What is a Virtual Classroom
The training industry today is being transformed by digital education. Whether we are taking online courses on our mobile devices, or talking to our tutors via Skype, technology is having a profound effect on the way we professionals learn.
Whilst online courses and traditional classroom learning work well together, there is another less well-known component in the digital or blended learning model – the Virtual Classroom.
The Virtual Classroom
A Virtual Classroom is a portal, through which students can take part in a live tutorial, delivered remotely.
Tutors, who typically appear on video, share course material and display slides in real-time, but the key factor is the ability for students to interact with both the tutor and each other. This is usually done via an in-screen chat facility, and can include live quizzes to get feedback or test knowledge. In some cases, particularly if the class is small, students themselves can have their video link displayed. It’s all very 21st Century!
Like a real classroom, students may be given preparatory work to do beforehand, and assignments afterwards. In fact, the Virtual Classroom works in much the same way as the real deal, with one very significant difference. The students and tutors can be absolutely anywhere. As long as the student has a decent Internet connection, then the virtual class can happen across countries and time zones.
For example, take the case of a Cegos tutor delivering a virtual class from her office in London. Her students are in eight different countries. During the class, they can still ask her questions as she lectures, share ideas and generally contribute to the learning process, just as if they were in the same room in London.
Importantly, the students take the class wherever they wish. They don’t have to jump on planes or trains, or into cars. They don’t even have to leave home. Live, interactive learning happens wherever the student chooses to be.
What is a virtual classroom – the advantages
There are several advantages to this, for both students and employers.
From an employer’s point of view, costs are reduced considerably, particularly if staff are based in far-flung places. Because learning is location-independent, there are no travel expenses and no need to hire a venue. The Virtual Classroom can serve a large number of students at one time. So scalability is easy and carries practically no extra cost.
From a student’s viewpoint, the Virtual Classroom is ideal because they don’t have to devote travel time to get to the training. They also get to interact with others, who can bring new perspectives to their roles – people who they may otherwise never meet, especially if they are in other countries. This benefits companies too.
Replication of the classroom
Whilst we haven’t reached a total replication of the real classroom just yet, the rapid advance of online software is making virtual learning a desirable option for many companies.
Google, for example, have used it to great effect with their Google Squared marketing training, bringing together professionals from across the world to take part in classes and work with each other on assignments, adding an element of networking to the mix.
Indeed, Cegos has been using the Virtual Classroom as part of its training delivery for several years now. Many companies – particularly those with a global span – are reaping the benefits of training that extends company-wide, without the travel hassle and big budget normally required for programmes on a big scale.
As technology progresses, more and more organisations will use the Virtual Classroom as part of their training initiatives. And everyone stands to benefit, no matter where they are.
Cegos UK delivers a number of online courses using our Virtual Classroom. See our off-the-shelf ready-to-go curriculum here. We can also design client-tailored programmes, get in touch to find out more.