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Posted on Wed, May 27 2020
Teaching and learning remotely isn’t a new concept, it has been around since the 1900’s. However, the advances in technology has made it more popular especially with the birth of the internet. The internet has made a lot of things possible including online learning; which is an education that takes place over the internet. With the advent of online learning, education has evolved and adapting to new learning styles through flexibility and convenience of virtual classrooms.
In this article, we’ll share what a virtual classroom is, the types of virtual classroom, benefits and challenges associated with virtual classroom.
What is a virtual classroom?
A virtual classroom is a teaching and learning environment where participants can interact, communicate, view and discuss presentations, and engage with learning resources all in an online setting. The medium can be through a video conferencing application that allows multiple participants to be connected at the same time or through an online platform/portal where participants can login to via the internet irrespective of their location.
A virtual classroom provides an opportunity for distance education to students remotely by means of web-based online learning programs. It also provides the instructors (teachers) with innovative teaching tools to teach virtually from anywhere at any time, irrespective of the geographical area, through online classes and courses.
Types of virtual classroom
Supervised (Synchronous) virtual classroom
This type of virtual classroom conforms more to a traditional classroom definition. There is at least one active instructor (teacher) present and lesson are taught in real time at a specific time and date, with the students being in attendance virtually through a video conferencing application. Here, students and teachers can truly interact and actively participate in class.
Unsupervised (Asynchronous) virtual classroom
This virtual classroom is characterized by ready-made learning materials that students can follow without the aid of an instructor (a teacher), essentially a self-paced lesson or course where assessments can be automated after every activity. This is the most common form of virtual classroom, where students just watch a pre-recorded video lesson or read a PowerPoint presentation or access other learning materials made available by the teacher. This type of virtual classroom does not always need an active teacher to supervise students; in this setting, students can proceed at their own pace, with the instructor (teacher) only around to evaluate the students.
Benefits of virtual classroom
Here are some of the benefits of virtual classroom.
Challenges associated with virtual classroom
As interesting and exciting as virtual classroom is, here are some challenges that should be of concern.
With virtual classroom, teaching and learning can cross borders and overcome time, geographic and other kind of restrictions. Looking at the benefits of virtual classroom, it should almost be a mandatory part of any institution. To get the best out of virtual classroom, there is a need for balance. i.e. both the supervised and unsupervised approach should be implemented.
Also, a Web-based Course Management Systems or Learning management Systems that incorporate digital reading materials, podcasts (recorded sessions for electronic listening or viewing at the student’s leisure), e-mail, threaded (linked) discussion forums, chat rooms, and test-taking functionality would enable an immersive learning and teaching experience.