Virtual classroom tools were discussed at the 2013 Westminster Business School Learning and Teaching Day in this presentation given by Helen Pokorny, Course Leader for the MA Higher Education, and Andy Peisley, Senior Lecturer in Westminster Business School. They discussed their use of the Collaborate Virtual Classroom on the Pg Cert/MA Higher Education Assessment and Feedback module. The tool enabled Helen to run seminars, share presentations, documents, websites and discussions etc with students who cannot all attend at the same time for face-to-face sessions, and to record these. The cohort also used it for the summative assessment of a group presentation. Andy was a participant on the module and together they gave the pros and cons, quirks and considerations of working in this medium.
Virtual classroom tools are a way of providing real-time, synchronous contact or teaching time with participants spread over large, possibly international, geographical areas. Popular virtual classroom software allows multi-point video- and audio-conferencing, desktop sharing and real-time collaboration over the internet. Many people use it as a key part of blended learning delivery as it offers a way to provide face to face learning and teaching experiences to dispersed cohorts and as such can provide an excellent way of keeping in touch with students on work placements. It can also be a key component in changing the mode of blended learning delivery, allowing lecturers to stay in touch regularly with students they teach in burst mode.