Traditionally, the school has been the place where learners and teachers meet each other day for the purposes of instilling knowledge. However, with the advent of computer technologies in the early 1990s, many products and solutions have been developed to fully exploit the internet. Since then, virtual learning environments (abbreviated as VLEs) have emerged to supporting teaching and learning activities across the internet. These days, we have something called the virtual classroom.
A virtual classroom is typically an online learning system where both the learners and tutors/teachers communicate to each other just like the real classroom but from different geographical locations. The system comprises of all the basic tools required to run effectively a classroom. Communication among the participants can be achieved in various ways like text chat, live video, live audio, and so on. Among the basic tools is the whiteboard, which is incredibly similar to the blackboard found in a real classroom. By and large, there is much application that supports this kind of learning and offers all the basic tools required. One of the best solutions is ezTalks Cloud Meeting app.
That being said, learning institutions that might be considering following this latest trend might want to take a look at some of the virtual classroom advantages and disadvantages. Let’s start with the benefits of virtual classroom:
1. Increased convenience
It is undeniable that virtual classroom removed the limitation of time and location, a common challenge in a traditional classroom. With uplift of these limitations, learners have the freedom to study and finish the coursework anytime, anywhere. Learners also have the freedom to engage with other on classroom topics, do the assignment, absorb class content, or take exams at a time or duration that best fits their schedule.
2. Effective time management
Learning online provides working class adults the idea environment needed to balance between work, family, and the demand of going back to school. If you are such a person, you will require a classroom that helps you manage your time effectively, and virtual classroom achieves it. Attending virtual classes at the comfort of your living room saves many hours that could otherwise be used to commute forth and back to classes on a campus.
3. Sharped digital skills
Another virtual classroom advantage that many people find to be very interesting is the sharpening of one’s digital skills. While increasing your skills and knowledge in your area of study, you are the same time sharpening your digital skills on some of the most sophisticated online learning solutions. As you progress learning in an online world, you will soon become highly productive and confident using interactive online learning tools ezTalks Cloud Meeting app, collaboration tool, teleconferencing solutions, and so on.
Another virtual classroom benefits are looking from the affordability point of view. The cost required to set up a classroom and distance learning management system compare incredibly favorable with the cost of building or expanding additional real classrooms to take up extra students. These savings can typically be passed onto the learners, where they are required to pay less of the school fees.
5. Immediate feedback on exams and tests
Getting instant feedback on exams and tests is another great advantage of virtual classroom. If you are enrolled in an online degree program, you do not have to wait for days or weeks to receive your scores. Exams, assignments, or tests taken online are usually scored as soon the learner finishes. This helps in tracking the progress of the student and it indicates weak areas for improvement.
Though there certainly are not as many disadvantages as advantages, there’re some few elements of using a virtual classroom that some users might consider a shortcoming. Here below are a few of them:
1. The need for extra training
One disadvantage of virtual classroom is the fact some trainers and students are not confident using digital e-Learning tools. Some instructors face challenges in acquiring and adopting the technology and most of them report technical problems. Besides that, some online teachers have problems preparing study materials in the soft format. All these and much more may require additional support to get up and running. This explains why it may be necessary to have an IT support conducting training here and there.
2. Infrastructural challenges
Challenges related to infrastructure are considered as one of the main disadvantages of a virtual classroom. Initial adoption of the technology needs massive and good network infrastructure perhaps to carry heavy traffic. Although these days we have highly affordable solutions, the cost of installing such infrastructures is extremely high and some institution might not afford.
As earlier mentioned, there are a few demerits of integrating a virtual classroom into a teaching school environment, and there is no doubt that there are immensely outweighed by the many benefits. The bottom line here is that any learning institution that wants to offer online classes should be ready to invest in a good virtual classroom and learning management system.