Technology is rapidly reshaping our world, and education is no different. A virtual classroom has emerged as a game-changer, transforming how we teach and learn. By eliminating physical boundaries, they open up endless education opportunities.
A growing number of students in the U.S. are taking to online education with career goals in mind. Similarly, organizations are turning to online employee training to meet their learning needs.
That’s because, in campus-based learning methods, people face the challenges of time, resources, and geographical barriers.
This is where online learning through virtual classroom software enjoys an upper hand.
Like everything else, learning has migrated to online environments a long time back, facilitated by technological advancement.
There are many benefits of using online classroom platforms. The most important among them is that it helps you overcome the limitations of physical classroom learning, for instance, by allowing 24/7 access from anywhere.
In this blog post, we do a 360-degree analysis of a virtual classroom to help you understand it inside out. Take a look.
What Is a Virtual Classroom?
A virtual classroom is a unified platform for online teaching and learning. Here, you can create learner groups, share courses, and tests with them, communicate with learners, send notifications, track progress, and view reports.
Virtual classrooms are used for both synchronous and asynchronous learning. They use various enabling tools such as web conferencing, live streaming, VoIP, chat, and message boards to execute learning and development programs seamlessly.
Watch: How to Set up Your Virtual Classroom in 5 Minutes
Examples and Types of Virtual Classrooms
Now that you have understood what a virtual classroom is, let us look at the different types. Virtual classroom platforms come in various forms. Let’s explore the top ones so you understand which type will suit your learning needs.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
As the name suggests, these courses are available for everyone. MOOCs are free web-based learning programs that may not always provide academic credit but can offer certification, which can be helpful for academic or professional studies.
These courses contain traditional materials made available online to learners. Examples include recorded video lectures, problem sets, interactive learning modules, quizzes, etc.
In the context of training and development, bootcamps are short and intensive courses that prepare learners for a particular role or industry.
Bootcamps are often known for their condensed and accelerated learning format, usually ranging from a few weeks to months. They are conducted via virtual classrooms through a mix and match of video conferencing and live lectures.
Online Degree Programs
Most colleges and universities provide their courses through virtual platforms, enabling learners to opt for remote or in-person classes.
While certain courses adopt a blend of virtual classrooms and interactive discussions, others primarily rely on asynchronous delivery, allowing students to access the course material at their own pace.
This type of classroom is generally based on a single course and comes under blended learning. Learners rotate between the classroom and at-home learning.
It is a single-subject learning environment that offers flexible schedules to learners. The classroom remains open 24/7, which enables self-paced learning.
This type of learning is also encouraged through small groups, and the virtual learning space can help solve doubts and questions.
It combines some face-to-face and mostly online learning. This model is often used for critical projects, topics, or assignments.
A La Carte Model
In this model, learners take a course entirely online in addition to their curriculum offsite. The instructor of record here is the virtual instructor.
Fully Virtual Classroom
This model emphasizes conducting all the coursework online. Communications between learners take place via online collaborative platforms.
Those are the popular virtual classroom examples you can leverage to provide engaging and productive learning experiences to your audience.
Features of a Virtual Classroom
The best virtual classrooms come with excellent features and functionalities, making training easy and convenient.
Here is a list of the features that all top-ranking virtual classrooms support.
A virtual classroom should have an easy user interface so learners can navigate the platform easily.
When the UI is simple, it becomes easy for learners to find the relevant course materials, collaborate with instructors, take assessments, and complete their courses on time.
Making course materials easily accessible is crucial for helping participants learn effectively. It can be frustrating for them when they’re forced to install software or download plugins, which can cause many problems.
This ends up creating a really bad learning experience. It would be much better if participants could effortlessly connect to digital tools by clicking on a link and using their login details. That way, they can focus on learning while the tool takes care of all the technical aspects.
Another feature that a virtual classroom should provide is video conferencing. It’s like bringing the classroom right into the participants’ homes!
With such tools, learners and instructors can see each other and participate in discussions like in traditional classrooms. This human connection adds a personal touch to online learning, making it more natural and engaging.
Virtual classrooms should support seamless collaboration so that learners and instructors can connect in real-time and exchange ideas. In addition, it promotes active participation, engagement, and social interaction.
