More and more universities have been introducing virtual classrooms to their academic offerings. While this trend predates the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for social distancing has accelerated interest in virtual classrooms. With more students, faculty, and administrators having had positive experiences with virtual classrooms during this period, this educational setting is here to stay.
- What is a university virtual classroom?
- What Are The Benefits of Adopting Virtual Classrooms In Universities?
- University Virtual Classroom Bests Practices
- Kaltura Virtual Classroom Platform For Universities
What Is A University Virtual Classroom?
University virtual classrooms are learning environments that students and teachers access remotely, via the Internet. University virtual classrooms aren’t new, however. The earliest remote classes began in the 1970s and were conducted through the use of video recordings, postal mail, and land-line telephones. Today’s university virtual classrooms are far more advanced, however, and easier to access.
These virtual learning environments are often integrated with a university’s learning management system (LMS). They provide not only a digital environment in which class is conducted but also serve as a repository of class-related information. University virtual classrooms also often have components that increase interactivity, student evaluation, and course support.
These components and features can include persistent rooms, shared note-taking, quizzing, text-based chat, and virtual whiteboards. Analytics, that help instructors track how video and other content in the university virtual classroom environment are being used are also increasingly key.
As is probably clear by now, university virtual classrooms are a lot more than just a group of students and a teacher on a video call. Rather, these learning environments are tailor-made for education in a way that is comparable to – and sometimes even exceeds – traditional in-person classroom environments.
But why go virtual? Let’s take a look.
What Are The Benefits of Adopting Virtual Classrooms In Universities?
University Virtual Classrooms Reduce Absences
Virtual classrooms at the university level allow students to attend classes even when they may have conflicts. Since students can reach the virtual classroom from anywhere in the world with the Internet, vacation conflicts quickly become a thing of the past. Also, students with colds and other illnesses who are well enough to attend class can do so without putting other students at risk.
University Virtual Classrooms Support Non-Traditional Students
University virtual classrooms are a huge boon to non-traditional students, who may have caregiving responsibilities at home or are juggling university education and a job. By cutting down on commuting time, allowing students to view recorded lectures on their own time, and helping students with young children remain at home with them, university virtual classrooms increase access to education and promote equity.
University Virtual Classrooms Promote Accessibility
Accessibility is another huge benefit of university virtual classrooms. Students receiving medical treatment, who have vulnerable immune systems, or who face other obstacles to class participation in a traditional in-person setting, may substantially benefit from virtual classrooms. Virtual classrooms also help to level the field, normalizing the idea of students participating from separate private locations. Additionally, the range of learning tools and content types available in university virtual classrooms (e.g., video with subtitles, text-based material, visual illustrations) can help increase classroom access for students with learning disabilities.
University Virtual Classrooms Can Also Benefit Language Learners
Students who are taking classes conducted in their second or third language also can benefit from the virtual classroom environment that allows them to have text-based, video, and audio cues that can help them continue to expand their language knowledge while keeping up on the material.
University Virtual Classrooms Help Student-Athletes Excel
Student-athletes are some of the busiest students on campus, and they can face some of the biggest challenges. Keeping up on coursework while training, practicing with the team, and traveling to games can be hard. But with the locational flexibility that university virtual classrooms offer, it can be much easier for them to successfully complete coursework and take a heavier course load than might be possible without virtual classrooms.
University Virtual Classrooms Can Help Universities Improve Graduate Rates
The first five examples here are focused on how university virtual classrooms help students complete coursework. The more students are able to successfully complete their classes, the more students stay enrolled. And the more students that remain enrolled, the higher a university’s four- and five-year graduation rates are likely to be. These improved graduation rates benefit universities financially but also benefit universities by boosting their rankings in competitive surveys of the best universities around the world.
Virtual Classrooms Allow Your University To Have Global Faculty
Universities benefit from virtual classrooms not just in terms of student satisfaction and performance. After all, virtual classrooms can help universities attract world-class faculty from anywhere in the world. Additionally, these virtual learning environments allow instructors to bring in guest lecturers and experts regardless of their global location. This can help your institution provide do more with less budget impact.
