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Virtual Classroom - A Learning Tool Of Prowess


Why choose virtual classroom?

Web based learning cannot rival conventional classroom training for some very obvious reasons. Since it is mostly delivered through asynchronous communication methods, it provides thin scope for interaction among the learners as well as between the learner and the instructor. It lacks the depth that an instant face to face dialogue can provide, because synchronous mode of learning is devoid of instant responses and interaction. In turn, it limits the comprehension of the student, thus reducing his interest in learning. On the other hand, a virtual classroom rids web based training of such maladies. It is essentially a cyber classroom, where the instructor and the learners can converse in real time. Thus, a virtual classroom tries to simulate in every way it can, the learning platform provided by conventional classroom, and is quite successful at that. Let us have a look at how it genuinely enhances the effect of other learning components in the learning process.

It engenders the sense of community existence among learners

The synchronous mode of communication in a virtual classroom allows immediate feedback on queries, and motivational encouragement, which provides the learners with a sense of belonging to a community. Thus, an instructor can be personally involved with learners during the course of an online chat. On the contrary, content is delivered to multiple recipients in a traditional classroom or asynchronous training mode, making it impersonal. Virtual classrooms have broken free of this stigma by harnessing technology for nurturing social interaction, instead of curtailing it. This sense of a group existence helps students to identify with fellow learners, thus keeping them glued through the course till its completion without allowing loneliness to creep in.

It helps assess learning trends among learners

Similar to a conventional classroom, a virtual classroom provides clues of student’s performance, interest and activities inside the class. In a traditional classroom, inattentiveness, restlessness, blank or quizzing expressions, or fiddling could be signs of student disinterest and lack of involvement in the course. Likewise, in a virtual classroom, an analysis of the responses and comments of the participants provide substantial cues to the level of interest and comprehension among learners. For example, the frequency of comments posted by a learner or the type of learner queries often gives an insight into the student involvement. Little wonder then, that virtual classrooms beat other components of learning - like web pages, email and forum postings, to enjoy the highest rankings as the most favored tool. And, while all the components together make the learning process more effective, learning initiatives could do well by adding more chat discussions to them.

It allows informative exchange of knowledge

An equal and active participation from both learner and instructor, and a precise two way instructive communication between them leads to the fruition of a learning process. Since asynchronous training leaves the student to flaccidly receive information from the instructor with its one-time, one-way mode of communication, the information flow is essentially one sided, at any given time. This is pure under-exploitation of the recourses thrown up by the developing technology. On the other hand, a virtual classroom assists in a meaningful, useful and informative exchange of notes between instructor-learner, and learner-learner.

It allows learning in an accustomed ambiance

Learning has always been more effective when it happens in a familiar ambience. The comparatively unidentified existence of learners in the virtual space is an added comfort factor. The cumulative effect of this results in an augmented, open and active learner participation in virtual classroom discussions, which certainly beats that in a traditional one. Also most learners are averse to speaking in front of an audience. A virtual classroom removes this hurdle for them, because of which, it has become a boiling pot of information from different sources and is synonymous with increased interaction between peers and learner-instructor. Indeed, a conventional classroom setting could never have dreamed of attaining this. Simply put, a virtual classroom liberates learners from the shackles of geographical distance, discriminations, and inhibitions.

It provides an egalitarian platform for learners

Being devoid of props such as the dais, stage lights, or the front and back row, the virtual classroom is one step ahead of its conventional counterpart, in that it provides a leveled platform for all. There is no raising of hands to answer questions, and learners who answer are not differentiated from others, since there is no standing up required to give answers. Apart from this, learners are spared the hassle of dealing with discrimination on the basis of gender, race, or any physical constraints. And even though the instructor leads the discussion, he is recognized from the learners only by his screen name. Each learner too, has a unique screen name and merit of the learners’ comments and opinions is the only criterion that separates them from one another. The virtual classroom practically makes learners lose their fear of teachers - that is a part of the traditional classroom set-up - although the instructor remains the guiding force of the whole class.

It allows instructors to experience the joy of learner ‘Nirvana’

Instructors of online courses often crib about missing the spark of realization on their students’ face that ensues a thorough understanding of a concept. But, unlike popular belief, learner nirvana can very well be experienced in a virtual classroom. The nature of learner responses and comments often reveals the comprehension levels of a student, allowing the instructor to enjoy the experience of a learner exactly grabbing the soul of a concept. The experience of seeing a relatively fresh mind imbibe the essence of a concept is like being the hand on the potter’s wheel. This is the best award for their teaching endeavor, not only because it proves the effectiveness of their teaching method, but also because it displays the perfect camaraderie that is shared by them.

Epilogue

Even though other components of an online learning initiative cannot be sidetracked by virtual classrooms, including more online chat in the courseware explains, improves and strengthens the concepts that are laid down by other asynchronous components. Obviously, a web based learning initiative is incomplete without virtual classrooms.

Submitted by:

Vishwanath Shankar

Vishwanath Shankar has been managing and maintaining online learning management system for the past decade and a half in tandem with experts in web development services. A storehouse of knowledge about LMS (Learning Management Systems), he is aware of the impact aicc LMS distance learning can have on the academic as well as corporate learning. He has been working in close co-ordination with organizations offering web design services to develop user friendly distance learning programs.





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