When learners collaborate, they can learn from each other and acquire fresh ideas and innovative perspectives. This way, online learning becomes engaging and fosters teamwork and critical thinking.
This is another feature you should find in a virtual classroom. Breakout rooms facilitate discussions among small groups and collaborative activities.
Breakout rooms are beneficial as they enable the instructors to divide the learners into small groups, encouraging active participation and peer-to-peer interaction and promoting engagement.
Most virtual classrooms have an attendance tracking feature, enabling instructors and trainers to track attendance and monitor participation.
Attendance data also helps maintain accurate records for administrative purposes, such as grading and reporting. Moreover, tracking attendance promotes a sense of responsibility among learners, encouraging active participation and involvement in the virtual classroom.
Another crucial thing for any content creator is content security. When it comes to virtual classrooms, organizations, and educational institutions need complete control over their content.
An ideal virtual classroom solution should offer robust security features, including authentication and access controls. They help prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing, using, or downloading sensitive data.
Cloud storage is much safer than in-house systems because, with cloud storage, data is protected by advanced encryption and multiple layers of security measures. Also, the centralized nature of cloud storage also reduces the risk of physical damage or loss, offering a safer and more reliable option for data storage.
Virtual classrooms also help with the effortless creation of high-quality courses. For instance, if you’re using ProProfs online classroom software, you can develop virtual training programs and interactive quizzes.
Whether you want to create from scratch or use readymade courses or templates, you can easily do both. Most virtual classrooms have prebuilt courses and templates, which enable you to create engaging content out of the box.
The best part is that you can add multimedia, such as images, videos, podcasts, and presentations to make it more interactive.
Anytime Anywhere Learning
The best thing about a virtual classroom is that it enables your learners to participate in training sessions at their own pace and convenience.
Most virtual classroom software provides the flexibility to choose whether to make your courses public or restrict access through passwords or single sign-on (SSO). Plus, the online classroom materials are accessible 24/7, providing learners with continuous availability.
Training Large Groups
Whether you have a few learners or a large group, virtual classroom platforms make training effortless. You can easily organize learners based on their department or location. Create structured learning paths using course bundles based on learners’ needs.
Moreover, you have the flexibility to let learners self-enroll or seamlessly integrate with SSO using LDAP, API, or Active Directory. Enjoy the convenience of training small groups or even thousands, with streamlined management and enhanced user experience.
Tracking learner progress is a crucial feature that you’ll find in a virtual classroom platform. With this feature, instructors can monitor and assess learners’ performance throughout their training lifecycle.
Virtual classroom platforms often provide tools that enable instructors to track various aspects of learner progress, such as course completion, attendance, course engagement, and participation rates. By having access to real-time data, instructors can identify areas where learners may need additional support and training for effective learning outcomes.
Now that you know some of the key features of a standard virtual classroom, let’s continue and explore some of the significant benefits that these platforms offer.
10 Major Benefits of Virtual Classroom
Technological advancements have rendered obsolete many roles traditionally performed by humans. This is happening at such a pace that employees must rapidly upskill themselves.
The alarming rate at which this development is taking place has posed a challenge for L&D teams that still need to deploy classroom-based instructor-led training.
On top of that, work from remote locations has become the new norm, making it even more difficult for these teams to manage the task of enhancing employee capabilities.
So, there’s a need to find a solution to make training accessible to all employees, irrespective of time and location.
This is where virtual classrooms can help. They are at the core of eLearning and corporate training today. There are several benefits of deploying virtual classrooms. Let’s take a look.
1. Elimination of Time & Location Constraints
Virtual classrooms eliminate time and location constraints in learning. Learners can now enjoy the freedom to learn, exchange knowledge with fellow participants, and finish assignments anytime, anywhere. They get access to coursework independent of time zone differences and geographical locations.
For instance, ProProfs onboards its remote employees by assigning training courses through virtual classrooms. In fact, corporate training is also provided through these classrooms. So, no matter where the employee is located or their time zones, they can take courses anytime.
2. Participation in Online Discussions
The best virtual classrooms that support video conferencing let you participate in live online discussions.
