Virtual classrooms have been around for a long time, but since Corona, they have become even more popular. Providers of further education like TÜV Rheinland Academy digitalized their regular seminar offer within a short time and modified the training methods and didactics. The aim is to use digital technology effectively for all learning types with virtual classrooms (VC).
Training in seminar rooms is only possible with a hygiene concept until a vaccine is discovered. The “physical distancing” is valid indefinitely. However, further occupational training must not be allowed to fall by the wayside. For companies and their employees, there are excellent opportunities, especially now. As long as many companies are still in short-time work, the time can be used to extend the Corona-related learning curves. In times of low workload, investments in the qualification of employees are worthwhile.
Because by building up competence, employers and employees strengthen their competitiveness for the future of work. Furthermore, anyone taking part in further training in a virtual classroom from their home office or via mobile device today enjoys a lively learning world with interaction and fun, including simultaneous monitoring of learning success.
From e-Learning to virtual classrooms
Concepts and technical solutions for lively, interactive formats of corporate knowledge transfer have been around since the 90s. Synchronous learning media have been part of professional training from the very beginning. Those who spoke of e-learning usually had web-based training in mind. Limiting factors were often the technical infrastructure or the lack of bandwidth. Interaction between participants and trainers took place via chats or telephone conferences.
To support the participants even better in designing their learning environment and learning progress, educational institutions and universities developed virtual classrooms, which take place synchronously and live in class. All trainers, moderators, and participants are connected live via webcam and headsets. This opens up educational and methodological possibilities that are almost equal to those of real seminars.
In addition to the traditional whiteboard lecture by a trainer, participants can exchange views in open discussions followed by an online participant survey. This happens in a video conference, which also gets a new liveliness through chats.
Participants can also make their contributions, give speeches, and record presentations or videos from their computers. In addition to this, working groups can be formed; asynchronous newsgroups complement the exchange within the framework of digital learning, which has the great advantage of being able to combine an entire toolset for synchronous and asynchronous learning processes (Blended Learning).
Virtual classrooms: Immediate feedback for trainers and participants
Because people’s learning behavior is different, some have a short attention span and are easily distracted, which was a particular challenge in the home office during the Corona pandemic and still is in some instances. Some need fixed structures; others prefer to divide up the learning material themselves. In all situations, some form of social interaction is desirable to revive the joy of learning and learning progress. The recurring challenge for education providers and competence partners is to meet all these needs within the framework of digital learning – especially in times of Corona.
Good trainers use the knowledge of the learning types in their courses to adapt their educational modules to these optimally. Impulse presentations of thirty or more minutes, which were common in the past, are divided up into several smaller ones. These can be varied with videos, group work, and flash surveys to involve the participants in the further course of the seminar unit. All in all, the lessons are more interactive, multimedia-based, and sometimes also with playful elements.
Trainers use short one-on-one conversations to check individual learning statuses. In this way, they receive immediate feedback, for example, to close gaps in knowledge early on by repeating the lessons. And even performance assessments can now be carried out in a legally compliant manner using appropriate tools with clear identification.
Digital and conventional training will complement each other even more closely in the future
Even if the practical skills still have to be trained in the future, as in the case of welder training, the necessary theoretical knowledge can certainly be taught in a virtual classroom – possibly supplemented by innovative digital approaches, such as a virtual reality scenario. This allows smaller groups to use available practical training places alternately. In any case, the trainers from TÜV Rheinland Academy have shown during the Corona shutdown that they can also convey previously conventional offerings successfully from their seminar portfolio in virtual classrooms.
Above all, feedback from participants also shows that they experienced a lively learning world with interaction and fun. One participant put it in a nutshell: “For two days, I took part in an online seminar at TÜV Rheinland. The tutor was professional, serious, and responsible. Instead of seemingly boring terms and lessons, I experienced enthusiastic explanations that stay in my mind. To every question, the trainer responded in time and with a smile and gave professional answers. And she also asked questions so that we could interact well. The three-day virtual classroom has awakened my enthusiasm to continue learning online. ”