Make the best use of virtual classes

Don’t miss out on learning, make the best use of virtual classes

For the virtual session to be most effective, students need to interact and thoughtfully contribute to the discussions.

While students all over the world have been asked to follow social distancing, universities in a bid to cover the syllabus, and not throw their exam schedules into total disarray, are urging their faculty to use the virtual medium to connect with students. From a student’s perspective, their classroom schedule has moved to the confines of their residences. 

The process of learning that takes place between the teacher and the student in a classroom setting is determined by several factors. Discipline, decorum and diversity are the key factors that enhance classroom learning. In the virtual classroom scenario, it is these 3 Ds that can be compromised. 

Here are some simple techniques for students to ensure their process of learning is not hampered by the virtual
medium:

Understand communication channel: While taking live online classes, the teacher, is having a one-way conversation, and is aware that the student has logged in and is keen to actively participate. 

When communication is two-way in the classroom, students automatically maintain discipline by not interrupting the teacher, sit attentively, listen and make notes, keep the classroom decorum intact and listen to what other students (representing diverse views) have to say while contributing to the classroom discussions. 

Hence, being aware of this change in the medium of communication will help students to orient their ways and methods to understand what is being taught. This will ensure that learning is uninterrupted.

This can be done by observing the following: A virtual session may be announced along with a series of instructions. The instructions will range from Dos and Don’ts — for example, Q&A can be taken in between or at the end of the session.

Several links to additional readings or videos may be pre-requisites before joining the session. The instructor may choose to make the session as a linked one, connecting concepts from previous sessions — in which case, students must be up-to-date. The instructor may give a surprise assignment during the session to test for preparedness.

Interact and engage: Since the medium of communication is virtual, students may have difficulty comprehending the channel. However, the virtual medium has a few advantages for those students who are hesitant and shy to interact in a class filled with fast learners. 

Hence, these virtual sessions offer a gateway to slow learners to catch up with their peers. The online sessions afford students who are sceptical about airing their views, to do so uninhibitedly. This can help them clear doubts, build confidence and actively engage themselves in the learning process. The interaction can take place through a typed message or audio input. 

For this to be most effective, a student needs to be aware of the modalities of the session. If the instructor has specified that students can start typing their queries as the session is in progress, then the student can comfortably post their queries. If the instructor throws the session open to voice or video messages, after the lecture has ended, the student can pose questions in that window.

For the virtual session to be most effective, students need to interact and thoughtfully contribute to the discussions. Students ought to maintain discipline, decorum by giving other students equal opportunity to participate and not interrupting or intruding when others are speaking. Other students may have relevant questions or interesting observations to make, so tune in to what they are saying and accept the diversity through these sessions.

Lastly, dress up neatly, be seated comfortably at a desk with minimal sound disruptions, check your internet connectivity, do not let your family members come into the frame and show up for these virtual sessions to maintain a formal setting.  

(The writer is a communication and media researcher)

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