Social interaction is one of the significant benefits of virtual learning. Learners and instructors can collaborate and discuss important topics, and learners are encouraged to share their views and thoughts.
Watch: How to Enable Collaboration & Discussions in Your Course
3. Improved Technological Skills
Traditional classrooms are great for hands-on practice, but digital tools help learners acquire technical skills.
Technology-enabled digital platforms such as Google Meet and Zoom Meetings familiarize learners with modern workplace learning tools, which is extremely important today.
What’s more? Plenty of useful tools help learners learn how to present information, calculate the slope, or prepare an experiment at home.
4. Cross-Device Compatibility
Learners can join a virtual classroom using popular devices like desktop computers, laptops, tablets, or smartphones.
Most of these classrooms are compatible with various devices, browsers, and operating systems people use these days. A learner can initiate a course on a computer and finish it on his mobile phone.
Note: A mobile LMS can help in this regard. This technology is so powerful that it enables learners to access training courses and download study materials on any portable device.
Watch: What Is a Mobile LMS & How Can It Help Train Anytime, Anywhere?
5. The Ability to Use Multimedia Content
An online classroom software system allows you to create and upload multimedia content such as audio, video, images, presentations, and more.
This makes learning more comprehensive and enriching for everyone involved. A traditional classroom environment permits no room for such a delivery method.
Watch: How to Add Media to Your Online Courses
6. Easy Knowledge Assessment
How do you know how well your learners have gone through each course?
Use assessments to measure knowledge retention.
Virtual classrooms let you quickly create a variety of assessments and assign them to your learners in multiple ways.
You can view and download detailed quiz reports to get a holistic view of learners’ progress. This will help you measure retention, gaps, and challenges and identify how well your learners have taken each course.
Watch: How to Analyze Training Course & Quiz Results
7. Automation of Admin Tasks
Virtual classrooms automate administrative tasks such as attendance tracking and grading, reducing manual labor and saving time for instructors.
Automated systems streamline administrative processes, provide instant feedback, and generate reports, enabling efficient management of learner records.
This automation enhances productivity and engagement and provides a smoother learning experience for both learners and instructors.
8. Centralized Training in a Secure Environment
Virtual classrooms create an organized space where everything needed for a course like creating lessons, tracking assignments, evaluating learner performance, and generating reports is all done in one place.
Instructors can easily develop and arrange course materials, create assessments, and keep track of how learners are doing using a single platform. This integration gets rid of the hassle of using multiple tools.
The best part?
Virtual classrooms provide detailed reports on learner progress, giving instructors valuable insights to enhance their teaching methods using data-driven decisions.
9. Automatic Grading
If evaluating learners’ performance takes a fair amount of time, think again. Now you can put grading on autopilot as some classroom management software has an automatic grading system.
Appraise tests automatically with transparency and fairness. One benefit of this is that learners get to know their scores instantly. It also removes the chances of bias and human errors in evaluations.
Read this guide to learn more about grading.
10. Progress Reports
Virtual classroom software lets you make data-driven decisions by providing detailed reports and analysis. You can easily track each learner or group’s progress and view key metrics on classes, courses, participants, and tests. Get average as well as individual test scores.
To know more about virtual classroom reports, read: Types of Reports and How to Access Them.
From all these benefits, we can safely say virtual classrooms make online teaching and learning incredibly easy, convenient, and secure.
Here’s an example. Global Linking Solutions (GLS), a cybersecurity management company, used a virtual classroom to train employees from six states. Lack of training and ineffective communication were the major problems reported by these employees, and as a consequence, GLS had a turnover rate of 30%.
Can you imagine 30% of the workforce leaving your company?
It sounds scary, right?
So, do you know how GLS handled it?
GLS improved its training and team communication through virtual classrooms. They used pre-built courses and quizzes and assigned them to employees spread across different nations.
They could quickly assess the learning materials and assignments irrespective of location and time. GLS could easily view reports to track the progress of their employees.
Read more about it here.
You must now have a fair idea about virtual classrooms, including how they can boost online training and learning. Next, let’s get hands-on and see how you can build your own classrooms.
