The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed our methods of communication, and teaching is no exception. Many teachers have had to adapt to new ways of teaching, with virtual classrooms rising in popularity as a method of learning and communicating. Teaching virtually can bring benefits, but it may take some adjustment time.
The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed our methods of communication, and teaching is no exception.
Many teachers have had to adapt to new ways of teaching, with virtual classrooms rising in popularity as a method of learning and communicating.
Teaching virtually can bring benefits, but it may take some adjustment time.
What is a Virtual Classroom?
A virtual classroom is any online learning environment that allows a teacher and student(s) to interact and participate in learning activities together, just as they would in a classroom. The teacher usually leads the class and helps to moderate discussion and keep it on track.
A virtual classroom can be combined with traditional classroom learning activities to deliver a blended learning experience.
There are many tools available to help facilitate virtual classrooms, including different video conferencing websites, online whiteboard tools, virtual storage areas for uploading and sharing resources, and websites that provide free resources and educational seminars.
Advantages of Virtual Learning
- Increased flexibility and accessibility.
- Diverse learning experiences – pupils have an opportunity to try different learning methods.
- A wide range of available online resources which you can access and share with your students. There are also websites that include interactive resources, such as quizzes that mark as they go, as well as interactive teaching tools.
- Facilitation of both individual and group work, depending on the age of the students you teach and the subject you’re teaching. In some circumstances, virtual learning can actually lead to more one-to-one interaction and support between teachers and students.
- Higher retention rates – research has shown that students retain 25-60% more material when they learn online, compared to only 8-10% in the classroom.
Challenges of Online Teaching
- Internet access and connectivity issues.
- Lack of access to a device or the internet – students could fall behind, increasing existing attainment gaps.
- A lack of social interaction, which can leave students feeling isolated.
- A lack of support or adequate training for some teachers.
- A reduced ability for students to ask questions.
- The distractions that come with being at home.
- Added consideration that must be given to fulfilling safeguarding duties remotely.
Ideas & Tips
Here are some useful tips for online teaching and learning:
- Break the ice – virtual classrooms can feel a little awkward to begin with, so an icebreaker activity is a good way to ease into the class.
- Include interactivity – discuss ideas together as a class, encourage students to ask for feedback or complete some peer evaluation, split students into groups for collaborative tasks or discussions, or host a Q&A session.
- Make it engaging – while you might not be able to control the distractions at home, you can try to keep pupils on track by making it engaging.
- Plan your sessions in advance – make sure to include variety in both your content and presentation.
- Encourage socialising – try to reduce students’ isolation by setting up some virtual social sessions (whilst always bearing in mind safeguarding requirements).
- Communicate with parents – check that they feel supported, both in terms of facilitating the learning and having access to any necessary resources.
Know Your Safeguarding Responsibilities
Finally, make sure you know your safeguarding responsibilities and what is required of you for your virtual classroom.
Follow your school’s virtual learning policy (covering recording sessions, required numbers of adults in the virtual classroom, and other virtual learning protocols) and always remain vigilant to safeguarding concerns, reporting any concerns immediately.
Claire Watts, HighSpeed Training