Online learning programs involve virtual classrooms, which are enabled by a webcam or video conferencing camera, video conferencing software, and an instructor and students working together. In this post, we'll dig into everything you need to know about virtual classrooms, whether you're a prospective student or a virtual educator.
A virtual classroom is an online teaching and learning environment where teachers and students can present course materials, engage and interact with other members of the virtual class, and work in groups together. The key distinction of a virtual classroom is that it takes place in a live, synchronous setting. Online coursework can involve the viewing of pre-recorded, asynchronous material, but virtual classroom settings involve live interaction between instructors and participants.
So what does a virtual classroom look like? Virtual classrooms can vary in appearance depending on the software or platform being used, but they generally share some common features. Here are a few typical features of virtual classrooms:
Aside from the standard elements of virtual classrooms, there are also a few cutting-edge features, such as:
There are a few different types of programs that are delivered via virtual classrooms, the most common of which we'll explain below:
MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, are virtual classes that are available for anyone to enroll and participate in. MOOC providers offer different types of courses. Some are accredited, and some are not; some are offered through universities, and some are not; some are free, and some require tuition, and some are offered with live virtual classroom work and some are not. Examples of MOOCs include courses offered through Coursera and edX.
Bootcamps are another example of courses that can take place using virtual classrooms. Bootcamps for web development, graphic design, and data analytics (among many others) are offered in virtual or in-person settings and provide students with concentrated education and training in an industry they're trying to break into or advance in. Examples of bootcamp providers include Thinkful, General Assembly, and Galvanize.
Online degree programs are offered by colleges and universities to deliver their degree programs in a virtual environment. Using online program management companies or their own internal resources, schools can recruit online students for their degree programs that are delivered into a webcam instead of a lecture hall. Many different schools offer online degree programs - here's a comprehensive list of accredited programs.
Virtual classrooms, hybrid classrooms, and traditional classrooms are all different types of learning environments that can be used to deliver education. Each type of classroom has its own unique benefits and drawbacks. Now that we know more about virtual classrooms, let’s see how the other types compare to them.
Ultimately, the best type of classroom for a particular student will depend on their individual needs and preferences.
Virtual classrooms are undoubtedly much easier for students to learn new subjects and skills. Online learning makes it possible for working professionals, people with busy home lives, or people with fewer financial resources to learn new skills and grow their knowledge.
Similarly, MOOCs, online learning platforms, bootcamps, and online degree programs make it possible for institutions and educators to share and monetize their training and teaching without having to travel to different locations to do so.
For colleges and universities that are trying to grow their brand presence and attract more students, offering online courses delivered through virtual classrooms can be a smart way to reach more students who aren't in their geographic area.