How to create a virtual learning environment for an English class
Being able to teach in a virtual learning environment can help us hugely during our classes. Here you find out how and where to start!
Due to the advancement in technology, the traditional classroom in an offline learning environment is being replaced by online learning.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the traditional method of offline learning has been completely replaced by online learning, therefore, it has become very important for teachers to find ways to make online learning as effective as offline learning, or even more.
To do so, one should know how to create a virtual learning environment. In this article, we are going to discuss everything you need to know about what is a virtual learning environment, how you can create it, different software you can use, etc., so let’s get started.
We are particularly going to talk about how one can implement the VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) in English but can also use it for teaching any subject as well.
What is Virtual Learning?
Virtual learning is a combination of computer software and the internet to deliver instruction to students.
This minimizes or eliminates the need for teachers and students to share a classroom.
Virtual learning does not include the increase of e-mail or online forums to help teachers better communicate with students and parents about the course and students’ progress throughout the course.
What does a virtual learning environment actually mean?
A Virtual Learning environment is a web-based platform that allows the students and the teachers to interact virtually and enhance the complete learning experience.
It replicates the whole experience of traditional offline learning. One can easily create VLE using different software available. Now let’s get into the advantage of using VLE software.
Advantage of Virtual Learning Environment
VLE allows the teachers to monitor the student activities during an online lecture.
It enables the teachers to organize different interactive activities like quizzes, taking a poll from students on a particular topic. It allows recording the sessions or lecture so that the students can refer to them whenever they want. One can break the class into small rooms for group discussions. It enables the teachers and students to share whiteboards, documents, URLs, etc. It also helps in the assessment of the students.
Different components of Virtual Learning Environment
The Virtual Learning Environment consists of various components. Below are some of the main components required for creating the best Virtual Learning Environment.
Curriculum mapping and planning:
Planning the whole curriculum of the course is the most important component of a Virtual learning environment.
It includes planning lessons, the way you are going to assess your student throughout the course.
Content management covers things like creating the content, storing it, and making it accessible to the students.
Create educational and engaging content is the most important part for the teacher, and one should spend most of the time in content creation.
Being an English teacher, you should try to add multimedia like videos, images, etc., which will help your student to understand the concepts clearly.
You can also create some animated videos, and these are some of the best content in terms of engagement.
After creating very good content, you have to make it accessible for your students.
You can send a copy of your content to your student individually, but the best way to do that is to upload your content on the cloud storage so that any of you students can access it anytime from anywhere.
This component is only applicable to you when you are teaching through live sessions.
Real-time communication becomes more important when it comes to teaching English because one can learn English only by communicating with others.
Real-time communication can be done by video conferencing or audio conferencing. It is also very useful for clearing the doubts of the students.
After knowing the component, it’s time to know about some tools which can help us to create a good Virtual Learning Environment.
Tools for creating Virtual Learning Environment
The different tools have to be used for different components of VLE. I had divided the tools into the following category
Content creating/Management tools:
Selecting the content-creating tool depends upon the type of content you want to create. If you want to create the notes for your students in the form of a PDF or any kind of text documents, you can use any word processing software like MS-word, Google Docs, etc.
For teaching or explaining the concept to your students, you need more engaging content like a presentation, video, or any interactive game related to that particular topic.
For creating a good and attractive presentation, you can use MS-Powerpoint, Canva, and Google Slides. For video, you can use Youtube if you are teaching through live sessions.
If you are teaching through self-paced learning programs, then you have to create your content, you can use any video editing software available for creating video content. After creating your content, you have to figure out a way to make that content accessible for the students from anywhere at any time.
You can do it by uploading your content on cloud storage. You can use Google Drive to store your data.
Real-time communication tools
Real-time communication tools are the tools that allow you to conduct video conferences. There are several video conferencing software/websites out there which offer different features.
You, as a teacher, have to decide which software/website fits your requirements.
Below are my favourite video conferencing software/websites
Student assessments tools
Student assessment tools provide you to access the students throughout the course. It also records the performance of every student in a systematic manner. Again, there is a number of software/websites available.
Selecting the assessment tools depends on the way you are going to assess your students. Some websites provide assessments based on live quizzes, while some assess based on the assignment submitted by the students.
You can also assess manually by recording the student performance in spreadsheets, but this is a time-consuming method.
Below are my favorite Student Assessment Software/Websites
Organizing Online Events for the Students
In traditional offline learning, students use to participate in multiple offline events, which help them to improve their personality, public speaking, and presentation skills. Being an English teacher, you know the importance of those skills in your student’s life. Events are a very important part of the offline learning environment.
Due to the pandemic of COVID-19, it becomes very difficult to organize any offline events. So you can conduct some online replica of the events for your student for their overall development of your students.
Organizing Online events is not the main part of the Virtual Learning Environment, but by doing this, you can improve the quality of your VLE.
How to keep the students attentive in the online sessions/lecture
The teachers need to keep their students engaged in the online lecture because whatever time you have put in to make good content will be of no use if your students are not attentive during the lectures.
You can deal with this problem by asking the question about the concept you are teaching, or you can organize a quiz based on the complete lecture at the end of the lecture and assess your student based on the quiz.
By doing this, your student will be attentive throughout the lecture.
The importance of collaboration in creating the VLE
Collaboration is very important when it comes to teaching. You have to collaborate with your colleagues as well as with your students. You have to communicate the schedule of lectures with your students and also have to discuss it with your colleagues so that your lectures didn’t overlap with each other.
Collaboration also places importance in assessing the students because the teachers of the different subjects have to keep a record of the student in their respective subjects.
You can use any of the collaboration software like Microsoft teams, google classroom, etc., for creating a good collaboration.
Use of simulation/virtual reality for effective online learning
Virtual reality (VR) has the potential to take learning beyond the traditional online learning experience. It has benefits like enhanced engagement, improved retention, etc. Now the question arises of how you can use virtual reality for teaching English?
To understand this, we take an example, let’s say you’re teaching American English. Your students need to practice the American accent. Instead of spending lots of time and energy finding Americans to speak with or locating specific videos, blogs, or audiobooks, you and your students can easily go to America without any plane and tickets. Virtual reality makes this possible; your students will be able to virtually visit the U.S.
Creating good virtual learning environments is very important for teachers as well as for students because online learning is the future, as students can gain knowledge from anywhere and from anyone he/she wants. Online learning gets a boost because it is very affordable and convenient for students. Teachers should know how to create the best virtual learning environment for a better understanding of the students.
I hope you got all the information related to creating a virtual learning environment as an English teacher.