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A virtual classroom is a teaching and learning environment where participants can interact, communicate, view and discuss presentations, and engage with learning resources while working in groups, all in an online setting. The medium is often through a video conferencing application that allows multiple users to be connected at the same time through the Internet, which allows users from virtually anywhere to participate.
A virtual classroom is also known as a virtual learning environment (VLE).
There is no concrete definition of what a virtual classroom is, but the most logical one is simply that it is an online classroom environment facilitated via specialized video conferencing applications. The participants, of course, include one or multiple instructors and students. However, a classroom or class does not always need an active instructor to supervise students; in this setting, they can proceed at their own pace, with the instructor only around to evaluate the students; sometimes there is no instructor at all. This type of virtual classroom is called an unsupervised virtual classroom, which is characterized by ready-made learning materials that students can follow without the aid of an instructor, essentially a self-paced tutorial course where the exams can be automated after every activity. This is the most common form of virtual classroom, where students just read a PowerPoint presentation or watch a video tutorial. This makes YouTube, by association, the most widely used virtual classroom thus far (even if it is not considered as one).
The second type of virtual classroom is the supervised or instructor-led classroom. This conforms more to a traditional classroom definition. There is at least one active instructor present and the lesson is carried out in real time at a specific time and date, with the students being in attendance virtually through a video conferencing application. Here, students and teachers can truly interact and actively participate in class.
A virtual classroom has the following advantages:
It has the following disadvantages, however: