Before the emergence of internet technology and virtual classrooms, the acquisition of valuable knowledge usually happened in a designated location such as a school or training facility. And in each of these cases, one had to travel or commute daily from home to the learning centre.
This learning format meant that busy working-class professionals often struggled to take advantage of career advancement courses because of geographic limitations. Given such limitations, the invention of virtual classroom technology has become a dependable solution for people interested in learning across different stages of their lives or careers. In addition, the remote learning format helps students retain between 25% and 60% more information.
Whether you are a lifelong learner, teacher, student or business owner interested in taking advantage of online classrooms, you'll find something helpful from this post.
What is a virtual classroom?
A virtual classroom is an online platform or environment that facilitates remote learning and educational interactions. It replicates many elements of a traditional physical classroom, allowing students and teachers to engage in real-time, with interactive lessons, discussions, and online activities.
In a virtual classroom, participants can see and communicate with each other using video, audio, and chat tools, making it a versatile and accessible mode of education for students of all ages. It often includes features like screen sharing, whiteboards, and file sharing to enhance the learning experience, enabling individuals to connect and learn from anywhere with an internet connection.
Virtual classrooms are commonly used in e-learning and online education settings, providing students with the flexibility to access educational content and engage with instructors without needing a physical presence in a school or traditional classroom.
These digital environments have become increasingly popular, with eLearning becoming one of the fastest growing industries, and it continues to grow rapidly - since the year 2000, the market growth rate has been 900%. This has been amplified more recently during the COVID-19 pandemic, offering an effective means of remote education and collaboration, making learning accessible and adaptable to diverse learning needs and schedules.
Advantages of virtual classroom
Whether you are a student interested in enriching virtual learning or a teacher wanting to take advantage of online education technology, we have highlighted the core benefits of virtual classrooms. Besides the ones highlighted here, you may find other benefits beyond traditional educational systems.
Accessibility and flexibility
Virtual classrooms break down geographical barriers, allowing students to access educational content from anywhere with an internet connection. This accessibility is particularly valuable for learners who live in remote areas, have busy schedules and those with physical disabilities. Students can choose when and where to participate, accommodating diverse learning needs and lifestyles.
Virtual classrooms can significantly reduce educational expenses. There's no need for commuting, physical facilities, or printed materials, leading to cost savings for students and institutions. Additionally, schools can offer a broader range of courses without the overhead costs associated with traditional classrooms.
Remote learning with the virtual classroom also has many carbon-based environmental impact benefits for schools and organisations. A recent study has proven that teaching and learning in higher education institutions uses 90% less energy and 85% fewer CO2 emissions per student compared to campus-based learning.
Personalization and self-paced learning
Virtual classrooms often provide opportunities for personalized learning experiences. Students can progress independently, return to review materials when necessary, and access resources such as quizzes and in-depth discussion forums. This flexibility allows for a tailored approach to education, catering to individual strengths and weaknesses.
Enhanced collaboration and engagement
Virtual online classes promote interactive learning through features like chat and survey tools. They facilitate real-time communication between students and teachers, making it easier to ask questions, participate in discussions, and work on important group projects. With 70% of students agreeing that online classes are better than traditional classroom settings, these tools can boost student engagement and encourage active participation.
Recording and on demand
Virtual classroom sessions are usually recorded, allowing students to focus and revisit lectures, demonstrations, or discussions at their convenience. This class recording feature is precious for review, helping students grasp complex concepts and reinforcing their learning. It also enables institutions to reuse and update course materials, enhancing efficiency and consistency across multiple offerings.
Virtual classroom examples
Webinar platforms: Webinar platforms like Cloudpresenter, Zoom, GoToWebinar, and Cisco Webex are widely used for virtual classrooms, especially in professional development, virtual meetings, and corporate training.
These platforms offer features like screen sharing, chat, breakout rooms, message boards, and interactive tools for hosting live, interactive sessions. Users can present content, conduct Q&A sessions, and engage with participants in a virtual class. These virtual classrooms are commonly used for workshops, seminars, and skill-building sessions, making them valuable tools for businesses and organizations looking to provide remote training and learning opportunities in a digital space.
Learning management systems (LMS): Learning management systems such as Moodle, Blackboard, and Canvas provide comprehensive virtual online learning environments for educational institutions, from K-12 schools to universities. LMS systems offer many features, including course content management, assignment submission, discussion forums, and grade tracking. Instructor-led online learning allows people to create and deliver online courses, upload lecture materials, interact with students, and manage assessments. LMS virtual classrooms are highly customizable, enabling higher institutions to adapt them to their specific curricula and teaching methods.
Massive open online courses (MOOCs): MOOCs like Coursera, edX, and Udemy are large-scale virtual classrooms that offer a wide variety of courses to a global audience. These software tools provide pre-recorded lectures, quizzes, assignments, and discussion forums.
Students can enroll in courses of their choice, study at their own pace, and access course materials from any place. MOOCs are ideal for self-paced learning and lifelong education, and they usually partner with prestigious universities and institutions to offer high-quality educational content to a broad range of learners. While they lack the real-time interactivity of other virtual classrooms, MOOCs provide a scalable and accessible way for individuals to acquire new skills and knowledge.
Examples of virtual classroom activities
Online discussions: Online discussions are a popular virtual classroom activity where students and presenters participate in text-based or multimedia-based conversations.
These discussions can be used for various purposes, such as exploring classroom content, debating topics, sharing perspectives, and collaborating on group projects. They promote critical thinking, communication skills, and knowledge exchange.
Instructors usually set discussion prompts or questions to guide the conversation, and students respond with their thoughts and ideas, creating real time interactions and collaborative learning environment.
Quizzes and assessments: Virtual classrooms incorporate quizzes and assessments that can be taken online. These activities help instructors gauge every student's comprehension and retention of learning material. Examinations can include multiple-choice questions, true-false statements, regular short answer questions, and more. Immediate feedback can be provided to students and classmates, allowing them to identify areas for improvement and reinforcing their understanding of the subject matter.
Collaborative projects: Collaborative projects involve students working hand in hand on shared assignments or tasks within the virtual classroom. Such projects may include group presentations, research projects, or problem-solving activities. Students can collaborate using digital tools such as whiteboards, shared documents, video conferencing, and project management software. These are some of the things that often beat in-person classroom sessions, creating more engaging and memorable experiences.
Collaborative projects promote teamwork, communication, and the application of knowledge in real-world scenarios. Depending on the software you choose, you can also use social media live streaming integrations to engage people in such projects and make them feel engaged from start to finish.
Virtual labs and simulations: In subjects like science and engineering, virtual labs and simulations provide students with hands-on experiences in a virtual environment. These activities allow students to conduct experiments or simulations online, exploring concepts and phenomena that would be challenging to replicate in a traditional classroom. Virtual labs and simulations can help students develop practical skills, apply scientific principles, and gain a deeper understanding of complex concepts.
Best virtual classroom software
- Adobe connect
- Top hat
- Digital samba
- Google meet
Enrollment in online learning platforms has risen consistently every year in the last decade, and contrary to what some people think, taking advantage of virtual classroom technology doesn't have to cost big money. With platforms like Cloudpresenter, the free plan can get you started and provide an opportunity to experience virtual learning at its best.
As more and more students transition to online learning platforms, whether it’s graduate students or adult learners looking to upskill and further their career, it is now more than ever that seems to be the time to embrace the virtual classroom.