The simplest ways to conduct tutorial sessions online is via IVLE chat rooms (live) or IVLE discussion forums (asynchronous). However, you may want a more dynamic and interactive environment to conduct your lessons. This is where web conferencing is useful.
The Virtual Classroom (not to be confused with a 3D virtual world such as Second Life), powered by Centra on both Windows and Mac, allows you to conduct a class online, much like you would in real life.
- share presentations, documents or applications on screen with your students
- communicate with students via voice and text
- use a whiteboard for annotation and collaboration
- display video of yourself
- record sessions for playback later
View a demo of the capabilities of the Virtual Classroom
(Skip intro, then click Centra Live. The Participant and Leader interfaces are most relevant.)
Practical tips for using the Virtual Classroom
Brief the students. First time users may require some guidance before using the Virtual Classroom. You can provide them with this quick reference guide. Also, you can quickly run through some basic functions they will use during the session. For example, you might want to show them how to virtually raise their hands to ask a question, and to indicate if they have stepped away from the computer if they have done so.
Real-life factors. Latecomers will still exist. If the participants are at home, they might get distracted by going-ons in the house. It helps to be aware of these pitfalls, so that you do not get too flustered if it happens.
Moderate expectations. The level of interaction in the Virtual Classroom cannot match a face-to-face experience. Experienced users may be able to come close, but the occasional user may perceive a lag in communication as participants must take turns to be involved. There is also the issue of diminished visual and non-verbal cues as the teacher cannot see the students. Therefore the instructor has to be pro-active in soliciting feedback regarding their understanding of a topic. (Simple quizzes or polls can help to achieve this.)
Start using the Virtual Classroom
The first question to ask is whether the Virtual Classroom is the ideal tool for your needs. The Virtual Classroom is suited to:
- tutorial-size classes that require two-way interaction; or
- users who have small group discussions within a tutorial; and
- users who are comfortable with online technology
If your class fits the bill, and you are interested in using the Virtual Classroom, please contact MR Jum'main MOHD WAHID to set up your Virtual Classroom.