A synchronous virtual classroom is a type of elearning wherein learners go through the lessons at the same time. It is different from the asynchronous learning method wherein a more self-paced progress happens. That means creating them involves a different set of concerns and tasks – from start to finish.
For instance, in a synchronous type of learning, the interaction between the learners happen in real time. This means you need to set a up a platform that will connect everyone all at one time. This is one concern that you do not need during an asynchronous learning process.
To make your synchronous virtual classroom successful, you need to know the specific tasks that has to be taken cared of are varying moments of the course. This will help ensure that everything will go smoothly.
Before the course
This is the time before the course becomes live online. The first thing that you need to do is to familiarize yourself with the structure of the course. You want to be able to deliver it based on how it was created. And if you do not have it yet, make sure that you have a delivery schedule before you start. That way, all the participants can arrange their schedules to meet the needs of the virtual classroom.
This is also the time for you to recheck the links, resources, activities, and tools that will be used in the course. That way, you can make last minute corrections.
You should also try to get in touch with your learners to at least update their contact information. Feel free to discuss with them the course and provide them with details like their log-in instructions or the course schedule.
At the start of the course
Once the virtual classroom commences, you will be faced with a different set of tasks. Start by checking the log-in information of the learners. Make sure you are ready to troubleshoot any problems with their access. Begin the lesson with a “getting to know” activity so that the participants know who are involved in the course. It is okay to have them introduce each other. If the course requires you to group them together, now is the time to do it. Starting with an interactive atmosphere should help boost the engagement throughout the course.
Once everyone knows each other, discuss the expectations of the course. Discuss both your expectations from the learners and their expectations from their virtual classroom experience. Re-discuss the schedule to ensure that there is no conflict and that everyone will be present at all times.
In the midst of the course
As you progress through the course, you need to keep an image of a positive role model. That means sticking to the course schedule, actively participating in discussions, etc. You also want to ensure that communication is constant, relevant yet not too overwhelming. Encourage learners to communicate with each other.
Depending on the course objectives, you should implement a monitoring tool that will not only track the course outline, but also the progress of the learners involved. This should help you identify those that are lagging behind and those that needs a little more encouragement. Feel free to provide feedback on the progress and performance of the participants in your virtual classroom. Just make sure that any criticism will be constructive and never demeaning.
It is important to encourage learners to collaborate with each other. But at the same time, you also want to let them be independent in their learning. This can be done by structuring questions in such a way that will make them explore the answers on their own.
You should also be on the lookout for any technical support needs. One of your learners may be failing to participate because of technical difficulties.
After the course
At the end of the course, you want to be able to wrap up the lesson by providing a summary of everything that happened. Start a discussion that will enable learners to discuss what they learned from your virtual classroom. This will help you determine if what they got from the lesson was exactly what you were expecting. Ask learners about their feedback on your performance in the course.
If you have feedback, survey or assessment forms, this is the time to give them to your learners. You need to review these materials so you know how future courses should be improved.
You can see how tasks vary at different stages of the synchronous virtual classroom. You may want to ensure that you get as much of the task done so your course will be successful.
Image courtesy of sheelamohan for FreeDigitalPhotos.net