What is a Virtual Classroom?
As we already said, the purpose of incorporating virtual classroom in training and development programs is to eliminate the limitations posed by learners being present at distant geographical locations. In addition to that, a virtual classroom setup reduces travel expenses. Also, for facilitators (educational institutes and organizations), it cuts down the cost of arranging classroom and various other learning facilities.
Do you know that a virtual classroom takes almost 60% less time than learning the same material in a traditional classroom? This reflects that your learners can have a lot more time to actually apply the learned concepts in the real world outside the virtual classroom.
The Importance and Growing Need for Virtual Learning
Have you ever experienced assembling newly bought furniture, following the printed instructions? If yes, you probably know the confusion and frustration that results from being explained a complex procedure through just one medium. But fortunately, in this technological era, training doesn’t have to be like that.
Virtual classroom allows you to bring more variation and flexibility in your learning course. A virtual classroom is becoming a growing need and a preferred learning solution because even organizations are now implementing specialized techniques in terms of virtual facilitation and instructional design.
These learning trends are shifting towards bringing in more mobility, globalization and social networking in their virtual classroom design which eventually improves their learning experience.
Virtual Classrooms and the Modern Learning Environment
How does virtual learning meet the formal learning needs and fits into an advanced learning environment? Well, that is simple. No matter if you are offering a virtual classroom to learners or employees, it still addresses all the aspects of formal learning.
These may include scheduled, formal, and evaluated learning patterns. A virtual classroom allows people to come along as coaches, peers, facilitators and even learners with specific goals in a formal yet virtual space.
In addition to that, a virtual classroom offers and encourages a much deeper understanding, and learning through practice, discussion and collaboration. For this, you may use various tools such as podcast, video, interactive simulations and other modern tools. On the other hand, when we talk about modernizing the virtual classroom, we don’t refer to technological advancements to create a better learning experience. This is just one aspect of virtual learning; we should focus more on learning environments and experiences. After all, the overall learning and teaching fundamentally involve people and that is exactly what our focus should be.
Nonetheless, this is more about developing a comprehensive learning experience which takes the learner away from the point and clicks approach. To create a modern learning experience, facilitators play a crucial role in establishing relationships and engaging learners.
To make this possible, a virtual instructor must:
- Establish deeper connections amongst learners and with a student in that virtual environment.
- Gain skills and competent behaviors that are required for success.
- Ensure to be willing, ready and enabled to carry out a virtual lesson.
- Keep the targeted audience both engaged and active throughout the learning experience.
Why should you opt for a virtual classroom?
Virtual classrooms offer countless opportunities for adaptive learning to the learners as well as facilitators. When you opt for a virtual classroom, you can easily reach a large audience at a global level and just in a fraction of the time. With that, there is no need to travel to the classroom, bear travel costs and travel prohibitively long distances.
To be more specific, a virtual classroom offers the following benefits to participants: A Flexible, Affordable and Non-Restricting Learning Environment
A virtual classroom is not about writing down notes. Instead, it enables students to record the provided information as it happens. With that, learners can easily access all the visual and audio presentations. To be precise, the content remains accessible even after it has been delivered and a student can have a quick refresher if he/she fails to fully comprehend it the first time.
All of these facilities can be availed at a very low cost and this is one of the most common and major advantages of a virtual classroom. As stated earlier, all a participant needs to get the best of a virtual classroom is a good internet connection.
The idea of the virtual classroom, as it takes up modern learning preferences, allows participants to have a strong connection with other participants and even facilitators all around the globe. They can easily interact in live classes along with direct participation and collaboration.
Boost learners’ Engagement
Many companies and educational institutions are now incorporating virtual classrooms with their online learning technology. For this, these institutions are now using virtual classroom software and other tools to offer an interactive and effective training module for their learners worldwide.
With all these technological advancements and globally shifting learning platforms, ensuring learners’ engagement is not an easy task. That is why many institutions are now making the most of online learning technology to boost their learners’ motivation. From the beginning of the introduction of virtual classes, there has been a much technological advancement in this regard, which has improved and given rise to this virtual learning platform – significantly.
Immediate feedback and improved digital skills
As you take up a virtual classroom, you don’t need to wait for days in order to get your results or performance reviews. You get your scores or performance evaluation as soon as you finish your test so that you can instantly review the areas where you are performing well and the ones in which you need to improve further. Similarly, you can interact with your facilitator in a private window and get the feedback right away and in real time.
