Learning has taken on an altogether new meaning and approach with virtual classrooms or, as I often call it, distance education in real-time avatar. Skype, Youtube, Schooltube and a plethora of other learning tools today is helping classrooms move towards creating a global education community.
Consider this- a school in the United States that is learning about say, Mahatma Gandhi, logs onto Skype in the Classroom and connects to a class in Mumbai that is studying about the freedom struggle. Not only are they exposed to information that is perhaps more authentic, both the students and the teacher can pose their questions to their learning partners here in India and receive immediate response.
You can also connect through sites such as Classle.net to share and engage students in group activities just as on Facebook or Twitter, providing a safe virtual environment for children to learn.
Virtual classrooms such as this can help create a web of educational interconnectedness that can only make the students smarter.
Because students participating in a virtual classroom not only increase observational power and acute understanding of things, they are motivated to actively seek out information online then hunting through a big fat encyclopedia. It makes learning fun. Period.
A virtual classroom doesn’t take away from the effectiveness of the physical classroom. If anything, it only makes it more fun and adds to the lecture. Play a pre-recorded video of the day’s session. Pause the video if a student has a question and get back to session without losing enthusiasm or your train of thought. You can then use the rest of the class time for activity, worksheets or exercises relating to the subject.
That schools here in India upgrade their systems to include virtual education. We don’t have the concept of a field trip in this country. It’s too much money spent and too much responsibility for the teacher. Which is why virtual field trips can do really well here. Imagine the entire fifth grade of a school in Pune visiting the Niagara Falls without budging from their seats. It certainly would make subjects like Geography a little more engaging, don’t you think?