The benefits of continuous training in the corporate world are many and agreed upon by all. With growing training needs, increasing number of learners and their increasing geographical spread, it is evident that technology-aided learning is becoming a popular choice of delivering trainings easily and at regular intervals. There is, however, a long history of debate between the effectiveness of classroom-based trainings versus the ease of use of self-paced e-learning. Virtual classrooms have emerged as the bridge between classroom-based trainings and self-paced e-learning – bringing together the accessibility and effectiveness of classroom-based trainings as well as ease of use of e-learning.
For some time, the virtual classroom remained a luxury available only to large organizations, thanks to the high tech infrastructure that this technology required. Now with the easy availability of broadband internet and the new-age conferencing tools, conducting virtual training sessions is commercially feasible and thus getting more popular.
For those who have never tried a virtual classroom, here is a list of what this technology-aided learning brings to the table:
- There are no nightmarish travel plans or conflicting resource bookings to deal with. Thus trainings via virtual classrooms are easier to plan and prepare for – saving both time and money.
- Even if the number of learners is huge, it is possible to train them all in one session –again saving time and money.
- Since learners do not have to travel to a common venue, they do not have to spend time away from their work in order to get trained.
- Additionally, virtual classrooms have an extra edge over self-paced e-learning–training content can be prepared faster than for self-paced e-content. Using templates and existing material, course material can be quickly put in place without going into unnecessary depth.
- Virtual classrooms are controlled by the instructor, who can explain in detail during the virtual session –and share necessary reading material as well –to encourage in-depth learning. Instructors can also use vibrant and impactful visuals to illustrate concepts.
- Virtual classroom trainings have better completion rates as they offer opportunities of social interaction with peers and instructors as well as more opportunities of collaborative learning.
- Instructors can also utilize the virtual classroom to conduct interesting interactivities that garner learner interest and provide a suitable push for learning by making it immersive.
Virtual classrooms are deployed via conferencing tools, which provide opportunities for web-based, audio as well as video communication. There are mainly three types of features that are incorporated in virtual classrooms.
Share and Display Information
Virtual classrooms have an interactive Whiteboard, which takes up the majority of the screen. Instructors can share documents, images or presentations on the whiteboard and utilize various annotation tools to highlight important sections or point to relevant parts. All documents created or shared on the whiteboard can be saved by the learners as well as the instructor for future reference or learning.
The Screen Sharing feature allows instructors as well as learners to share their current screen to display relevant information. The instructor can choose to share his or her screen in various ways – with or without the toolbar –or even share just a single application. This provides the opportunity to multitask during the session as well as take care of security concerns, if any.
In addition, with features like File Share, learners and instructors alike can share documents before, during or after the virtual session. Almost all prominent file types can be shared with this feature.
Promote Learner Interactions with Instructor
The learners can not only gain from the visual experience of the whiteboard but can also participate actively in changing or revising the document shared, pointing out sections that are not understood well –or even share their own learning on the whiteboard. This provides much-needed learner interaction, which makes sure that the lesson is not boring and ensures learner interest.
The screen share feature also aids hands-on learning. By enabling remote screen control, instructors can allow learners to manipulate the shared screen and learn by ‘doing’. This helps in learning computer applications well and provides the opportunity of practicing them as well.
Using polling,instructors can generate learner interest by posing questions and inviting responses from all learners. The results can be used to initiate fruitful debates as well as provide learner-centric content.
Inter-Learner Collaboration- with instructor as well as peers
Virtual classrooms now provide ample opportunities for real-time communication – through text-chat and audio, as well as video between the learners and instructor. Text chat can be the most non-intrusive channel of communication – especially when a live-session is going on. Using emoticons like ‘raised-hand’ the learner maybe allowed to ask and clarify doubts during or after the session.
Audio chat can also be conducted within a virtual classroom. With features like ‘muting’, the instructor can make sure that there are no unnecessary disruptions during the session and can encourage two-way communication once the session is over. With technologies such as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), the learners can conduct audio chat within the virtual classroom – without dialing in through a telephone or mobile. Audio chats can also be recorded within the virtual classroom to archive and utilize for further learning. Video chat makes the virtual classroom come alive, and instructors can deliver trainings as they would do in actual classrooms, but with better impact, utilizing the other additional features of the virtual platform.
Learners can also conduct one-to one video chats with their instructor or fellow learners to gain the benefits of close social interaction – clearing doubts and sharing views and even accomplishments, to ultimately aid impactful learning.
Virtual classrooms can be utilized in many ways – it depends on the creativity of the instructor and trainees.
If you want to experience a Virtual Classroom or improve its effectiveness, please drop us a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill the form below with your organization email ID, phone number, company details and key challenges; one of our colleagues will be happy to let you experience our Virtual Classroom: