Teaching Tuesday: How to Teach Within Virtual Classrooms

By Tracy Vasquez, Emily Farkas, and Dusty Sanchez, faculty

teacher utilizing technology for virtual instruction

As you are looking at a future in education, there are many different settings to consider. One option gaining momentum is teaching in virtual classrooms. In-person and virtual instruction share many characteristics but  have some clear differences that require careful consideration.

Professionalism in Virtual Instruction

Virtual instruction comes with slightly different expectations regarding professionalism. As a virtual teacher, there is an added responsibility of digital citizenship and literacy in which to demonstrate your professionalism.

For example, while teaching in a virtual setting you will be able to support your students with student-led instructional strategies utilizing technology, performing tasks such as researching and analyzing appropriate resources to support their opinions on a given issue. Both in-person and virtual teaching require professional dress, respectful, appropriate verbal and non-verbal communication. However, video backgrounds and instructional preparedness must also be considered in virtual instruction.

Student Engagement in Virtual Classrooms

Although both in-person and virtual learning environments may have similar engagement expectations, the classroom management approach will likely differ greatly. Virtual instruction requires thoughtful planning based on student participation and behavior expectations. Students will not be physically together, so you will not be able to use proximity to ensure expectations are followed.

Instead, you will need to apply technology tools as a proxy for this “closeness.” By teaching virtually you are also able to embed consistent technology applications, for your students. This will help you engage students by applying student interests and speak to their curiosities surrounding and utilizing technology.

In virtual platforms there are many tools for monitoring student progress toward learning goals. By applying the same assessment best practice you would in a traditional setting, you can watch students work on practice problems and provide immediate feedback and guidance.

Utilizing Technology in Communication

There are many applications that can increase communication and collaboration. These can be used with students during classroom instruction and with families to strengthen the home-to-school connection. For example, integrating the use of digital portfolios would allow you to see a student progressing in a content area. It also provides transparency and enables families to watch the student's progress.

Another strategy is to implement interactive slideshows. Students can create these either individually or in a virtual teams as they work toward a given objective. In addition, screen casting or voice recording are other technologies to utilize in class communications. These tools help support students in understanding assignments but can also add as a platform to provide feedback to students to extend and further student growth.

As you can see, virtual learning environments can also be engaging and positive for both students and teachers. In either setting you are provided with many opportunities to demonstrate your professionalism as an educator through student engagement and communication practices.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.