The Main Challenges of Virtual Classrooms and Key Solutions to Overcome Them

The Main Challenges of Virtual Classrooms and Key Solutions to Overcome Them

30 Sep 2022

T3 Aviation Academy

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This informal CPD article The Fundamental Differences Between Training and Facilitation was provided by Capt. Nadhem AlHamad, CEO at T3 Aviation Academy, the Middle East’s leading aviation training provider.

During the pandemic, academic and training institutions had to transition from traditional in-person learning to virtual or e-learning. This transition has brought about its own set of challenges and restrictions that needed to be addressed and overcome as it’s impertinent to adapt to change for the safety and security of both learners and lecturers.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, our Academy was already expanding in 2019 and though we didn’t account – even in the slightest – for the pandemic to hit, we were lucky enough to follow a proactive approach in equipping our new offices and classrooms with the latest virtual learning and meeting capabilities in line with our aim to have efficient processes in place.

At the time, even the regulatory bodies or authorities weren’t keen on e-learning or e-training however, we still opted for smart boards and other virtual technologies to help us deliver the highest standards of training for our cadets even while they were attending in-class. Four months into having a newly digitalised learning environment that is capable of supporting online learning, the pandemic hit and we were able to transition from in-person training to virtual training within 48 hours, further to getting approved by the concerned regulatory body. This made us the leading aviation training organisation in the region to respond swiftly to such a need for transition with approval from the authorities.

Virtual Classrooms Challenges:

In the process of being focused on efficiency and development in line with our future expansion, we’ve found ourselves to be proactive in dealing with external factors or events we didn’t take into consideration but were fortunate enough to have easily overcome and resolved through this approach when the pandemic hit.

When it comes to deploying such a transition and utilising virtual classrooms however, there are a number of challenges that an organisation can face that has the potential of impacting the overall quality of learning. I will share with you the fundamental challenges and how they can be navigated and overcome:

1. Connectivity Issues

Virtual classrooms offer an appealing opportunity for lecturers to reach learners from the comfort of their homes however, connectivity or internet issues can prove to be a persistent challenge for both parties depending on geographical location, accessibility to the Internet, and Internet speed, among other factors. In rural areas for example, internet speed can be slow which can cause lecturers and learners to experience lags or disconnections. 

In cities, on the other hand, lecturers and learners can experience unreliable connections which can impact present in such areas. As the Internet is a core requirement of virtual classrooms, low bandwidth connections can be a serious impediment in deploying virtual learning.

A solution for this could be ensuring that both learners and lecturers have access to a solid Internet connection at their locations and this must be tested at least two days prior to the commencement of classes. If it’s proven that the connection is poor, the learning institution can opt for improving the Internet package it’s subscribed to that’s completely dedicated for virtual learning and/or provide access for both learners and lecturers to use a co-working space with a speedy Internet connection. I’ve also seen organisations going for a learning management software that is optimised for virtual learning and caters to users who don’t have the best Internet connectivity.

2. Lack of Clear Policies, Standards, and Regulations for Virtual Learning

There aren’t many organisations who offer virtual learning before the pandemic and right after it hit, there’s a sudden need to adapt and offer the same for business continuity. Most, if not all, regulators around the world didn’t have pre-defined policies, standards, and regulations in place to govern the quality of virtual learning which has left a lot of institutions with no other choice but to “wing” it, so to speak.

To overcome this challenge at T3, we developed an in-house Virtual Etiquette Training for both our instructors and cadets to brief them on the basic principles of being in a virtual learning environment and what are the main do’s and don’ts to abide by. As an example, we’ve set and maintained standards when it comes to video connectivity (must be on during classes) to ensure that the visual expressions are captured, and eye contact remains with the instructors.

3. Inconducive Learning Environment and Distractions

Since the setting is not a professional/academic class or learning room, learners and lecturers alike can find the environment they’re in, which is usually a room or an open space in their respective homes, to be inconducive to productive learning. This is usually caused by others being present in the vicinity, lack of space to place their devices and study materials, and lack of silence overall which can cause distractions.

There’s no straight-cut solution for this however, the institution can provide the required devices or accessories such as noise-cancelling earphones or headphones so that one can focus and concentrate on the lecture or lesson. As for other distractions, the lecturer can provide a briefing prior to the lectures or classes on how learners can avoid and eliminate common distractions they can typically face at home.

Challenges of a virtual learning environment

4. Follow-Through

In such virtual settings, learners can feel restricted when it comes to fully comprehending learning outcomes as they can feel limited when it comes to asking questions and receiving proper and complete answers and follow-through on their persisting queries or doubts. Without a direct physical access to the lecturer, this challenge is usually mentally self-imposed in most cases and is usually regarded as a barrier or limitation.

The institution and lecturers must ensure that learners are sufficiently briefed on the learning/training agenda and that they understand there’s a specific block of time allotted for Q&A’s. Additionally, the learners need to be advised that they can communicate with the lecturer directly with any follow-up questions or queries. Lecturers also need to ensure that they have a monitoring system in place that will allow them to follow-up with the learners to verify they have fully understood the learning or training outcomes.

We hope this article was helpful. For more information from T3 Aviation Academy, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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T3 Aviation Academy

T3 Aviation Academy

For more information from T3 Aviation Academy, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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