University Virtual Classroom Best Practices
Teaching in a virtual classroom environment shares many things in common with a traditional in-person classroom setting. However, there are certain tips and tricks that can make the switch to university virtual classrooms easier for all.
Do A Practice Run For Your Virtual Classroom – Both On Technology and Content
Even if you’re already experienced at teaching in a university virtual classroom environment, always do a test run before you start a new course. This includes making sure your computer and its video and audio equipment work effectively with your university’s virtual classroom solution, making sure you know where all the cool features of your virtual classroom solution are located, and being sure you’re ready to share presentations, visual content, and video as you teach.
Give Your Students The Opportunity To Test The Virtual Classroom Technology
You may also want to give your students an opportunity to test the university virtual classroom environment before your course begins. Having an optional session where students can log in, take a look around, test their equipment, and get you to know their peers and their instructor can help your first class session run more smoothly. And it helps to build community!
Focus Your University Virtual Classroom Activities On Questions And Discussion
At the university level, your students are young adults or older. This means that they should be able to effectively manage their own time. For this reason, it’s best to focus your live classroom sessions on discussion, Q&A, and group projects. There’s no reason for you to need to lecture live in a virtual classroom environment. You can record these lectures in advance of your course beginning and ask your students to watch them on their own time. Not sure if that’s happening? Analytics and in-video quizzes can help you keep track.
Be Sure To Maximize Student Engagement In Your University Virtual Classroom
Keeping your live class sessions discussion focused is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of maximizing student engagement in your university virtual classroom. Activities like group projects and course expectations like contributing to group notetaking can help your students engage with each other and your material. Additionally, for pre-recorded class material, see if your university virtual classroom solution offers students the ability to navigate through video on a personalized trajectory based on their own interests. This sort of choose-your-own-adventure approach can keep students engaged in material not just during classes but between class sessions.
Office Hours Are Still An Important Part Of University Virtual Classrooms
Providing your students access to virtual access hours can be a key part of providing a positive virtual classroom experience at the university level. Sure, students can just email you, but sometimes an open door and immediate feedback are what students need. Just because you’re not meeting in person, doesn’t mean you can’t maintain office hours in the virtual classroom environment.
In University Virtual Classrooms, Analytics Can Help You See Which Students Need Additional Support
In the best university virtual classroom solutions, analytics will tell you so much more than who did the homework and who didn’t. You’ll be able to see which content students are looking at most frequently. For video, this will be finely sliced. If students keep watching the same material over and over, perhaps there are questions you need to address in more detail. You’ll also be able to see if a student’s commitment to the class changes over time, allowing you to ask if there are outside pressures impacting their work or if there is more support you and your university can offer. Analytics will help you improve both the student experience and your teaching skills in the virtual university setting.
Kaltura Virtual Classroom Platform For Universities
Looking for a great university virtual classroom? You’ll want to look into Kaltura. Kaltura’s virtual classroom product is designed specifically for learning. It integrates easily with all the top LMS and is chock-full of interactive features that will promote student engagement and boost student performance. Easy to organize video libraries, captioning options, shared note-taking, virtual whiteboards, text-based chat tools, persistent virtual classrooms, in-app quizzing, choose-your-own-adventure navigation of video content, and more can help you engage students regardless of their learning style.
Kaltura Virtual Classroom is also easy to use. For you and your students, a single click will grant you access to the virtual classroom environment. Your university’s branding, helps lend authority to the proceedings and you’ll be able to set up your virtual space and in advance, so you’ll be ready to teach. Virtual classrooms and their features – like whiteboards – are persistent until you clear them. So there’s no worry about losing work at the end of a course session.
Additionally, easy-to-use video creation materials will make your job easier… and give you a great learning activity to engage your students.
Ready to launch your own Kaltura Virtual Classroom?