What Is a Virtual Classroom?

Sophia Bernazzani

Sophia Bernazzani | May 22, 2019

If you're interested in learning a new skill, expanding a skillset you already have, or pursuing an advanced degree, it can be challenging to make the time for class if you're a working professional. That's where online learning comes in. Nowadays, you can take one-off training courses or even complete entire degree programs, fully online, without leaving your house.

Live online learning programs involve virtual classrooms, which are enabled by a webcam or video conferencing camera, video conferencing software, and an instructor and students to work together. In this post, we'll dig into everything you need to know about virtual classrooms, whether you're a prospective student or virtual educator.

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Virtual Classroom Definition

A virtual classroom is an online teaching and learning environment where teachers and students can present course materials, engage and interact with one another, and work in groups together. The key distinction of a virtual classroom is that it takes place in a live, synchronous setting. Online coursework can involve the viewing of pre-recorded, asynchronous material, but virtual classroom settings involve live interaction between instructors and participants.


Virtual Classroom Examples

There are a few different types of programs that are delivered via virtual classrooms, the most common of which we'll explain below:


1. MOOCs

MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, are online courses that are available for anyone to enroll and participate in. MOOC providers offer different types of courses. Some are accredited and some are not, some are offered through universities and some are not, some are free and some require tuition, and some are offered with live virtual classroom work and some are not. Examples of MOOCs include courses offered through Coursera and edX.


2. Bootcamps

Bootcamps are another example of courses that can take place using virtual classrooms. Bootcamps for web development, graphic design, and data analytics (among many others) are offered in virtual or in-person settings and provide students with concentrated education and training in an industry they're trying to break into or advance in. Examples of bootcamp providers include Thinkful, General Assembly, and Galvanize.


3. Online Degree Programs

Online degree programs are offered by colleges and universities to deliver their degree programs in a virtual environment. Using online program management companies or their own internal resources, schools can recruit online students for their degree programs that are delivered into a webcam instead of a lecture hall. Many different schools offer online degree programs -- here's a comprehensive list of accredited programs.


Virtual Classroom Benefits


1. Virtual classrooms enable distance learning for students.

Virtual classrooms are undoubtedly much easier for students to learn new subjects and skills. Online learning makes it possible for working professionals, people with busy home lives, or people with fewer financial resources to learn new skills and grow their knowledge.


2. Virtual classrooms make it easier for instructors to share and monetize training.

Similarly, MOOCs, online learning platforms, bootcamps, and online degree programs make it possible for institutions and educators to share and monetize their training and teaching without having to travel to different locations to do so.


3. Virtual classrooms help established universities grow brand presence.

For colleges and universities that are trying to grow their brand presence and attract more students, offering online courses delivered through virtual classrooms can be a smart way to reach more students who aren't in their geographic area.

To learn more, read about how colleges and universities are leveraging technology to build online programs next.

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