A virtual classroom is no new concept. It was set up by eLearning experts, course creators, and other experts teaching online even before the pandemic.
Due to the unexpected shift of learning last 2020, this became a trend around the world. According to GMI Research, the global virtual classroom market will drive revenue of $9515.2 million by 2025.
It will stick even after COVID. So how can you set up a virtual classroom? Why should you set it up? What is the step-by-step procedure?
We will go through all these later. First, let’s define what a virtual classroom is.
What is a Virtual Classroom
In simplest term, a Virtual Classroom is an online learning environment.
It’s where teachers, professors, or subject-matter experts teach or facilitate learning discussions. Students who want to learn the skill can join the class.
Moreover, it’s no different from the typical classroom we have in schools. A virtual classroom uses technology tools, platforms, and equipment.
Virtual Classroom Types
Exploring different types of a virtual classrooms will help you to set it up.
- MOOCs - or the self-paced form of learning. It’s where experts or teachers pre-recorded themselves and make it available for students to learn at their own pace.
- Cohort-based courses - rising in popularity. Instructors conduct live sessions with a cohort of learners.
- Hybrid - a mix of asynchronous and synchronous learning sessions.
- 1-on-1s - live calls between a mentor/coach and a student/learner.
Who sets up a Virtual Classroom
Typically, teachers set up virtual classrooms during the pandemic. Due to the rise of eLearning, there are also other categories that set it up to teach online.
- Subject-matter experts
- Corporate trainers
- Consultants, coaches, mentors
- Bootcamps, micro-schools, and online academies
- Traditional schools and institutions that are expanding to eLearning
Keep reading if you classify yourself as one of the above.
Benefits & Advantages
Here are the advantages you can get in setting up a virtual classroom.
You don’t need to rent a space or build a physical school to set up a virtual classroom. All you need are equipment, tools, the right technology—which we will talk about later, and the knowledge to get started.
Students from anywhere in the world can join. Whether they are located in Indonesia, South Africa, or the USA--they can participate and access your content.
Because learning happens at home, at your desk, anywhere in the world. Even disabled persons can join your virtual classes.
Teachers and experts can save time through automation. They can automate tasks that they do manually before. These tasks are reporting, grading, assessment, etc
Learning to use technology
Students will learn how to use technology tools and platforms—which is a must-have skill nowadays.
Your Ultimate Guide to Set Up a Virtual Classroom
To make it simple to follow, let’s separate the tasks into two categories: the organizational setup and the technical setup.
A thing to note: Virtual classrooms are set up mostly for live sessions and hybrid models. This guide directs it to these types of formats.
This is where you plan, organize, and manage your content and students.
1. Manage Content
First comes first. Traditional content needs some work to do when switching it to a digital content format. So better to prep up your modules, lesson plans, and curriculum in place!
Also, deciding which course format you should use can help in redesigning your curriculum. Do you plan to have it self-paced where you pre-recorded yourself? Or conduct it live with your class? Or a mix of synchronous and asynchronous formats?
Another thing to note is the teaching methods. eLearning pedagogies are still similar to the traditional ones. But the implementation makes it a bit different. Some of the most-used pedagogies online are flipped classrooms, project-based learning, gamification, and collaborative learning.
2. Set Goals, Rules, & Routines
Similar to traditional classrooms, it is important to set up your goals, rules, and routines. It helps to create a harmonious learning environment. Because everybody is in sync.
Virtual rules and routines differ from traditional ones. Therefore, you need to base it on the platforms and apps that you are going to use. This is mostly used for live sessions, community discussions, and forums.
- Always mute your mic when you are not talking
- Turn on your cameras during the live classes
- Click the "raise-hand" button when you have questions
- Use constructive and objective peer feedback
- Don't use foul words in chat
- Attendance is checked when the class starts
- Post-class questions are open for 30-mins
- And so much more!
Important note: This may be a lot for students. And you want them to follow these rules & routines! So, you can make it fun a little by gamifying it. See if it works.
3. Choose Features & Activities
After deciding on your course format and pedagogies, let's move to the features and activities. So what are these?
What are the planned-out activities in your curriculum? Examples are icebreakers, break-out sessions, peer reviews, short quizzes etc. Based on your activities and course format, what are the must-have features of your learning platform? Example features are:
- Attendance tracking
- Live conference
- App integration
- Community builder
- Class scheduling
- Analytics & reporting
- Peer review
- Discussion threads and forums
- Direct messaging
- And so much more!
Later, we will discuss how to choose a learning platform for your virtual classroom.
We are done with the organizational setup. So what's next? Let's go to the technicalities. It is important to discuss the equipment, tools, and technology since virtual classrooms are online learning environments.
4. Familiarize with hardware and internet connection
The main things you need are an internet connection, laptop/desktop, and mic & webcam--which are usually built-in in most laptops. If you are using a desktop, feel free to buy these two on Amazon or nearby shops.
You should familiarize yourself with setting up these things. Some tips are:
- check your internet speed so you won't be laggy during live sessions
- know how to troubleshoot your internet and hardware. Or look for someone who knows
- familiarize yourself with how your laptop/desktop functions
- make sure to connect your mic and webcam rightly to your desktop
- test out your mic and webcam settings if you are using a laptop
5. Set up your physical workspace
Now that your hardware and internet connection is good to go, it is time set up your physical workspace. If you are teaching from home, you can choose the room you are going to set up your workspace. If you are teaching from school or at the office, here's a checklist to help you out:
- make sure you are comfortable
- little to no distraction at all
- a quiet place that will let you think and speak clearly
- minimalist background
- space for additional tools such as whiteboard, teaching props, etc
Or, you can explore this course on how to set up your home video like Hollywood!
6. Choose your learning platform
Virtual classrooms need a platform where you can conduct everything in one place. Unfortunately, you cannot conduct it on Facebook live, Youtube lives, etc because it is limited in student collaboration.
You can use Zoom for video and live conferences, Google docs for learning materials, Kahoot for games, and Discord for communication and discussions. However, these tools are not integrated with each other.
They have limitations. You can't do quizzes, surveys, peer reviews, etc. You need to look for another app. It's time-consuming, messy, and chaotic!
That's why most teachers, trainers, and any person who teaches online look for an all-in-one platform that simplifies their life. These learning platforms have all the features you need in one place. Most of them have app integrations where you can integrate an additional app into the platform.
So, you need to choose the Learning Management System or the learning platform you would like to use for your virtual classroom. Here's a list to choose from.
Last Step: Do a trial before starting a class
Now that you set up both organizational and technical steps, do a trial before starting your first class. Why? You would want to make sure everything works perfectly.
Teaching online for the first time isn't easy at all. You need to learn and work at the same time, technical and content-wise.
So, I hope this ultimate guide helps you to set up your virtual classroom. As well as, discover different resources, formats, and methods along the way.
Let us know how it went! We'd love to hear your story. Tag us on Twitter and LinkedIn!