“Why would I need WizIQ? I see my students during the day in class…I hardly need a virtual classroom when I teach in a real one!”
We hear this quite a bit as we talk to people about WizIQ. Whether the instructors are in K12 schools, universities, or even training organizations, the physical classroom remains the location of choice for a whole lot of education. However, the days in which an educator’s day ends when the students walk out the door are long over. While there has always been the need to prep for the next day or grade papers, now educators often spend long hours outside of class interacting with their students via Moodle, Facebook, blogs, and discussion forums. Teachers respond to student emails, post questions for consideration on learning management systems, and record flipped classroom lessons. Even summer break is no longer sacred, with many instructors reaching out to students for advanced preparations and out-of-school study (AP teachers are famous for this).
Even in the last five years, both the technology and the expectations have evolved such that students and teachers tend to be at least indirectly connected in ways that my teachers would certainly not have expected. All the forums, blogs, and emails, though, can’t replace an actual conversation or face-to-face meeting. They can’t take the place of a teacher and students sitting around a whiteboard while the instructor draws out concepts and talks over his or her notes.
And this, as I tell the brick-and-mortar classroom teachers, is where WizIQ shows its stuff. The concept of office hours is nothing new in university settings, but when an increasing number of students are in school part time or coming back to school as adult learners, traditional office hours may simply not be feasible for many students. Adjunct faculty, as well, are often not available to conduct the office hours that can be so helpful to students who need a small group settings.
Similarly, many secondary schools have offered “homework hotlines” with teachers or students offering phone-based assistance, but in a K12 setting, actual face-to-face help with homework or extended learning day activities are difficult or impossible to accommodate, whether because of staffing issues, transportation, or student schedule constraints.
Virtual office hours, however, bring the benefits of an actual classroom to students and teachers regardless of where they might be. An instructor can be in her dining room, students can be at the library, in their bedrooms, in a hotel room, or just settling down after getting the kids to bed. WizIQ’s virtual classroom then makes sure that learners and teachers can work together at that oh-so-important whiteboard, see each others’ faces, and discuss coursework in real time. With the latest enhancements to audio in the virtual classroom, participants don’t even need headphones. They sit down at their computers and get to work.
The virtual classroom provides a pretty solid facsimile of the physical classroom in which teachers at brick and mortar institutions are accustomed to teaching and in which their students are accustomed to learning. WizIQ also happens to be cost-effective enough that it doesn’t require a major investment in a full-blown distance education program to justify purchasing licenses for instructors at an institution. In fact, individual academic teachers can get a free account; costs are only incurred if the institution decides to adopt the software more widely, perhaps for integration with an LMS or to manage classes and instructors from a unified dashboard. Just click the “Contact our sales team” link on our plans page and let them know you’re interested in a free academic account to try WizIQ for virtual office hours (or flipped classrooms, or interactive whiteboarding, or whatever).