How to use virtual classroom effectively to engage the students?


Live online classes are changing the way we teach and learn. In addition to altering the landscape of education, online classes are also offering a low-cost alternative to having a physical classroom setup. Educators are collaborating with students from around the world turning the field of online education into a dynamic learning ecosystem.

But, as the trend matures, so do the issues. Now that we have the technology in place, we should work towards using it to the maximum and improving the delivery by trying innovative measures.

Collaboration is a bone of contention when traditional and online methods of learning are compared. Online collaborative learning software has brought face-to-face teaching to the fore and enabled online instructors to focus on newer learner objectives. Although research says that blended learning outperforms traditional teaching, still skeptics doubt the ability to collaborate over the internet over that in a physical environment.

The challenge here is to make the online classes as collaborative and fruitful as their offline counterparts, and that’s why we have come up with five critical ways to improve the engagement in your live classes:

1. Set the right tone before the live session commences

Learners are bound to have expectations and questions about the live session. To have them come prepared, you may try these steps before the session starts:

  • Share the agenda of the session and the results that you expect after the session
  • Share relevant study material before the session so that your learners come prepared
  • Send a reminder communication to remind your learners about the session
  • Do a dry-run of the session before the actual one to make sure everything is in its right place and working well.

“A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning”

2. Have a stellar start

The first five minutes of your session will set the tone for the rest of it. You wouldn’t want your learners losing out on the narrative.

To do this,

  • Make sure the devices are working well by doing a sound and video check. Ask your learners if they are facing any issues in accessing the feed.
  • To make the learners feel at home, you may use introductions as an ice-breaker. Make a format (Name/City or Name/Profession) and ask your learners to chip in.
  • Everyone loves a good story! Start your session with a story or an anecdote and arrive at the objective of the session at the end of it.
  • You may also do a quick reconnaissance by asking a question via online polls. Gauge their expectations and level of expertise regarding the subject you are teaching and build your way up.

3. Make your live session worth their while

Once the tone is set and the learners are pepped-up, you own the stage. To make sure that your learners are engaged right until the end of the session, you can try these tips:

  • Include multimedia in your content as the importance of visual media needs no reiteration. These content pieces may range from an interactive presentation, or a viral video, to a famous speech or a picture quiz.
  • Use pauses effectively. Give your learners time to absorb the content. Break down your narrative into small sections and pause between the sections to let the learning sink in.
  • Interaction is the key. Use more polls to gauge opinion about a topic from your learners during the session. In addition to making your session interactive, polls give your learners a break to focus on their thoughts.
  • Use the live chat to give links and references and highlight important sections of your session.

4. Don’t let the learning stop with the session

The final part of your session is crucial as it is the end that decides what the learners are going to take back as a conclusion. Make it about them – after the session is over, allow 10-20 minutes for interaction.

During this, you may,

  • Give an assignment to the learners as homework.
  • Make a point of collecting feedback individually. You may do this during the session, or, if the time is short, you may include a feedback form at the end of the session.
  • Suggest a list of reading material related to the topic to your learners.
  • Discuss the agenda for the next session and share preparatory material to leverage the momentum.
  • Consider incentivizing learning by giving rewards points for assessments.

“Education is not the learning of facts but the training of the mind of thought”

5. Stick to the best practices

Adherence to best practices makes sure you are following the benchmarks of excellence. For your online classes, here are some practices you may follow to be on the safer side:

  • Create a lean and clean presentation with consistent design elements for your live session. Make sure the slides are not cluttered with too much content, and there is a key takeaway at the end of every section.
  • Maintain a safe distance from the mic so that your audio remains clean. Turn off any devices that are likely to add to the background noise and don’t forget to close the windows.
  • Keep the webcam at eye level so that you are face-to-face with the learners. If the camera is below the eye level, it may look like you looking down on your learners.
  • Make sure that your online class software is mobile-friendly to reach out to the maximum number of learners.
  • Build a story and stick to it till the end. Don’t leave “plotholes” in your narrative. Break down longer ideas into smaller ones and keep a healthy mix of content, multimedia, pauses, and questions.
  • Be ethical and thoroughly check the copyright permissions for the content you are using before you go live.

The success of your live sessions depends on how sincerely you strive to deliver them in the best manner possible. In a nutshell, building a good story and dedicatedly focusing on the little details while telling that story help you conduct the perfect live session.