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How does a virtual classroom work?

Learn everything about this learning environment and the advantages of teaching online.

How does a virtual classroom work?

Have you noticed how teaching and learning have been changing? This is mainly due to the influences of the digital age, and in recent years, the biggest highlight in the educational market has been virtual classrooms.

These learning environments have become essential during the Covid-19 pandemic and have created opportunities for those who wish to study, conduct training courses, and people who want to become entrepreneurs and scale their results. 

In a virtual classroom, it’s possible to acquire knowledge through active, immersive methodologies and new ways of learning. This is because the idea behind these virtual classrooms is to simulate the most important points of a classroom and, together with technologies, teaching becomes more integrated and collaborative.  

Thanks to the internet, distance education has become popular, it is encouraged by many educational institutions, and it is growing more and more, with college, technical, vocational, and non-regulated courses.

Despite being quite popular, many people still have questions about how learning in a virtual classroom works. If you’re one of those people read this entire post to understand how the online (virtual) classroom and all of its advantages work!

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How do online classes work?

Online classes are part of distance learning, which is a way of teaching that takes place – completely or partially – in a virtual environment, by means of videos, e-books, and other digital materials.

The technologies that allow online classes to occur are usually distance learning platforms. They provide support for various content formats, a good virtual learning environment (VLE), and facilitate communication.

Teachers record lessons that are made available for students to watch via the platform. In addition, live classes and discussion forums can also be made available.

Assignments and tests for students to do online can also be provided through the platform.

How do virtual classrooms work?

Distance education offers convenience, speed, and many other benefits that are only possible thanks to the creation of an environment conducive to online learning: the virtual classroom.

It’s a results-focused space, with specific tools that help students absorb knowledge, as well as offering resources for teachers to develop their classes in the best way possible.

The virtual classroom can be compared to a conventional classroom, after all, it works as a space to interact and exchange knowledge.

However, the difference is that in the virtual environment, students and teachers can count on powerful tools that do not exist in physical spaces.

On the internet, for example, students can:

  • Access their favorite subjects;
  • Ask teachers and other classmates questions as soon as they come up;
  • Make comments and suggestions;
  • Take educational tests and quizzes more frequently;
  • Have access to previously studied content to review what they have learned;
  • And much more.

A virtual classroom has tools designed exclusively for the teaching and learning process. We’re going to talk about each of them and show you how they can help you grow in this market.

Virtual classroom tools

In these digital times, it is essential that the virtual classroom be equipped with efficient tools. In fact, some of these features cannot be found in physical classrooms, such as automatic performance reports.

In general, the use of tools, which we will mention below, allows virtual classes to become more dynamic and interactive, and thus facilitate learning.

1. Discussion forum

One of the most important tools in any virtual classroom is the discussion forum. Constant interaction with participants is fundamental, especially in regard to non-regulated courses, such as trainings, mentorship courses, and coaching.

The discussion forum in a virtual classroom has the purpose of allowing the exchange of knowledge. It facilitates communication between students and the teacher, as well as among the students themselves.

More than merely a channel for asking questions, the forum aims to simulate – as much as possible – the environment of a physical classroom, in which people are always in contact, and students talk to each other and ask their teachers questions.

Since the virtual environment doesn’t have this face-to-face interaction, the discussion forum is the tool responsible for making people – in a given online course – communicate more.

2. Mind map

The mind map, a diagram model developed by Englishman Tony Buzan, is a tool for managing knowledge.

When applied in a virtual learning environment, mind maps allow students to understand the next steps to be taken, the goals of what is being taught, and what strategies are needed to achieve those goals.

The diagram situates students from the point where they are to where they want to be, whether it’s within a week, a month, or a year from now.

In processes such as coaching, mind maps are often applied to make it clear to people what their true goals are.

Planning in the form of a diagram helps you visualize everything that could happen during the course. In other words, the consequences of following a certain path of study.

This can contribute to students’ increased focus, memorization, and learning in the virtual classroom, since they will know exactly where they’re headed with the online course.

3. Calendar

A calendar is one of the most basic tools in a virtual classroom. This is because in an increasingly fast-paced and hectic world, keeping up with appointments is critical.

Calendars allow virtual classroom participants to know what the important dates are, and prepare for each one in advance.

In academia – and in mentorship, coaching, and other processes – a calendar is known for being a great time-optimization tool.

In order for results to be achieved, it’s critical that people be aware of their commitments, deadlines, and tasks.