9 Easy Steps to Create a Virtual Classroom
Creating a virtual classroom is easy if you follow the steps correctly. Here are the steps to create a virtual classroom:
Step 1: Identify Your Learning Objectives
Before you create a virtual classroom, you should know what objectives you’re trying to achieve. Ask these questions to yourself: What learning outcomes do I want to achieve? What skills do my learners need to acquire?
Whatever your goals might be, make sure that they are SMART.
Watch: How to Set SMART Goals | Training Course Introduction
Step 2: Choose the Right Virtual Classroom Platform
As the online learning market continues to increase in size, different virtual classroom tools are available to choose from.
However, selecting the one that aligns with your specific needs and offers the essential features is crucial.
One of the best ways is to look for a platform that provides a free trial, allowing you to explore its capabilities before making a purchase. Also, ensure that the virtual classroom has all the functionalities of an LMS.
Watch: How to Choose the Best Virtual Classroom Software
Step 3: Create an Online Classroom
Once you choose the right platform, you can set up your virtual classroom. If you’re using ProProfs, then you can follow this guide.
With this tool, you can also create multiple classrooms for different learner groups based on department, location, course, or any other criteria.
Watch: How to Set Up Multiple Virtual Classrooms
Step 4: Add Instructors
If you have many trainers involved in your learning program, making separate accounts for them is a good idea. This helps keep things organized and makes it easier to manage virtual learning. By creating instructor accounts, you can assign administrative tasks related to learner management, which helps streamline the learning process.
With most virtual classrooms, instructors can create and modify courses, add new learners to the classroom, group learners, and access reports for individuals or groups. They can also collaborate by sharing courses.
Watch: How to Add Multiple Instructors in Your LMS
Step 5: Create Your Courses
The next step is all about creating your courses. Ensure the courses you create are relevant, engaging, and of high quality. They should align with your learning goals.
Many LMS software with a built-in virtual classroom offers authoring tools to help with rapid course creation. Using them, you can create your own customized and branded online courses in minutes by importing training materials you already have.
Conversely, if you don’t have the bandwidth to sit and build courses, you can utilize a library of readymade courses. Generally, these resources are designed by subject-matter experts, fully customizable, and ready to go.
Read this guide to know more.
Watch: How to Create an Online Course
Step 7: Embed Quizzes Into Your Courses
Once you’ve created your courses, the next step is adding quizzes. This will help you measure knowledge, and you’ll be able to understand how well your learners have grasped the materials.
Try to make your quizzes engaging. You can add quizzes, such as MCQs, fill-in-the-blanks, true and false, and image-based quizzes.
Watch: How to Create an Online Quiz in Under 5 Mins
Step 8: Make the Right Settings
Once you have your courses and assessments ready, it’s time to make the right security settings.
If you’re using ProProfs, then you may customize your courses with the following settings:
- Set a reminder for the course due date
- Restrict repeat attempts on a course
- Re-order course chapters or pages
- Enable sharing of course completion certificates
- Set password and accessibility for your courses
Watch: How to Configure Your Online Course Settings
Step 8: Enable Single Sign-On
When it comes to enrolling a lot of learners in your classroom, a great option is to enable Google Single Sign-On (SSO).
This means learners can join your classroom using just one set of login details. It’s quick and secure, and they can use the same details to log in to other virtual classroom apps connected to your organization.
Read this guide to know more.
Step 9: Assign Courses to Learners
Once you have established the deadlines for course completion and made the other settings, you can assign the courses to individuals or groups.
You may also delegate this responsibility to instructors and group administrators to reduce your administrative workload.
Read this guide to know how to share your courses with learners.
Watch: How to Administer Training to Large Groups
Ready to Set Up Your First Virtual Classroom? It’s Easy!
A virtual classroom for online teaching and learning is at the core of most LMS platforms. It is central to all learning activities – from adding users and assigning courses to tracking learners and generating reports.
To make sure that you are able to use it to your maximum advantage, you should have a solid knowledge of what it is, how it works, what benefits it can deliver, and most importantly, what difference it can make to your learning and development plans.
Apply the tips discussed in this post to create a robust virtual classroom and train your learners in an easy, engaging, and sustainable way.
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