Web Conferencing Tips for the Virtual Classroom
There is little doubt that e-learning brings many advantages when compared to traditional methods, the greatest of which is saving time and money. Using web conferencing to create a virtual classroom, either on its own or in conjunction with a larger learning management system, is often the first place to start. Web conferencing however, is a broad topic and the technology comes in many varieties. Here are a few tips for getting started.
E-learning content for the virtual classroom must conform to the common web protocols and tools that exist in standard web browsers. The end user should not have to download large plug-ins to view the session. These standard tools will be a part of most web conferencing solutions, and in most cases, no special downloads will be required to create an efficient classroom session.
Social networking is an important component of e-learning and the virtual classroom, and these networking sites have been utilized to develop online learning communities to enhance the virtual classroom experience. Many web conferencing solutions have direct interfaces with existing social networking sites, or integrate private social networking functions to be used by the closed group only. Social networking functions along with the virtual classroom.
Web conferencing is one of several tools for delivery of virtual classroom content, but delivery is only a part of the equation. Content creation must still be considered. Some web conferencing solutions do include some content creation tools, or will at least integrate with third-party content creation tools such as PowerPoint. Before deployment, make sure that your content creation tools of choice are able to work with your web conferencing software.
There’s nothing more annoying than trying to start a virtual training session only to discover that the presentation won’t work. Take time to test it ahead of time. If you are using a phone bridge, run a test to make sure it connects. Test your headset and other equipment, including speakerphone for clarity, and run a test of the presentation itself to ensure there are no unforeseen glitches. If there are any interactive elements to your presentation, such as polls or exams, test those as well to make sure they function as expected.
Background noise is a surprisingly common problem for virtual meetings, e-learning and other types of web conferencing. If you are on a speakerphone, make sure you are in a room where there will be no interruptions or outside phone lines. Make sure all parties are aware of the need to disable their own call hold music—it’s common for a participant to put the call on hold while they step out of the room, completely unaware that doing so will pipe in their own “elevator music” to the rest of the conference.
Keep it flowing
Make a schedule and stick to it. Enforce time limits for responses and discussions, so as to avoid situations where one person dominates the conversation.