When the course involves periodic evaluation activities, a calendar can also help the teacher.

Simply write down the specific test dates or the time interval available for the student to complete a certain task.

4. Infographic

Unlike a calendar, infographics focus on visuals  and conveying information through colors and images.

Many complex pieces of information can be conveyed easily when presented as an infographic.

In fact, this content format can be seen as being similar to charts, with the difference that it’s much more didactic and easier to absorb.

Within the virtual classroom, participants can have access to various infographics, which are rich in content. It’s up to the teachers to develop this type of content to assist their students.

5. Video lessons

One must-have tool in a virtual classroom are video lessons, which are recorded videos that students can access at any time.

Because they are recorded in advance, video lessons are powerful, assertive, and exclusively designed for the type of content to be taught.

The virtual classroom participants access the video lessons, follow the teachings in each of the videos, and make comments in the online discussion forum.

One of the major advantages of video lessons is their virtual nature. Teachers or trainers can develop the materials during their free time, without compromising their work schedule.

And since the material is distributed digitally, there’s no need for direct face-to-face contact with students, who can watch the lessons from wherever and whenever they want (we will talk about this later in this post).

This represents a huge gain in time and process optimization. Not to mention the possibility of reviewing the content, improving the videos, and striving to create increasingly better material.

6. E-books

E-books work as complete and independent materials in book format, together with video lessons.

The human brain learns through repetition. Hearing certain information only once might not be enough for it to be fixed in the minds of students. This is why texts and written materials contribute to learning in the virtual classroom.

E-books are perfect for this purpose as they deliver valuable content in text format.

They have clear language, a great layout, and reinforce the content taught, which can be read again whenever necessary.

Different e-books can be made available for each subject, level of knowledge, or stage in the learning process.

Thus, students will progress and have access to material compatible with their level of personal and intellectual development.

7. Supplementary materials

The aforementioned materials and tools are merely examples. They’re all great for the learning process within the virtual classroom.

But of course, other supplementary materials can be made available in a virtual environment, such as lectures, links, tools for time management, evaluation systems, and feedback.

The more supplementary materials, the better the students’ experience will be.

Teachers should make the learning environment rich in relevant information. Summaries, additional content, and customized tools are always welcome in the virtual classroom.

8. Real-time chatroom

A real-time chatroom might seem complex at first glance, but you should know that it’s very important for any virtual classroom. It can be a means of evaluation, because the teacher can analyze the student’s learning process. 

The teacher acts as a mediator of the conversation, introducing and developing topics throughout the conversation. A great advantage of a real-time chatroom is the possibility of connecting with anyone anywhere in the world at the same time. 

However, using chatrooms is more than just a method of evaluation. You can have a brainstorming session with participants for example. By doing so, an idea can be built collectively and studied in depth.

In addition, you can answer and ask questions, define positions, and share important announcements. 

A chat tool allows private conversations among students, and also between students and teachers. 

9. Exams and tests

In a virtual classroom, you can apply multiple-choice tests and have the results as soon as they’re finished, since the system already has the answers. 

Another possibility of this tool is the collaborative correction of tests and exams. In other words, students can correct the tests themselves, which is another learning method. 

Virtual tests and exams reduce manual work and are more economical, since they save hundreds of sheets of printed paper. Additionally, other teachers can interact and comment on the test questions, allowing for a good review workflow.

Another point is the layout of the questions. With physical tests, teachers needs to use a layout that allows students to understand the questions. In virtual classes, the layout is handled by the learning platform.

Next, we’ll talk about automatic performance reports, which are a part of virtual exams and tests.

10. Automatic performance reports

In virtual classrooms, student performance is evaluated automatically and dynamically, by the platform itself. In this manner, the teacher knows who’s having the most trouble and can pay closer attention to them. 

Advantages of the virtual classroom

In addition to the tools we’ve presented, the virtual classroom has several advantages for everyone involved in the process. Because of these advantages, many people are opting for virtual teaching and learning a lot. 

We’ve listed the 8 main advantages for you to understand why you should work in a virtual classroom. Check them out:

1. Access to the content anywhere, any time

One of the great things about the internet is that it provides unlimited and uninterrupted access to information available throughout the world.

With a virtual classroom, students can consume the best information regarding the courses they are studying, whenever and from wherever they want.

This represents an incredible gain in time, since each person has specific commitments, schedules, and tasks. There’s nothing better than being able to study during your free time and take advantage of breaks and openings in your schedule!

