Teachers who teach online are continually looking for platforms that are easy to use and can facilitate the best delivery of their courses to the students. These teachers are not only spirited about the courses they teach but are also passionate about connecting with students online- as they would have connected with students in a traditional learning environment. Many teachers think that making videos, podcasts, PowerPoint presentations, and PDFs are sufficient to help them along in making a connection with students while teaching online.
You may be a teacher just like the one we described above. You may be shaking your head in agreement to what we have stated and yet will ask us: ‘How can I connect with my students better?’ If you have tried everything in your online class, yet have not been able to crack the connect code – we offer a solution, that is being used, around the world successfully by the instructors – a video conferencing software or an online classroom software for instructor-led learning.
Chris Roberts, Principal of Streaky Bay Area School, South Australia, talks about how the video conferencing software or virtual classroom is an enabler of learning. He says that it does not matter if the teacher is teaching in class or an online class. Any lesson delivered should be engaging. In a video conference or a virtual classroom, the teacher must be able to incorporate quizzes, interactive games, and activities that can help to form the connection. Teachers can also use a ‘document camera’ during the live class in real time to show a portion of a workbook or present a problem for the students to work on. Simultaenously it can help to generate interest from the students and push them to ask questions, and clarify doubts. This indeed can take the interactive and the connect quotient to another level. So what all can a video-conference tool do for you?
What will a Virtual Classroom or a video conferencing software help you do?
An online classroom is a blessing for teachers and students who are located in distant geographies from each other. A virtual classroom allows for a traditional classroom to take place in an online setting. It is a cost saving method as (no physical infrastructure, traveling costs are incurred) and allows for the teacher to connect with as many learners as required.
Some of the important jobs your virtual class will help you achieve are:
Students will be able to see you
A visual connect makes the most impact on a learner. Your gestures, intonation, body language and facial expression will help the learner to assimilate information. In the broader context of social learning, i.e., learning via imitating gestures and modeling one’s behavior after teachers, family, friends – this is important. These non-verbal cues form a part of non-verbal communication which the students can absorb by seeing the teacher helping them understand and learn better.
Record and share lecture videos
A virtual classroom will record your online lecture in real-time. These will be available for students to revisit at their convenience. You may also edit these recordings at a later date with new information and share with another batch of students. When you look back on your lectures, you will be able to get feedback on your body language, if you were using the right words to explain a concept and try to improve your method the next time around.
Engage Your Learners
The virtual classroom usually has a whiteboard where you can share your course presentations. There is two-way writing controls on video conferencing software that allows the student and teacher to engage with each other during the lecture. The teacher may also share their screen, show web pages, YouTube videos on the software to help the class to stay interactive. The platform can be used to host webinars or online conferences, with a panel of experts/ scholars to get an insight into a topic, take questions from the students. Some teachers have also used the virtual classroom system to give students a virtual trip – to different locations – which the student can enjoy the comforts of his/her home or place.
Use the Breakout rooms
Allows students to collaborate in a live session in separate e-rooms to interact with each other on a project or a discussion. These are private rooms and may or may not be supervised by a teacher. They may join the online live class back with their answers or discussion conclusions during a live video class. Breakout rooms are used primarily in real-time for online project work.
Facilitate Assessment and Feedback
These two may be administered and collated during a live class. Administer polls, tests to find out if your lessons are helping students to assimilate knowledge. It will also help you take feedback on the course, the effectiveness of your instruction, and help you get several ideas to make the course better.
Virtual Classroom often comes with embedded private and public chat feature. Students may chat with the teacher privately, ask questions.
What you should know about video conferencing software and virtual classroom
The term video conferencing and virtual classroom is generally used interchangeably because, it is understood by the educator community as one and the same. The underlying element and the prime functionality of live audio-video is indeed similar, however, there are several differences which is worth noting. Video conferencing software are termed so, because they are tuned to work the best in a professional business setting. Business professionals generally use it to connect to remote customers, or prospects, to sell products, provide customer service or other business services.
However, virtual classroom is more appropriate for an educational environment where a teacher, instructor or a trainer is taking a class or an educational session for the participants. The participants can be K12 students, college graduates or business professionals. There are some typical feature differences that the educator community can find in the two types of products. For example, a virtual classroom has a feature “Raise Hands” which is a replication of a classroom behavior expected by teachers from students when they have questions to ask. This feature is not available in video conferencing software, because it is not expected in a business setting. A typical example of a video conferencing software is WebEx, while a typical example of a virtual classroom solution is WizIQ.
There are many types of virtual classroom or video conference technology which may help you deliver your classes seamlessly online. These days there are so many options to choose from, such as mobile video conferencing (growing in popularity, the next big thing), desktop video conferencing (the most popular by far and is used by teachers and students alike), integrated video conferencing, monitor codec, codec, room-based technology, telepresence, multi-way technology, and data sharing.
Getting in touch with your online students has never been simpler. Get started with video-conferencing today!