How to get started with virtual classrooms
By Jason Kinsella – 6 April 2018
Virtual classrooms have been around for a long time, and exist in all shapes and sizes. However many organizations still rely on traditional face-to-face methods to deliver training. In today’s blog post, we answer some key questions to help you get started with virtual classrooms.
What is a virtual classroom?
A virtual classroom is one that contains virtual participants in a live classroom environment. It is more than just an online version of a physical classroom, as it requires a different balance of instruction and technology to a face-to-face environment.
Virtual instructor-led training (VILT) has gained popularity as learners can attend from anywhere with an internet connection. Because the instructor does not need to be physically located in the same room as the learners, virtual classrooms have several benefits, including:
- Reduce training costs: By eliminating travel expenses and reducing per-seat training costs
- Minimize time out of the office: Allowing learners to continue their regular work functions and not let training hinder productivity
- Provide more flexibility to businesses with remote workforces
- Allow training organizations to expand the training options they offer
What tools are required in a virtual classroom?
Depending on the topic being trained, virtual classrooms run in a variety of ways. At a minimum, they typically require a decent internet connection, and some sort of conferencing facility such as a phone, so the instructor can be heard.
The tools to aid with visual instruction in a virtual classroom are in some ways more critical than any others tools, given that the instructor and students are physically apart. Hence a webcam can often help, and definitely a tool for the instructor to share their screen. One key tip from an expert in VILT is that the content in the presentation should also be different to that contained in a face-to-face presentation, to keep virtual learners engaged. Read more expert tips here.
There are many virtual classroom tools available, each one providing different features and benefits. When reviewing these, it’s important to focus on the problem you are trying to solve for your organization, to work out which one has features that will help you deliver successful training. Training soft skills in a virtual classroom has very different requirements to training out complex software or IT. As such, keeping your key learning objectives top of mind is critical when exploring how VILT can benefit your organization.
Increasingly used in virtual classrooms, and one of the hottest trends in tech training today, are virtual labs. Virtual labs are cloud-based training environments that enable hands-on practice of software applications. Specialized labs for virtual instructor-led training should include features such as screen sharing, over-the-shoulder assistance, and feedback methods as standard.
What skills do instructors need to run a successful virtual classroom?
Virtual training instructors must prioritize interactivity with their learners. They should be skilled at presenting content, monitoring students’ activity on their machines, looking out for questions, and facilitating hands-on practice scenarios.
Our free whitepaper, How To Deliver Amazing Training With Virtual Labs, will give you insight into the hands-on nature of virtual labs.
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