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The 5 Key Steps for an Efficient Virtual Classroom

Written by Benedetta Giuliani

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The virtual classroom is preparing to become an integral part of modern education. In this article we will examine all the necessary steps for a teacher to set up an efficient remote learning environment.

Remote learning is here to stay

With Summer ending, many countries around the world are approaching schools’ reopening after the lockdown imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Several schools are preparing to implement a hybrid teaching model, with a combination of in-person and remote teaching. In this context, it is clear that digital technology will help teachers navigate the uncharted territories of the post-pandemic world

Different surveys underline that teachers have become more tech savvy during the pandemic. Moreover, many of them plan to increase the use of technology in the classroom in the new school year.

As confirmed by the August 2020 Pearson’s Global Learner Survey, “there is no unplugging from online learning”.

Accordingly, the forced closure of schools has offered teachers an opportunity to explore the benefits which derives from integrating technology with educational methods.

However, the transition from a traditional classroom to a virtual classroom requires careful preparation. In fact, several aspects need to be taken into account, from the way digital tools will support teaching activities to the steps needed to protect the security of the virtual classroom.

The 5 steps for creating your virtual classroom

In order to help teachers in creating a functioning virtual classroom, here are the five moves necessary to set up a functioning online learning environment.

1. Safety first

In the Sanako Language Ambassador blog we have already discussed this in depth but a review is always useful. Make sure you are informed about the privacy settings of the platform you are using and the security options for scheduling a class.

Create strong passwords to protect the access to teaching sessions and be sure to connect through a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

2. Check, check

The virtual classroom must guarantee a smooth interaction between teacher and learners. Therefore, before the lessons begin, take some time before starting the livestream and carry out audio and video tests.

This preparation will reduce the risks of interruptions in the video transmission or malfunctions of microphones. 

3. Goal-setting

Planning a virtual classroom is not limited to the choices of technological devices. It is also about setting objectives and roadmaps. Define clearly what your teaching objectives are and what your students’ learning objectives are. Set a chronological framework within which these goals should be reached.

This, however, should not be never-ending. It is important to provide breaks for teachers and students to unwind a bit.

While scheduling work time is important, it’s equally important to schedule break times, which are, in fact, helpful to preventing burnout. “Allow for breaks. Many breaks, … Adults can’t even sit down for hours straight without a break. Breaks are healthy and will allow for deeper and more meaningful learning to happen. Allow for snack breaks, movement breaks, meditation breaks.”

4. A room for one’s own

The virtual classroom is unlikely to function if teachers and students do not have adequate physical space in which to conduct the lesson.

Prepare an equipped workspace inside your home and especially support your students to identify and set up their own study space. The presence of an appropriate schoolwork space, tailored on the individual’s learning style, will help students to remain more focused during the lesson.

5. Engaging and giving feedback

Maintaining students’ engagement within a virtual classroom is the major challenge of remote teaching. In this regard, communication is the key. Make sure to exploit the potential of digital tools to maintain an open channel of communication with your students.

Remember that remote teaching complicates some aspect of human interaction, but also opens up new possibilities. So, plan to use all those features that allow students to be directly involved in the lesson.

Live chat, online groups, sharing of presentations and digital surveys are just some of the instruments that help to keep students motivated and focused.

As a teacher, you will have to maintain a strong presence within the virtual classroom. Planning a strategy to give timely feedback to your students will help you to do so. 

In fact, “Well-crafted feedback … reminds students that you — a committed expert in the subject area — are guiding their learning from afar”.

Feedback will also be instrumental in monitoring students’ achievements and eventual gaps in learning. It will also provide the teachers with a valuable tool to spot the insurgence of distress among the students or the presence of deeper issues linked to particular psychological states.

Resources

M. Castelo, “How to Set Up a Virtual Classroom”, EdTech Magazine, https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2020/08/how-set-virtual-classroom

B. Giuliani, “Virtual Classroom Security Threats and How to Address Them”, Sanako Language Ambassador, https://languageambassadors.sanako.com/virtual-classroom-security-threats-and-how-to-address-them/

A.Glodowski, “Virtual Classroom Set Up: What You Need for Virtual Learning”, CNN, https://us.cnn.com/2020/08/24/cnn-underscored/virtual-classroom-set-up/index.html

V. Himmelsbach, Virtual Classrooms: The Ultimate Guide To Setting Up Your Virtual Class, Top Hat, https://tophat.com/blog/virtual-classroom/

Pearson, The Global Learners Survey August 2020, https://www.pearson.com/news-and-research/the-future-of-education/global-learner-survey.html

A.Stone, “How Schools Are Taking SEL and Mental Health Online”, EdTech Magazine, https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2020/08/how-schools-are-taking-sel-and-mental-health-online

E. Zhenzhen Gu, “Technology in Language Teaching Today”, Sanako Language Ambassador, https://languageambassadors.sanako.com/technology-in-language-teaching-today/

Wiley, “Providing Quality Feedback in Virtual Learning Environments”, https://edservices.wiley.com/quality-feedback-in-virtual-learning/

J. Viner, Nordic EdTech News #24, https://nordicedtech.substack.com/


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