A virtual classroom is an online environment where staff and students can come together and share audio, video, documents and applications. One of the major benefits is that the session can be recorded and then made available to participants for example through the VLE. It is not only for staff and students but can be used where you have a requirement to interact with geographically dispersed participants eg in a research project or other collaborative initiative.
For the last 6 months we have been trialling software from Blackboard called Collaborate. This software is currently used by academic and support staff across the university with over 50 people registered. The overwhelming view is that the virtual classroom is a powerful tool that can be very helpful in bringing people together to work collaboratively.
With the decision to move away from Blackboard to a new VLE, Brightspace, from Desire2Learn, we have a finite time in which to use Collaborate but we can continue to use it for the remainder of this calendar year. At some point, we will look to implement the Brightspace version of the virtual classroom but that is some time away. In the interim, Collaborate offers you the opportunity to investigate how a virtual working space can help you in your work.
If you would like to try out Collaborate and test a virtual learning/meeting environment, please contact David Biggins for more details.