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Virtual Classroom: What it is and How it Works

immanuel vinikas headshot
Immanuel Vinikas
Updated January 25 2021
Young girl attending a lesson in a virtual classroom
immanuel vinikas headshot
Immanuel Vinikas
Updated January 25 2021

What is a Virtual Classroom?

A virtual classroom is a video conferencing tool where instructors and participants engage with each other and with the learning material. The difference with other video conferencing tools is that virtual classrooms offer an added set of features that are essential to a learning environment.

 

Virtual classroom software enables instructors to:

  • moderate student participation
  • display learning materials in the form of documents, slide decks, or multimedia files
  • enrich the learning experience with screen-sharing and virtual whiteboard features
  • divide the participants into breakout rooms, which the instructor can join
  • engage the participants with polls and quizzes
  • record the sessions (and manage those recordings)

 

 

A virtual classroom platform helps make the learning experience interactive and engaging while providing a controlled environment. But virtual classrooms also offer features that reach beyond the in-class experience. Instructors can access the classroom prior to the lesson to prepare the material. This material, as well as the session recording, is available after class, for reference for instructors and participants alike.

 

Participants can connect to virtual classroom platforms from any device that can connect to the Internet. This type of flexibility enables participants to consume content, regardless of their location across the globe.

 

Another major benefit of virtual classroom software is that it facilitates student progress tracking. Instructors can consult data such as class attendance and student activity. They can track a participant’s progress via online polls and analytics, identify areas of difficulty, and help the participant learn challenging subject matter with visual tools.

 

Lastly, many virtual classroom platforms can be integrated within the school’s or company’s established learning management system (LMS). Advanced platforms support Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) so that the virtual classroom system and the LMS can communicate with each other, making the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

 

In this article, you will learn:

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What Do You Need for a Virtual Classroom?

Perhaps the most important requirement when moving from a physical classroom to a virtual classroom is the understanding that these are two different environments.

 

While a physical classroom environment is built using brick and mortar, a virtual classroom is composed of software and hardware. These materials have different uses and costs. What you need when looking to create a virtual classroom is to find the most suitable virtual classroom platform to fit your needs. One consideration may also be how the virtual classroom platform fits with other systems that you may already have in place, such as your Learning Management System (LMS).

How to Choose a Virtual Classroom Platform?

A virtual classroom platform can help education institutions provide a positive learning experience.

 

However, not all solutions are implemented similarly or provide the same learning experience.  In fact, a recent survey found that the majority of students are not enjoying the current remote learning experience. Here are key takeaways from the survey:

 

  • 68% of surveyed students said they feel online instruction has been worse than in-person instruction.
  • 28% of surveyed students said they experienced difficulty using or navigating digital learning tools.
  • 22% of surveyed students said they experienced difficulty when trying to access online learning materials.

 

Here are key features every virtual classroom software should provide:

 

  • Easy access—is key to help course participants learn course materials. When participants are required to install software or download plugins, they can experience difficulties. The result is a poor learning experience. Participants should be able to easily connect to digital tools, preferably using just a link and their credentials.
  • A user-friendly interface—is critical to help course participants use and navigate through digital learning tools. When the interface is simple and intuitive, participants can quickly enjoy classes and the relevant learning materials, communicate with instructors and collaborate with classmates.
  • Efficient learning—instructors and content creators should be able to add another layer of organization on top of the interface. Since each course is unique and provides different materials, the structure of the course should be similar to that of the entire hub, but flexible enough to provide unique features according to subject matter.
  • Content security—is a crucial element for content creators, curators, and consumers. A virtual classroom solution should help organizations and education institutions gain complete control over their content. The platform should also provide built-in security measures, such as authentication and access controls, which help prevent unauthorized access, usage, and download of educational and sensitive data.

Best Practices for a Virtual Classroom Setup

Typically, organizations and education institutions create their own unique digital learning stack, which meets their individual needs and standards. However, there are certain practices that can help improve the process in most cases. Here are key best practices for a successful virtual classroom implementation:

 

  • Simulate a physical learning environment—instructors, teachers, and class participants need features that simulate a physical learning environment, regardless of their current location. Even if participants are viewing the class from their living room, the digital space should look familiar. A virtual classroom can help create a suitable learning environment, using quality streaming, presentation tools, and user-friendly collaboration features.
  • Features for interactive teaching—such as digital whiteboards and annotations, emojis, chats, and polls. All of these features help instructors engage participants and create a dynamic and interactive learning environment.
  • Breakout groups—are features that split a virtual classroom into mini virtual classrooms, where participants can work in small groups. Instructors can set a time limit for group work and bring all participants back to the main virtual classroom.
  • Easy sharing capabilities—instructors often share materials with participants. Instructors need to be able to share screens, video, audio, and other resources. Easy and quick sharing is critical to ensure a positive learning experience.

Virtual Classroom with Kaltura

Kaltura Virtual Classroom is your dedicated learning environment, standalone or integrated into your LMS. Engage your students with interactive tools for focused learning and cutting-edge video conferencing that requires no installation or download. From whiteboards to quizzes and breakout rooms, Kaltura Virtual Classroom’s persistent virtual spaces are made for learning.

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