According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), over 1.2 billion children worldwide are out of the classroom.
This has resulted in students adopting online learning and as a result, education has changed dramatically with the distinctive rise of e-learning- where teaching is undertaken remotely and via digital platforms.
A virtual classroom is an online learning environment that allows live interaction between the tutor and the learners as they are participating in learning activities. It can also be termed as a shared online space where the learners and the tutor work together simultaneously.
Educators believe that for effective virtual learning, there are some factors that need to be put into consideration as far as online classes are concerned.
Origene Igiraneza, the founder and CEO of O’Genius Panda, a web-based platform that provides access to quality education for all with relevance to the job market and real life world by use of technology, believes that virtual classes can sometimes be more demanding than a traditional classroom setting.
For this reason, he says it’s vital for educators or instructors and students to be more focused so that the whole process of learning becomes effective and productive.
He says for effective learning; there are some things that should be put into consideration in order to keep both the teacher and student accountable and tuned in throughout the whole process of learning.
“The most important aspect to put into consideration is communication, although this can get complicated most of the time because it’s a new model and students have tons of distraction at their disposal. The instructors hence should be extremely prepared in order to get the best results,” Igiraneza says.
He also points out that another factor to acknowledge is ensuring that students stay engaged throughout the session and that sessions too should not be very lengthy.
Dr Andrew E. Ivang from the Department of Clinical Biology – Huye campus, University of Rwanda, says for instructors, establishing effective communication with students is essential to getting the most out of the virtual classroom.
In addition to this, he recommends that instructors ask numerous questions than they normally do in a normal classroom setting. This he says will be of more help because here learners cannot see the instructor as they would in a natural setting.
“So the only way out is to use your voice, training, content and the questions to elongate the learner’s attention span,” he says.
Besides, Ivang adds that depending on the tools one uses for virtual delivery, as an instructor, splitting up the class into different groups for assignments is important.
“This way, each group can work separately on a specific exercise. When this is done, an instructor can still visit each individual group and provide guidance and support where necessary,” he says.
Timing is important
Igiraneza points out that there is also a need for the instructor to understand what the best time is to capture the attention of learners.
“For the students, having the best stable internet is very key because then they can avoid interruptions caused by an on and off connection,” he says.
He adds that instructors ought to recognise that for their lessons to be effective, they need to understand that students love to be in a set up that is a little bit different from the normal classroom for them to feel connected to this new learning method.
For Igiraneza, ensuring that all the students are on the same level of understanding is very important and that students too should be able to communicate in case there is an issue to rectify.
Diane Nawatti, head teacher and counsellor at Mother Mary Complex School in Kigali points out that feedback is crucial with online learning because students get more excited if they ask questions and get a response, they also look forward to learning new perspectives.
“When feedback is given to students at the right time, it motivates them to be eager to continue learning and discovering new things as well,” she says.
Besides, she adds that giving feedback and participating in class discussions using clear and objective language can create an exceptional learning environment that benefits the whole class.Follow Lydia_AtienoM