Virtual Classrooms using Adobe Connect

I spent a little time recently looking at how Adobe Connect can be used to its full potential:

Virtual classrooms are online learning environments where delegates (all over the world) can gain access. They are able to see a set of slides, the facilitator (via webcam) and (virtually) interact with other delegates.  The benefit of this is that the delegates do not have to travel and the sessions can be created and delivered very quickly.

Although the learning is happening live, unlike eLearning where delegates can participate in their own time, this is not like a normal workshop environment.  The facilitator is not able to ‘see’ all of the delegates and therefore are not able to pick up on vital body language to check understanding and engagement levels.  The virtual classroom needs to overcome this.

Below are some key features that can be used to engage with its participants:

Visuals
PowerPoint Slides can be used to communicate information during the session using text and images. By making each slide concise and relevant to the learner it limits any distraction and engages the learner into listening to the speaker.

Whiteboards
As in real life, whiteboards can be used to capture ideas, illustrate concepts or used during ice breakers. Online whiteboards allow freehand drawing, text or shapes to be added. Delegates can be provided with a ‘virtual pen’ so they can add any suggestions for everyone to see/comment on.  They can also be used for annotating documents and images.

Screen Sharing
The facilitator is able to share their screen allowing all of the delegates to view exactly what they need to see.  This can be a great way to demonstrate a website or piece of software.

Chat
Depending on how many people are in the ‘room’ it may be easier to mute the delegates microphones and allow questions and communication via chat.  This works really well for large numbers of people who can type in answers or comments.

Poll / Quiz
Various types of questions can be added to either gather feedback during the session, test the group with a quiz or complete pre and post assessments.  The results from which can be broadcast back to the room or kept for reporting purposes.

Breakout rooms
Being able to divide the group into smaller groups can be very useful. Breakout rooms within the Virtual Classroom allow you to do this. The facilitator can organise everyone into groups who are then able to interact using their own whiteboard.  When the time is up, the facilitator can being everyone back together to present their findings.  The audio automatically splits allowing only the groups to hear each other.

Camera
A webcam is recommended at least for the speaker – but ideally all delegates would have this turned on.  This helps keep the attention on who is speaking at the time.

This is just some of the features that i’ve been looking at within Virtual Classrooms – using Adobe Connect.

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