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Tips for creating an interactive learning experience in the virtual classroom

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John Sherman
2017-04-11

Teaching in a classroom where both teacher and student are sitting face-to-face is hard enough, but when teacher and student are miles apart, things get a little trickier.

That said, the benefits of virtual classrooms are many.

  • High efficiency - the learning environment that is entirely focused on the improvement of workplace performance
  • A variety of highly-trained professionals able to transfer their knowledge to those learning
  • Clear ways to monitor the progress of individuals – everything being done online

But despite these benefits and the earnestness of your students, the teaching of any course needs to be interesting or even the most diligent student will struggle. So how can you make this happen?

The planning you do to improve your virtual classroom is what will make the difference between success and failure. Thankfully, there are easy ways to ensure you’re as prepared as possible.

In this post, we’ll offer some tips for interactive design in your virtual classroom, to give a helping hand for a difficult proposition.

Take a deep breath, sit down and think

A good first step would be to defining the intended outcomes of the course. What do you want your students to walk away with? What should your students be taking into their professional lives?

Finding a balanced mixture of theory or book work with real-life practice is an important aspect of virtual classrooms. An imperative outcome is that students can use what they have learned, so you should first search your professional history and what you know about the industry of the course you will teach, to create practical, appropriate content.

Create a solid course plan

Once the decision has been made on what to teach, ensure that both yourself (as instructor) and students can easily access a course plan.

The course plan should explain the steps that the class will take to teach the practical, appropriate content that has already been decided upon.

This plan should be structured in a way that gives a logical, step-by-step path to follow. This ensures that both the teachers and students of the course understand where they are and why they are learning what they’re currently learning.

It should also point out how this related to the practice of the workplace, to ensure that the students understand the importance of this point to their job.

An accessible plan will ensure everyone is on the same page when taking virtual classroom training.

Make things fun!

This may come as a surprise to some, but not everybody finds pouring over books of business best practice as fascinating as you do. For employees who aren’t as interested in learning intricate theoretical details or memorizing law, other means are necessary.

Use infographics to explain important points in novel ways, set up role-plays to demonstrate on the job scenarios, and try to keep things light. After you’ve been speaking for some minutes, ask questions to ensure that students have understood the point you’re making.

You can also use pop quizzes to keep the employees on their toes. The pop quiz may not be used in the overall marking of the course, it’s just for fun, but it will mean learners stay alert and engage in the class.

Classroom discussion also helps to build a rapport between the group and yourself. Co-operative learning has been shown to improve the performance of students, so make sure of it in your classes.

Interactiveness is important for virtual classrooms due to their nature. Without a physical focal point in the room, students have a tendency to drop focus and let their thoughts wander. Therefore it’s vital that you provide enough challenging and engaging twists on your teaching technique to keep them interested.

Use feedback tools

In a traditional classroom the understanding of students is easier to determine. In a virtual classroom however, the lack of body language and eye contact can make this more difficult.

A great way to get around this is to use feedback tools like polls and surveys. These tools will help you as a facilitator to get the best impression of how your students are handling the course and what their most pressing needs are.  You can request feedback on questions that you most need to know, and use them as a way to judge your classes understanding.

Remember that when teaching adults it is easy to miss someone struggling if they don’t ask for help. Feedback tools can make sure no one gets left behind.

So there you have it. Some tips and tricks to make a virtual classroom a runaway success. These are just a few simple suggestions that all good virtual classrooms should implement.

Given the thriving market in virtual classroom training, getting things right now should kick you on to ensure you can be a success.

 

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