Every day, travel budgets are cut and organizations are struggling to find ways to connect with each other to share and present information. Every day, workers are being laid off or leaving their organizations, which creates a recurring need to train new people. Every day, educators are trying to find better ways of transferring knowledge so it becomes more effective to their organizations or the workforce.
Virtual classrooms are becoming more popular these days, due to the fact that they are contributing as a primary solution to the challenges mentioned earlier. What initially makes virtual classrooms an effective solution is the concept of not requiring the learner to travel to a physical location to consume knowledge or materials.
Learners and instructors can all connect into a virtual classroom at the same time through various devices like a computer, tablet, smart phone, or even a properly configured television. Combined with other technologies like webcams and VOIP, learners can see and hear in a similar fashion as if they were physically in the same room. This allows for real-time presentations, questions, answers, and peer to peer collaboration. None of the traditional facilitation techniques are lost. Surprisingly, with the use of virtual classroom technology, some of these techniques, like peer to peer interaction, are enhanced. The ability to come together in this virtual way saves organizations tens of thousands of dollars every year.
Virtual Classroom Benefits
In many cases, setting up a virtual learning space has become very easy and fast, which allow organizations to be flexible with the demand of training. Much of this demand is driven by workforce turnover and new hires. Being able to easily adjust and setup virtual class sessions to address the ever-changing training demand gets new hires trained faster and productive sooner.
It doesn’t just stop at the benefits of sooner productivity. Learning effectiveness has become a huge benefit as well. Virtual classrooms have become part of a blended learning approach. Recent research from the U.S. Department of Education, in 2009, shows that on average, students in “online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.”
Because virtual classrooms can be part of a larger virtual community, other learning tools like on-demand courses, assignments, assessments, and prescriptive curriculums all contribute to this blended learning approach.
At the end of the day, virtual classrooms can save your organization money, allow greater flexibility in the delivery of your training, and make your workforce more productive and effective.
 Barbara Means et al., “Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in On-line Learning” (U.S. Department of Education, 2009)
Photo credit: austinevan on flickr
Post contributed by Paul Ingallinera, Learning Solutions Consultant