The school closures following COVID-19 pandemic have confined both students and teachers to home. With the changes that happened in the education industry, just like students struggling to bring the school environment home, teachers also struggle to create an effective virtual classroom at home. You might be teaching from your living room, but making a few adjustments can make the experience more comfortable and sustainable. That’s why we have some practical ideas if you are looking for how to set up a virtual classroom.
Create a visually appealing space
The most important aspect to consider when you are setting up a virtual classroom is to create a space that is attractive to students. But not just visually appealing, it must also help both teachers and students increase their productivity. To create a welcoming virtual space, start your online class by greeting your students. It helps to add a personal touch that makes learners feel great about coming to your class.
Consider the backdrop
Even if you are working from a corner of your home space, it doesn’t matter; just make the space behind you inviting for students. Use a backdrop like wallpaper or a whiteboard, or just put up learning resources in poster forms. If you are planning to deliver pre-recorded classes, you can use a temporary green screen by using a green towel or a roll of green paper.
Use multiple screens
If you are an online teacher who regularly takes live classes, you know how important it is to have multiple screens in your workspace. Having more than one computer screen helps you designate each screen for different activities. For example, you can use one laptop as the main one to see and chat with students, whereas the second one serves as a screen-sharing device for group work, etc.
Plan your availability and make it clear
When you are planning to take online classes from home, minimizing interruptions can be challenging. Hence, it is essential to communicate your availability with your students. Be clear about your timings, communicate it before the class to the students, and always keep the timing right.
Another point to consider is maintaining your flexibility, especially in this pandemic times. It is one of the most significant qualities every teacher must have. While virtual classes are advantages, it opens up a lot of uncertainties and challenges. Differences in time zones when teaching students from different parts of the world, unstable internet connections, etc can create difficulties. Staying flexible and making necessary changes in the already made plan can help you tackle the situation professionally.
Plan how to deliver your lessons
One of the simplest ways to deliver your classes is by creating slideshows with live commentary without any videos. This can be done easily and doesn’t require much technical expertise. However, audio-only classes are the less engaging type of classes.
Another way is to offer pre-recorded video lectures that learners can access on demand. Suppose you want to make your classes more interesting. In that case, you can leverage live streaming to replace the traditional classroom setup by running instant discussions boards and chats for teachers to interact with students in real-time.
Create the right setup
As you come up with ways to deliver your lessons, you must create the right set up to support your delivery. While it is quite easy to start with a high-quality webcam and a microphone, you might need more equipment if you are planning to have a more professional setup. Try using multiple cameras and use switching features like a split-screen to make it more detailed. It’s hard to capture your students’ attention with low-quality video lectures, no matter how good the content is. The right setup and configurations can support your rich content.
Suppose you are planning to extend your small online teaching setup or already running your tutoring business. In that case, the most recommended approach is to set up your own online tutoring platform to connect with your students and teach online. However, you don’t need to spend a fortune to create an online website; there are many tutoring software available in the market.
For example, Pinlearn is an online tutoring software that helps teachers build their own online learning website that supports blended and online learning by providing one-one live classes, group webinar classes, online courses, etc.
Adjusting lesson plans
You might have already prepared lesson plans with you, but it might require more tweaking when you are taking it online. An online tutoring software can help ease the transition from offline to online. For example, if you are accustomed to using a whiteboard in your class, you can still follow the same pattern in virtual classes. Virtual classrooms allow you to use online whiteboards or make sure you include your whiteboard visible in your camera view. Besides whiteboards, you can use slideshows, screen sharing options, etc., to deliver your lessons. As your classes are built around lectures, projects, tests, assignments, quizzes, and exams, you might need them all in the virtual environment as well. Group discussion boards can help you facilitate student interactions and group projects.
Just like in a traditional classroom, you must also create a proper structure for your virtual classroom. Communicate the daily or weekly schedule to your students and define the goals clearly. Large topics can be broken into small modules with tools for discussions, quizzes, and tests to help with the much-needed structuring.
The pandemic times have put both students and teachers in a state of emergency. Transitioning from face-face instruction to online teaching overnight is not an easy task. But, having a plan to set up your online classroom can help you get going with online teaching. Crafting an organized and relaxed classroom is an integral aspect for both students’ and educators’ success. What works for one educator may not work for another, but following the tips we discussed here, can you help set up your virtual classroom and create an engaging learning experience.