5 Key Virtual Classroom Features for Faculty Experience
Poor internet connection, echoing mics and cats on keyboards aren't the only challenges when it comes to e-learning. Here are five key areas to future-proof your faculty experience, both on and off-campus, to increase student engagement.
Virtual learning has created unique opportunities to better support and tailor course content to the individual student. But between email, the university's administrative platform for course registration, the virtual classroom platform for posting coursework, keeping track of attendance and automatic drop dates, required faculty training, student questions and comments on course modules, video conference invites, chat software, and grading — it's insane in the mainframe for faculty and administrative staff to stay on top of it all.
As a teacher and mentor, creating impactful coursework that engages students while helping them make meaningful connections is a top priority. However, the burden of having too many siloed systems and the time it takes to manage them can degrade the overall student experience. And degrading the student experience can be a swift kick to an institution's knees.
The following are five key areas to address operational and classroom challenges that institutions can focus on when thinking about transforming the virtual classroom to enable increased faculty and student engagement. These accompanying screens are what we call “concept car creative” — they allow us to paint a better picture of potential solutions that could support an enhanced faculty experience.
1. The future of onboarding new teachers
Creating a guided onboarding experience for new and returning faculty with their course information pre-loaded, and introducing institution-approved tools available to faculty, could increase resource awareness and reduce the stress of pre-semester workloads on faculty members. Having the ability to re-load the previous semester's content further automates this process, giving more time for course content refinement and setting students up for success.
2. Administrative tools that keep faculty in compliance
Having an accessible space for faculty to manage HR training, professional development tools, class evaluations, financial documents and previous class records can increase awareness of institutional and federal requirements and encourage further digitization of employee records.
3. Intuitive course creation that taps into university resources
With all the diverse formats in which instruction can take shape, the importance of an accessible, flexible system that allows for various media and tools can help to facilitate teachers' ability to hone and personalize content for the individual student. As well as leveraging & integrating existing learning management and student information systems to build upon & evolve university data. This tailored approach can bring the on-campus classroom's personal feeling into virtual learning and help create more significant connections between students and their coursework.
4. A virtual classroom experience that fosters collaboration
Virtual instruction can open numerous opportunities, but the burden of keeping students connected and engaged falls on teachers, especially in discussion-based courses. An interface that handles live virtual lectures, discussion boards for students and virtual office hours allows for immediate classroom feedback and collaboration. It brings the on-campus seamlessness into the virtual classroom and further enhances the physical and digital connection while reducing technical frustrations and ensuring FERPA compliance.
5. A simple operational center that makes grading effortless and attendance automatic
Grading and attendance can be a time-consuming process outside of the classroom. A friendly interface that gives macro insights into student success makes it easy to alert institution resources to students in need and offers a customizable grading screen that fits how the individual faculty member assigns and reviews coursework. It also enables automated attendance for live virtual lectures, recognizing attendees and recording student attendance with an integrated virtual classroom interface.
Creating a seamless, flexible platform that can evolve with courses and the faculty can help keep higher education institutions competitive with third-party e-learning alternatives. Exploring these types of forward-thinking ideas will continue to drive transformation across the higher education industry.
For example, by 2026 the e-learning market share is expected to reach $374.3 billion. When evaluating your current e-learning experience and looking at out-of-the-box or bespoke solutions, you must involve your faculty members and staff, taking their daily pain points into account. The more time faculty have devoted to instructing and engaging students, the better the quality and value of coursework, which can only lead to an increase of prospective students while also retaining students in the future.