What is a Virtual Classroom?
A virtual classroom is an online learning environment that allows students and teachers to interact online in real time. They are typically cloud based and part of a bigger Learning Management System (LMS).
The most important features of virtual classrooms are customization and accessibility. They are highly customizable and can be accessed from many devices like laptops, smartphones or tablets.
Generally, teleconferencing is used for live communication, with the teacher moderating the class and guiding the learning process through activities like group work and debates. Virtual classrooms give educators a variety of tools to present learning content, which can increase student engagement.
The main objective of the virtual classroom is to recreate the face to face learning experience while retaining the benefits online platforms provide, such as digital file sharing and more complex communication tools.
Virtual Classroom in education
Virtual Classrooms are quite effective at recreating the in person class experience, but they have a few significant drawbacks. First, students and educators may need extra training to understand how to use the classroom software effectively. Second, virtual classrooms rely on computer technology which can be unreliable and prone to break down, disrupting learning. Finally, there are subtle but important elements of human interaction which are lost when interacting online, which may make it harder for some students to learn. But virtual classrooms have more benefits than drawbacks. These are the most important benefits of virtual classrooms:
- Flexibility: While class still takes place at a predetermined time, content can be accessed whenever and wherever a student needs, thanks to the technology integrated into class. This allows students more flexibility regarding how they fit class work into their schedule.
- Diversity: Virtual classrooms facilitate the participation of people from all over the world, creating a rich educational environment where students with different opinions and points of view share knowledge in class discussions.
- Instant feedback: Many exams in virtual classrooms give immediate feedback, displaying students’ scores as soon as they submit work. Communicating with teachers is also simple and fast, allowing students to ask questions as they have them, rather than waiting for the next class.
- Practicing digital skills: Virtual classrooms help students develop their digital skills, a crucial new ability in a world where technology is so ubiquitous.