The Virtual Classroom: Is It Effective?

Can a virtual classroom really be as engaging as a physical one? Mark Rogers, president and CEO of WestLake Training and Development, thinks so.

He believes that, holistically, the virtual and physical classroom provide the same learning experience, where instructors provide the knowledge and demonstrate the concepts, then students practice the application of that knowledge.

“The only difference is you don’t have to travel to a virtual classroom,” he explained. “We’re able to replicate all other functionality of the physical classroom in a virtual environment. The experience is indistinguishable. And so, the practical knowledge that a student gains in a physical classroom is the same that they would gain in a virtual classroom.”

Teaching in this virtual environment, however, differs from teaching within the four walls of a physical classroom. The onus on the trainer to engage the students is even greater and more important in the virtual classroom than the physical one.

“We have internal best practices for our instructors in teaching via the virtual classroom, which include asking a lot more questions, polling your students and soliciting their feedback more so than you would in a traditional classroom,” Rogers said. “[In a virtual classroom], the instructor doesn’t have the luxury of being able to look the student in the eye and determine whether he or she understands the content. You’ve got to draw that information out of the student, and you do that through involving them in the class, so it becomes highly interactive.”…



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