With that, another advantage of taking up a virtual classroom is that along with improving your skills and knowledge through learning material, you also hone your digital skills – that too with modern and sophisticated learning technology.
As you explore the online learning world and gain online learning experience, you will come across numerous digital tools. These may include drop boxes, online tests, collaboration tools, email communication tools and others that not only help in communicating with faculty and fellow learners, but also make you highly productive and confident to use these digital tools.
These are some of the most obvious advantages of opting for a virtual classroom when compared to old in-class education. A virtual class offers different advantages for both the targeted audience and facilitators. Nonetheless, a virtual classroom offers both social and intellectual partnership, coupled with latest technologies that facilitate communication and information delivery!
The Limitation of a Virtual Classroom
Virtual learning has a lot of benefits to offer but unfortunately, there are some disadvantages as well. Certainly, disadvantages are not as many as the advantages, but there are indeed some aspects of the virtual classroom that some participants might take as shortcomings.
Higher Internet Cost
If participants have to incur a high cost to get the required internet facility, a virtual classroom may look like a not-so-promising option for training and development. Eventually, the student will be discouraged to spend so much just to have access to the course or the classroom. Similarly, the institutions that offer their learners’ with the internet facility, they have to make sure that their learning platform is accessible at all times and without facing any problems in terms of slow or interrupted internet connection, page loading or downloading speed etc. For this they need to have a proper back-end IT support personnel to keep the virtual classrooms up and running at all times.
As you opt to go with a virtual classroom, regardless being a facilitator or a student, you might come across some infrastructural challenges. To establish a virtual classroom, there is a need to adopt the latest technology and a good network infrastructure in order to support the heavy traffic. Even though with the growing demand and adaptability of virtual classes, we now do have many affordable and reliable solutions, the installation cost of these infrastructures might still be high and some of the organizations or institutions might not prefer to afford it.
The Need For Digital Training
Another limitation of the virtual classroom is the additional digital training that is required to fully comprehend the virtual learning. Some of the facilitators and learners do not hold adequate knowledge in terms of using the provided eLearning tools. They face problems in understanding and acquiring these tools. For instance, a facilitator might save problem in creating learning material in the soft copy without additional support from a tech-savvy assistant.
While these are a few demerits of opting for a virtual classroom, no doubt they are easily outweighed by the great benefits that come with virtual learning. However, the key to successfully leveraging all the benefits of virtual learning is to go with a virtual classroom which is backed up by a good learning management system.
Virtual Classrooms and a Look into the Future
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, there has been a lot of progress in the way we are utilizing the electronic media.
As we crossed the barriers of high-cost technology integration and lack of speedy internet networks, many modern businesses and educational institutions decided to fully incorporate eLearning through a virtual classroom to facilitate students and employees in terms of L&D (learning and development).
To give you an example, the groundbreaking modern technology of 3D hologram is supporting eLearning platforms like never before. While this still has a lot of space for improvement and full integration, this creative innovation is now changing the course of online education. It provides all the participants a semblance of the formal classroom regardless of wherever they are in the world, offering them a more lifelike experience.
Just a few years ago, who would have imagined having field trips just by sitting in a classroom but organizations like Google have now made it possible with their virtual reality system. These technological advancements are now changing educational platforms and making them independent of physical location and time.
All of this and even more is coming in the near future. The future will create a classroom scenario using an eLearning framework with exceptional accuracy which will make participants forget about their actual presence and the long distance between them and the instructor. By now, virtual classrooms have already stepped into the learning world and gradually it will completely take over the online education market, enabling better audio-visual interactions between participants.
In the Nutshell
Virtual classrooms have offered flexible accessibility and many new ways of interactions for both teachers and students. More and more institutions and students are now embracing this new online educational platform – a virtual teaching which indicates the effectiveness of these media forms. With virtual classroom trend evolving like never before, these modern classrooms are surely staying for long and who knows when they will permanently replace the traditional four-walled classrooms.
Similarly, in a business setup, it will be a lot more interesting to experience all of these new ways that a business would incorporate and collaborate to get more innovative with their employees’ learning and development models.
Nonetheless, our paradigm of education is growing with a lot more technological tools than before. These advancements are surpassing the traditional and physical boundaries and opening a totally new world of interactive learning. After all, the applications of virtual learning are endless!