Effective Delivery Essentials in the Virtual Classroom

Written by Jennifer Balcom, Senior Consultant, Explorance.



Tip #1: Keep your class environment dynamic – video ON!

In your virtual classroom, whether you’ve designed your session to be a webinar or interactive, if you are the instructor, turn on your video. For webinars, you’re engaging your listeners who can connect with you personally. Take a cue from all of the very successful and engaging YouTube personalities with millions of subscribers – they turn on their videos. And if it’s an interactive virtual classroom session, set the “video on” expectation before the entire class and ask everyone to turn on their video. To make it easy, when you set up your virtual session, set “video on for all” as a default. Remember, the virtual classroom is, in fact, a classroom, and when you’re in a live class, you and your students see each other and get visual cues. The virtual classroom should be just as dynamic an experience – so turn on your video and connect!

Tip #2: Have a class “producer” or co-teacher

Just as with the live sessions, you have tools to facilitate learning in the virtual classroom. Many of the virtual classrooms have tools such as polls, annotation, screen sharing, digital whiteboards, and break out rooms. These are how you engage your students in collaborating with the content to make them partners in learning. If you’re not an expert in the tools, or even if you are, find someone to be your “producer.”

Think of the producer role as your support instructor. Their role is to help with the tools and keep the class running smoothly while you deliver the content. Some examples of what a producer can do are:

  • Launch tools such as polls or whiteboards and demonstrate how to use them
  • Provide technical support for the students without interrupting so the instructor can continue to teach the class
  • Serve as instructor support – watch the chat for questions or comments, rephrase questions for clarity or, in the unfortunate event that the main instructor is disconnected, keep the class moving while the instructor reconnects

Tip #3: Connect beyond the virtual class session

Learning is more than an event, and engaging with your students should happen beyond the classroom – in-person or virtual. As the instructor, you are the “face” of learning for students. You should find ways to connect with them before, between, or after class, especially if it involves multiple sessions.

A few ways you can connect with students before, between, or after sessions are:

  • Send an article to read or a video to watch
  • Ask questions to assess understanding, start a discussion or provoke thought
  • Follow up with learners to check for clarity or see if they have additional questions

With a tool like Bluepulse, sharing content, asking questions, and following up with learners can be done in one place to allow you, and the entire class, to stay connected easily.

Tip #4 Give clear instructions and a classroom orientation

Just as you would do in a live classroom, go over the logistics at the start of class. Show users where to find the emojis and feedback tools. Have them practice using them, for example:

  • Ask them to raise and lower their hands
  • Show where the “stepped away” emoji is and request they use it if they do step away
  • Have the class use the annotation tools to introduce themselves to the class

Tip #5 Hold a Rehearsal and a Dress Rehearsal

Preparation is key, and it is even more critical in a virtual classroom. While this may be an obvious step, it can be easily overlooked or not done thoroughly. You don’t need to deliver your presentation word for word, especially if you’re an experienced instructor. What’s most important is to build your confidence with the virtual classroom tools and ensure that they work properly for students.

Key parts of successful preparation include:

  • Run through the class by yourself in the online environment as if you are teaching – rehearse the content and test all the tools for interaction
  • Record your solo practice session and review it to assess areas for improvement
  • With at least two other people as a test audience, run through an abbreviated version of your class. Present all the content to ensure that the students can view it. Be sure to test each tool and interaction to ensure students can interact successfully

Also, consider asking your test audience to fill in a post-class survey just as you would to gather student feedback. With a tool like Metrics That Matter, you can easily create a survey specific to the virtual classroom, share on-screen a QR code to scan with a mobile phone or chat a link to the online survey. You can then test your survey and use that feedback to adjust for the live session.

While shifting from an in-person to a virtual classroom is an adjustment, it is also possible to make it an effective delivery experience for both instructors and students. As instructors, we may be asked at times to “think on our feet,” and with the virtual classroom, it’s no different! With some practice and preparation, you may even find that you enjoy giving your students an engaging learning experience in an online environment.

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