Tips for organising online sessions in the VEDAMO Virtual Classroom

Keeping in mind the variety of functionalities and tools of VEDAMO Virtual Classroom is of utmost importance for their maximum potential to be used in view of achieving high interest and attention throughout the study session.

For the organisation of the virtual study sessions the common tripartite model is recommended:

  1. Introduction – activating previous knowledge and relating it to new knowledge
  2. The Main Body – presentation and practice
  3. Conclusion – summary, reflection, application

Part I: Introduction – activating previous knowledge and relating it to new knowledge

Key points in the lesson are introduced through real life examples relevant to learners’ experience. Specific imaginary situations, intriguing facts from celebrities’ lives, popular films, songs, quotes can all be used to this end. Motivate learners by telling them how the new knowledge will contribute to what they already know. (This can be achieved by assigning them a problem-solving task.) Point out the key moments in the lesson.

Part II: The Main Body – presentation and practice

In the main body new key knowledge is presented and demonstrated. This can be done by simple examples for practice and experimenting with new knowledge. Alternation of presenting new key knowledge and time for its comprehension and practice is repeated according to the number of key knowledge items. These items must not be more than 5. New knowledge is introduced through the presentation of information which has been adapted for the learners’ age. Key knowledge may be upgraded where suitable. New knowledge can be illustrated by additional examples like: images, diagrams, tables, etc. This facilitates the transition between learning and skills acquisition. Exercises in the lesson are graded by difficulty.

Part III: Conclusion – summary, reflection, application

In the final part of the lesson a succinct revision is done on key knowledge and main points presented in the introductory part. Time for reflection is provided. For this purpose you can assign homework which requires creativity and analytical thinking. The learner is given a situation which requires more in-depth thinking, comprehension of the material learned and demonstrating new knowledge and skills.
The virtual learning environment facilitates the implementation of the educational aims and the study activities in three basic forms:

  • Interaction – between participants and acquisition of study content on the part of the participants (constructivist’s approach);
  • Presenting and supporting a thesis (discourse) by means of presenting, explaining and discussing study content in the form of a text, images, video and audio materials, etc. (cognitive constructivism);
  • Teamwork – collaboration/ teamwork in small and large groups leading up to the development of these opinions, decisions, etc. (social constructivism).

The flexible nature of VEDAMO Virtual Classroom is due to the variety of opportunities for working with its tools. We will look at the most basic ones which for VEDAMO are:

  • Video-conference connection, video boxes (personalised/mosaic)
  • Interactive Whiteboard
  • File Editor
  • Instant Messaging (chat)
  • Note-taking and Archiving
  • Media Player (audio and video reproduction channel)
  • Screen Sharing
  • Breakout Rooms (for small group of individual work)
  • Raise Hand Button (to ask for a permission to speak)
  • Session Templates
  • Classroom Management Tools (manage the access of participants to specific functionalities

We must remember one thing: all functionalities in VEDAMO Virtual Classroom are only a tool for the implementation of our creativity as teachers. The examples of their application hint at possible variants for the implementation of an educational lesson, and do not in any way restrict their application in the proposed way. We’ve designed the tools so as to facilitate interactivity, discourse and teamwork.

Note also that teachers use different methods depending on the subject discipline. In the social and human sciences it is discussion methods, role plays, project work, case discussions, and case studies which are much more common. With mathematics and natural sciences demonstrations, simulations and workshops prevail.

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Dr. Veronica Racheva is managing VEDAMO’s training programme. Veronica is a PhD in Theory of Education. She graduated from the Doctoral School at the Institute of Education, University of London and has a specialisation for a Virtual Teacher from the University of California, Irvine. Currently, she is a CEO of a Bulgarian K12 online academy, based on VEDAMO e-learning infrastructure. She is also a lecturer in E-learning at the Sofia University, researcher and author of scientific reports.