Teachers also gain from this flexibility. Content can be posted and analyzed at the best times of the day, without compromising their work schedule.

When students use the forum, for example, teachers have the possibility of answering questions during their free time.

Moreover, teachers can choose the best days and times to record and edit their lessons according to their commitments during the week.

2. Being able to interact with people from around the world

How do you grow in an increasingly competitive market?

The answer lies in expanding the business’ reach, which is often referred to as scalability. The more scalable a business is, the better its results will be.

The virtual classroom allows contact with people from all around the world. This means that your work isn’t limited by geographical factors.

If, currently, you can only serve people from a certain city or state, with virtual classes you’ll be able to have customers from all over the world.

For students, this also represents a huge competitive advantage. The exchange of ideas, thoughts and knowledge is fantastic. This is where tools, such as the discussion forum, gain strength.

There are no limits in a virtual classroom, everyone can participate and interact, and learn from one another.

3. Increased student reach

Interacting with people from anywhere on the planet represents an advantage for teachers when we think about the greater reach of students.

Remember when we talked about scalability?

Reaching a larger share of the market is the recipe for professional growth.

Unlike traditional classes, which are constrained by physical space and teacher and student availability, virtual classrooms are much more convenient. They allow anyone to join your course at any time.

4. Time saving

Saving time is a huge advantage, especially for students.

The truth is that nobody has time to waste anymore. Work, domestic chores, taking care of children, family, and health, take up a lot of people’s time.

This explains, in large part, the growth of distance learning courses. This alternative way of learning has come as a solution to a typical modern problem: lack of time. Without having to commute to school, students can save several hours.

5. Lower investment

The reduced investment of courses and online private classes is due to the low cost of producing the classes. By spending less on infrastructure, equipment and tools, teachers can charge students a lower price.

Therefore, most of the time, virtual classroom classes are much more affordable than those held in physical classrooms.

Expenses, such as leasing space, paying for cleaning, and utility costs, simply do not exist in this type of education.

And by charging less for classes, teachers are able to win over more students.

Many people stop taking face-to-face courses because of the high costs. Virtual classes solve this problem, emerging as an affordable solution that offers the same level of quality as face-to-face teaching.

6. Easy measuring and tracking of student progress

Remember when we talked about generating reports through the automatic analysis of computer data? This digital method is effective for both teachers and students. 

Through tools, such as videos, forums, and real-time chatrooms, it’s easy to measure and track the progress of each student and pay attention to those who are having trouble. 

7. Increased personalized learning

Each student learns differently – some are visual learners and others learn faster with audio. The great advantage of the virtual classroom is the range of resources, which allow for the personalization of learning. 

Therefore, this digital environment is one of the best ways to adapt learning to each student’s needs and pace. 

8. It helps democratize education

One of the great advantages of the virtual classroom is that it democratizes education. This is because online education is much more accessible, compared to physical classrooms. 

You can be certain that the democratization of education occurs from the moment anyone can study. 

Online learning eliminates the costs of transportation and commuting. Another issue regarding democratization of education has to do with the materials, because they are available online, reducing the costs of buying books and printing. 

In addition, there are many non-regulated courses on the internet. This can be a good way of entering a new area and standing out in the market, both as an entrepreneur and as a professional looking for a new job. 

Can the virtual classroom replace traditional teaching?

One of the big questions is whether this virtual teaching modality can replace the traditional teaching model. Are virtual classrooms the end of physical classrooms?

The truth is, these two models can easily co-exist. There’s room in the market for virtual learning environments as well as for traditional education.

It’s wrong to think of virtual classrooms as being better or worse than traditional teaching. The two models are equally rich and designed for different audiences.

Those who have the time and enjoy personal contact can opt for traditional classes, while those on tighter schedules and budgets and flexibility regarding teaching models tend to prefer virtual classrooms.

Meanwhile, teachers are free to work in both physical and virtual spaces.

Many teaching professionals teach in both formats. Thus, they’re able to supplement their income, reach more students, and achieve better results professionally.

The future of education

The future of education reveals a promising scenario for professionals who want to grow. And anyone with specific knowledge in a certain area can teach on the internet.

Creating an online course to make your classes available in a virtual classroom is a great business idea, which allows professionals to convey their knowledge, help other people, and scale their income.

If you enjoyed this information and wish to learn more about the distance education model, we have a complete post on how to teach online to help you get started in this segment.