital and Multi-Tasking Skills
Students learn not only the subject they take but a wide range of digital skills necessary to participate in a virtual classroom. Besides, leveraging voice chat, instant messaging, and other communication media all together, students are introduced to multi-tasking and hone skills of parallel dealing with a variety of know-how. Evidently, enhancing proficiency in several domains simultaneously is a huge perk of this technology.
Involvement of Various Content
At the virtual lesson, teachers can present material in a plethora of forms, such as videos, images, podcasts, interactive games, polls, etc., holding students’ attention and diversifying the channels by which they absorb information.
The flexibility of Student Engagement
Real-time collaboration effected via breakout groups or even pairs gives learners a chance to interact not only with teachers but with fellow students as well. To keep the pot of their interest boiling, an instructor can tailor the lesson to suit the need of the moment or the proficiency level of the specific audience (and even a single student). Through such scalability, a student-centered approach to teaching is easy to implement in a virtual classroom.
Instantaneous Audit Results
Exams and tests taken in digital form are immediately checked and objectively assessed by the respective software, so students get instant feedback to make conclusions as to the efficiency of their training in almost no time.
The Importance of Virtual Classroom in 2021
The enumerated boons of virtual classrooms are quite impressive, turning them into evident reasons to invest in educational apps or any other edtech digital products. But the events of the past year prove that this technology is a godsend in the world afflicted by COVID-19.
With the global pandemic scarcely showing any signs of abatement, humanity increasingly relies on the IT industry to manage our affairs remotely. We have grown accustomed to remote working, shopping, communication, and entertainment. The education industry is no exception, requiring novel approaches that will allow it not only to stay afloat but effectively address the challenges posed by the plague.
Virtual classroom ticks all the boxes enabling it to turn into a powerful tool that will become a lifeline for education in precarious conditions of the virus-ridden planet. It furnishes a safe venue for teachers and learners to interact with educational purposes, utilizes a wide range of media, techniques, and content, and provides flexibility, which is highly appreciated by busy people of today.
Like any serious venture, virtual classrooms need professional expertise for developing, implementing, and support. Multi-Programming Solutions as a seasoned player among IT outsourcers can handle any project in the edtech field and deliver a top-notch product at a reasonable price.
Virtual classrooms are getting serious traction, what with the across-the-board advent of digital technologies and constraints imposed by the global pandemic upon the education industry. Enlisting the services of high-end IT experts you can obtain a first-rate digital edtech product that will become a source of steady income for your company.