Virtual classrooms are online-based learning spaces designed to have a similar interactive feel as a physical classroom. They introduce live or on-demand educational opportunities, often utilizing a broad range of technologies and goal-based learning methods.
Eighty-six percent of organizations are tuning into virtual classrooms for training, and virtual classes comprise 58 percent of classes in blended learning programs. Almost 90 percent of colleges and universities offer some form of online learning in their curriculum, as students and educators cite the benefits of accessibility and flexibility.
The complexity of education, though, seems to be a primary factor driving the innovations behind the virtual classroom. These innovations are what make the virtual classroom a true classroom, and not just a platform for online learning. One of the most important of these features is video conferencing. Virtual classroom video conferencing is a crucial way to bring interaction and collaboration into the online education experience.
What Video Conferencing Offers the Classroom
It is no secret that effectively managing a virtual classroom requires a technically capable solution in addition to attention-grabbing lesson plans. Video conferencing makes impactful engagement between teachers and students possible, but only if the video conferencing solution used in the classroom meets a few basic requirements. Virtual classroom video conferencing setups should include:
- Virtual whiteboard space
- Video conferencing equipment with auto-tracking and auto-framing that can keep the teacher or student in the camera’s view using movement or sound cues
- A way to share files and media materials like YouTube to provide deeper levels of content
- Call recording for replay and archiving
The features above are crucial to making video conferencing part of an effective learning tool. Additional useful features like picture-in-picture and screen-share drawing tools add to the teaching and educational experience.
Video Conferencing Increases Collaboration
It’s easy to let your mind wander when you’re in front of a screen. Virtual classrooms must be able to present the same materials as those in a physical setting and provide the same level of interaction and collaboration that conventional education provides. With 77 percent of student respondents stating that collaborative learning is key to success in education, virtual classrooms need to find ways to encourage remote learners to work together. This is where video conferencing shines.
The use of video conferencing in education provides teachers with an important tool to gauge student attentiveness.
The video conferencing classroom takes collaborative learning in a virtual setting to the next level. Video conferencing provides a way for teachers to get time face-to-face with students and makes it possible to share other media with the whole class. The usefulness of video conferencing does not stop at the flexibility of presentation materials; the two-way nature of a video call also provides instructors with the ability to customize lessons and materials on the fly. The use of video conferencing in education provides teachers with an important tool to gauge student attentiveness, allowing them to change direction if needed when it comes to style and content presentation.
Blurring the Lines Between Fun Time and Learning Time
Entertainment is a great way to support learning. A study published in the journal College Teaching points to the fact that humor can aid in information retention and recall. Entertainment (or edutainment, as it is called in a classroom setting) can capture the attention of a student audience, with some caveats.
Screen sharing allows the presenter to seamlessly integrate a variety of documents, video, and other presentation materials into a video calling presentation.
First, the entertainment must be pertinent to the course subject matter. Instructors should also balance the entertainment elements of their teaching sessions with traditional information presentations. Finally, games should not be overly competitive. Too much competition may limit some students’ ability to engage with the course materials and leave them behind in their learning.
Video conferencing can help achieve this balance when used properly. Options such as picture-in-picture displays let the student focus on the presented course materials while being able to view the instructor for body language cues and gestures. Screen sharing also allows the presenter to seamlessly integrate a variety of documents, photos, video, and other presentation materials into a video calling presentation without any transitioning distractions.
Gamification Takes Virtual Learning to Even Higher Plateaus
The increasing popularity of gamification in learning–bringing elements of gameplay into an educational setting–is also contributing to a blurring of the lines between educational and entertaining content.
One example of this is the U.K.-based company Growth Engineering, a major player in the gamification market. The company has developed a product to make goal-based learning fun, including the ability to “level up” or earn various achievement badges that can be turned in for rewards or used to unlock other levels. An available leaderboard option allows students and teachers to see at a glance where students are excelling and where further instruction may be required.
Bringing learning and collaboration into the classroom through gamification will require a robust video conferencing solution.
Video conferencing comes into play here as a way to make it possible for teams to have face-time, either between or during educational games. Video chat is already being used to connect teams playing board games for fun online as well as computer gamers. The attraction is clear–working together toward a common goal (or competing against each other) just isn’t the same without face-to-face visuals. The same is true in the classroom. Bringing learning and collaboration into the classroom through gamification will require a robust video conferencing solution, especially if augmented or virtual reality is brought into the mix.
Virtual Classroom Video Conferencing
Today’s innovative video conferencing technology gives educators the ability to create robust, engaging in-class presentations and make personal connections with students. Lesson presentations are more vibrant with video conferencing in the mix and make virtual classrooms more like physical ones.
The fact that virtual classroom video conferencing is being used more and more frequently, including by organizations such as Kaplan Test Prep, shows how video conferencing can fully engage the students that instructors are trying to reach. These teaching companies have embraced video conferencing as a way to make the online learning experience more immersive for the student body. The use of the virtual classroom will continue to grow, but not without video conferencing by its side.