A virtual classroom seems like an exciting way to learn right? Well that excitement might be caused by a new way of learning for most students or trainees. However, you need to know that there are instances when online lessons can turn out to be lame after all.
The convenience of accessing your lessons in the comforts of your own home has its disadvantages too. For one thing, it can get distracting. Imagine sitting alone at home, trying to concentrate on your lessons while the other people in your house goes about their usual activities. Also, if a traditional classroom course takes 4 weeks to complete, do you really think you can muster the patience to complete that course at home and with all the distractions around you? Even if you have your own room to keep the noises at home from bothering you, it can get boring because you are all alone. Although a real time session can make things a bit interesting, you are still confined in front of your desktop or laptop. That can suck to a certain level.
This is why creating a virtual classroom has to be considerate of the attention span of the learners. Remember that Internet users are quite impatient. If you do not get their attention after a few seconds, they will move on to the next source of information. And when it comes to the Internet, there are many sources of data that you can easily be drowned out.
Given that, here are a few tips that can help you keep your virtual classroom from being lame.
- Do not make it too long. Every session of your online course should only be an hour or less. Any longer and your learners might feel bored already. So try to cut out the unnecessary discussions in the course. Concentrate on the important details and highlight them through keyword texts. Remove the nonessentials to the training program. If some of them are necessary to break the ice, you do not have to include them in the actual lessons. You can set them up before the lesson starts – some as messages in social networks that learners can access. Some of the initial interactions can happen before the virtual classroom actually commences.
- Use multimedia as often as you can. Videos are actually something that work really well with online courses. PowerPoint presentations can get tedious at times. Use videos and upload them on YouTube so learners can access them in between sessions. This will not only give learners some variety, it will also allow them to manipulate the video to improve retention. They can rewind and pause the video as they see fit.
- Make sure there is variety. We’ve mentioned that videos can give variety but some designers make the mistake of using it too much. Be careful not to put everything on videos. You need variety. So after each video, come up with an activity that will help emphasize the lessons that need to be learned. It can be a workbook that can be answered online or offline. It can be a discussion at a specified date and time. Organize these activities around the virtual classroom sessions.
- Create activities that will prompt learners to explore answers on their own. While the activities should primarily be answered by the information found on the video, you need to leave gaps on some of them to encourage them to research answers by themselves. This will help keep them engaged in the course.
- Know what should be discussed in every session. If the video, activities and discussions will be done outside the online course scheduled, you may want to plan what is to be discussed during every session. This will not only keep everything organized, it will also help you stay ahead of every lesson and prep the participants on what will happen next.
Use these tips to help you create a virtual classroom that is not lame but exciting and engaging.
Image courtesy of Ambro for FreeDigitalPhotos.net