Gone are the days when education and learning were limited to a physical location. Technological advancement has completely transformed the way information and education is being delivered. The flexibility of not being time bound or confined to a geographical location has empowered students to learn at their own pace. Online certificates and degrees are widely accepted by global universities and organisations. ‘Virtual learning’ that once was criticized for having poor credibility is now redefining the meaning of education in this fast-paced and extremely globalized world.
Owing to the increasing popularity of e-learning programs the key discussion has shifted from credibility to creative delivery methods and student engagement in virtual classrooms. Facilitators and tutors of online programs must understand that virtual classroom interactions are very different form a traditional one. They need to take into consideration the choice of media that would be most suitable for the successful delivery of the program. Documents, audio, case studies, podcasts, blogs, videos, live chats, slides and discussion boards are some of the ways to ensure there is variety in the way learners consume information. A good point to remember is that a two-way interaction is immensely important in virtual classrooms. It helps in ensuring the effective transfer of learning.
Tools such as ‘VoiceThread’ which allow students to comment using audio is essential in engaging students as it is quick and adds a personal element. Story telling followed by a discussion is another way of creatively presenting a topic that might appear as dull and boring. Case studies and scenarios encourage students to apply the theoretical concepts creatively to a real-time situation. It helps in understanding different perspectives and deriving insights from the discussions. It is especially beneficial in an online class as students have a variety of experiences owing to their geographical and cultural differences.
Online video presentations and discussions further enhance the feeling of community, which is an important criterion in striking an emotional chord between peers. In order to break the ice and ensure their creative minds are working at their best; a safe environment needs to be created. The faculty can share a few relatable examples or a personal experience to help them open to the idea of sharing their own experiences without hesitation. In addition, group projects that transcend beyond the classroom would help them continue the discussion further, and more creative solutions can be derived from these interactions.