Leading Successful Virtual Classroom Sessions
Start small. If you’re new to teaching online or hesitant to teach via virtual classrooms, start small if you can.
Practice. Do a full run through with an audience of two or more before your first session. You likely know the content already, so focus on the turns and transitions. Those are the parts that can make us feel overwhelmed and frazzled in front of a live audience.
Be prepared. For each and every VC session, be organized with windows open and documents ready to load, prior to joining. You should not need more than a minute or two to get started, once everyone has joined. If you have several documents to load into the session, give the learners a specific question or topic to discuss while you get set up, so they aren’t sitting idle.
In your very first VC session with a new group of learners, it is recommended to set rules and expectations for your learners and yourself, so the sessions can run smoothly, minimize interruptions, and hold everyone accountable for contributing to an effective learning experience.
Some rules you may want to consider:
Gathered from research for successful online learning, there are several things you should keep in mind through your delivery of any and all VC sessions.
Provide an agenda. An agenda can help keep you as the instructor accountable throughout the session and provides a guideline of what learners are going to learn and when.
Use the chat window for introductions. Instead of going around and having everyone introduce themselves (which can take a significant chunk of time even for a small group), give everyone a minute to post their introduction in the chat, and monitor as the responses come in. You can then take an extra minute or two to callout a few participants. This also serves as a reference if you need to go back and remember who your participants are throughout the session.
Confirm prerequisites with participants. If there was a required reading or assignment that should have been completed before the VC session, confirm that all learners have in fact completed it, and if learners haven’t, consider not letting them participate in that session, as it can take away from the experience for those that have fulfilled the requisites.
There are several features that you can use to enhance the learning experience within a virtual classroom.
Don’t overcomplicate the questions, or you may confuse learners, and to cater to multiple learning styles by reading the question and posting it in chat. Once you publish, the poll is closed and locked from further participation.
The whiteboard allows you to write and draw for all participants to see, and all activity on the whiteboard is documented in the recording.
Breakout Rooms (only available for Premium users)
Record and archive sessions so they can be:
Chat and Status
It is important to be able to present while monitoring feedback venues. Train yourself to see when someone puts something in the chat or changes their status, then over time, let yourself become more comfortable with acknowledging and responding to those pieces of feedback more seamlessly.
Use webcam when possible. Encourage all participants to turn theirs on as it holds learners accountable for staying focused, not playing phone, doing other things, etc.
Whoever is presenter can upload and share documents (pdf, ppt, word doc, image). Several presentations can be loaded and switched between during a session. The presenter can also use the whiteboard drawing tools over any document to simulate mark up.
Çakýroðlu, Ü. (2014, June). Evaluating students’ perspectives about virtual classrooms with regard to Seven Principles of Good Practice. South African Journal of Education, 34(2), 01-19. Retrieved from http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0256-01002014000200019
Foederer, M. (2015, August 11). 6 Simple Tips for a More Productive Virtual Classroom. Itpreneurs. Retrieved from https://www.itpreneurs.com/blog/6-simple-tips-for-a-more-productive-virtual-classroom/
Martin, F. & Parker M. (2014, June). Use of Synchronous Virtual Classrooms: Why, Who, and How? Online Journal of Learning and Teaching, 10(2), 192-210. Retrieved from http://jolt.merlot.org/Vol10_No2.htm
McKinnie, R. (2008). Best Practices for Delivering Virtual Classroom Training. Retrieved from https://www.elearningguild.com/showfile.cfm?id=3159