Virtual Classroom Tips and Tricks: Facilitating Interaction in Online Classes

Virtual classroom teaching is a rewarding experience. But at first, you may find it hard to facilitate two-way interaction. It takes time get to adapt your tutoring style to the specifics of the online environment. This article looks at tips and tricks on how to create and sustain engaging and interactive courses.

Virtual classroom teaching can also be highly interactive

You may be brilliant, at creating stimulating conversations and establishing a friendly study environment with students in offline classes. But if you are a new online tutor, you may find facilitating interaction challenging. How do you know that your students are really interested in the session and prefer it to just chatting on Facebook?

VEDAMO’s Virtual Classroom offers exciting ways to monitor interaction and connect with learners, such as:

  • Participants can see and hear each other, which is quite similar to the experience in face-to-face training. This allows you to quickly glance through faces to spot any signs of disinterest.
  • A convenient Raise Hand button gives students the chance to speak during class.
  • There is also a whiteboard. With its help you can effortlessly create, edit, and present learning content.
  • Breakout rooms facilitate small-group activities to promote collaborative learning.

So, you just need to recognize the difference and embrace some new techniques!

Basically, there are three key modes of interaction in the virtual classroom environment.

Student-to-content

This type of interaction occurs when students use varied types of learning resources. Offline, the learning process tends to be a passive experience. Students listen to lessons, take notes, and rarely participate. Online, on the other hand, learners must be able to comprehend a variety of learning materials and get used to multitasking. What you need to remember is that learners have enrolled in the class because of you. Your knowledge and persona are more compelling than a textbook. So, you need to immerse yourself in the virtual classroom session in order to help students better understand the content. Here are some tricks on how to infuse yourself into the course content:

  • Ensure a warm welcome. A new online teacher may overlook the importance of the first day in the virtual classroom. That is when the syllabus and course materials are explained and the participants are introduced. This overview is critical to streamlining the processes in this new and active online environment. Imagine that you are using blended online training, which is an approach that combines self-paced learning in a Learning Management System with Virtual Classroom training. While blended learning is most effective, the model involves multiple resources. A proper course introduction will avoid any confusion and will ensure a smooth start.
  • Similarly, short “Getting Started” intros at the beginning of each session will help you and your students make sense of the content that follows.
  • Utilize a variety of learning pathways. Some people prefer text-based materials, while Gen Zs are heavy video users. Emojis and infographics are also welcome in the learning mix to break up monotony and enhance learning.
  • Leverage technology to boost efficiency. Session templates are a handy feature of VEDAMO’s Virtual Classroom. You can create a great template with visual and other learning resources, and use it as much as you want in the future. Save your time and effort for what matters most: building a connection with your students!

Teacher-to-student interaction

Once the virtual classroom is up and running, it is important to put learners at ease. No matter how useful the content is, once you start talking too much, students may feel isolated and distracted. There are some techniques to keep the lesson learner-centered:

  • Break the ice. Let learners know that they are expected to participate from the beginning. However, try to avoid standardized messages such as “To join the session…” Isn’t this a passive experience? Instead, use a more conversational style, such as “Looking forward to seeing you in our session!” Details do matter.
  • Set clear expectations. Proper guidance on assignment requirements, specific deadlines, and strict grading policies will limit confusion and anxiety. Sometimes you will gather students with diverse cultural backgrounds who have different perceptions of time. Imagine that someone sends an email on Saturday at midnight and doesn’t get a response until Sunday – they may feel disconnected! If you set expectations up front, learners will know that you are replying within 24 hours, excluding weekends, and there won’t be any hurt feelings.
  • Ask questions. That’s how you foster continuous interaction during the class. Some instructors are embarrassed to pose questions that get no response. What normally works is to ask trivia questions related to a concept, or to encourage students to share their own experiences. Don’t give up and continue trying to promote continuous conversation. Over time, learners will be more open to participation.
  • Give feedback. Students like receiving prompt and personalized feedback. Try giving both quantitative (grades) and qualitative (comments) feedback. Objective performance measurement and detailed explanations will foster connection.
  • Don’t overdo it. No matter how fun and interactive your lesson is, the optimal study time for adults is 40-60 minutes. A child’s attention span is significantly shorter; your sessions with children shouldn’t be longer than 40 minutes.

Student-to-student interaction

Finally, collaborative learning contributes to active involvement in the virtual classroom. Student-to-student interaction is fun and its ease of use boosts engagement and satisfaction. How do you get your students to talk in your virtual classroom?

  • Ask students to introduce themselves right at the beginning to set the stage.
  • Use group activities. Small groups allow learners to socialize while reflecting on the material needed to achieve a task.
  • Elicit discussions by posing thought-provoking questions.
  • Let students answer the questions of their classmates.
  • Moderate conversations and set some housekeeping rules. Avoid off-topic discussions and make it clear that rudeness and offensive language are totally unacceptable.

As a new instructor develops their virtual classroom, some challenges inevitably arise. It takes time to adapt your teaching style to the specifics of online learning. But challenges can be turned into opportunities as online learning offers new and exciting ways to connect with your students. By encouraging student-to-content, teacher-to-student, and student-to-student interactions, you will establish an inclusive and collaborative learning environment. Hone your ability to listen and remain patient, and you will enjoy a rewarding teaching experience.

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Delyana has working experience in marketing communications agencies and as a content creator, too. She is a PhD candidate in Internet Culture from Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, keen on identity building processes in the networked society. Delyana also has passion for online courses, academic research and buttercream frosting.
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