Real-time teaching in a virtual environment can be very effective when interactive strategies are used. This kind of remote learning is available in a virtual classroom. It gives us as teachers the opportunity to use pedagogical approaches that encourage collaboration between the learners. We can enhance their active participation in the process and place the focus on constructivist methods and project-oriented learning. This can be done by using interactive teaching strategies.

Let`s see which interactive strategies can be applied to this kind of teaching. What tools can we use in a virtual classroom in order to achieve the learning outcomes?

  1. Brainstorming

The teacher gives a topic to the students and encourages them to present their point of view and to share their opinion on the topic. This strategy motivates the students to be creative and to share new ideas in an informal atmosphere.

Examples & tools available in a virtual environment: 

Notes on the whiteboard: Every student has access to the whiteboard in the virtual classroom where they can place online sticky notes containing their thoughts. The teacher administrates the process by giving the floor to certain students.

Chat: Everyone has access to the chat channel where they can share their opinions. The teacher is the moderator who groups and presents the ideas.

  1. Project-based learning

Project-based learning gives students the opportunity to learn actively, while being involved in projects that are meaningful and based on real life. They can learn to integrate different knowledge and skills into the process of creating a product.

Examples & tools available in a virtual environment:  

Breakout rooms: Designing a project is usually done as a team, so this teaching strategy promotes collaboration between students. The teacher gives them a task and encourages them to work in small groups. The virtual classroom can provide an online space for them in breakout rooms that have been created by the teacher for the purpose of the group work.

Fieldwork: The students have to create a map of any historic monuments related to significant places of the 20th century in their own city. They can draw upon all of the resources on the internet and then use the tools of the virtual classroom to upload pictures, videos, maps, etc. to present their findings to their classmates and teacher.

  1. Collaboration

Collaborative learning is a process in which a group of students are assigned to work together on a common task or topic. They are actively engaged in the process of learning.

Examples & tools available in a virtual environment:  

The virtual classroom allows students to work together on a common document. There is a text editor/text tool that can be used for this purpose. The task could be related to creating a mind map of processes like photosynthesis integrated in a Biology class for example, where all the students in the class can add a “step” to it.

  1. Role play

Role play is used as a teaching technique to help solve interpersonal classroom issues and to teach human-relation skills in the classroom. It could also be used to “facilitate subject-matter learning through dramatization of literary and historical works, historical or current events.” (Role-playing Methods in the Classroom, Ch., Mark & F. Robert, Center for Research on Utilization of Scientific Knowledge Institute for Social Research University of Michigan)

Examples & tools available in a virtual environment:  

Role-play “Guess Who I Am” – a student assumes the role of a historical person and tries to act them out. The rest of the class has to guess who that person is. The roles can be assigned in a private messaging tool by the teacher without anyone else seeing it. After that, the camera of the speaking student is turned on while the rest can add suggestions to the group chat, or use the raise-hand feature when they have an answer.

  1. Experiential learning

Experiential learning is another way of active learning. The students learn from an experience. This kind of learning process involves teaching techniques through which the teacher is able to encourage reflection on what has been learned.

Examples & tools available in a virtual environment:  

  • A virtual tour can be organized in a place related to a historical event, or in a museum. 
  • Sessions with a guest lector in a traditional classroom. Representative from a certain profession (medical doctors, firemen, taxi drivers, etc.) can explain to the students about their duties and responsibilities at work. The live video connection is available in the traditional classroom.  
  • Media player, music, and sounds can be integrated into the virtual classroom; images can be presented to help teachers create a positive and interactive learning atmosphere.
  • Joint learning sessions with students from around the world can be organized in a virtual classroom. Your students can meet other students who are studying the same subject in order to share experiences, learn social skills, or foreign languages.

These interactive teaching strategies can help students put their knowledge into action more easily, encourage their critical thinking, and engage them more effectively in the learning process. A virtual environment can not only provide tools for implementing these strategies, but can even help teachers make the process more interesting and colorful for the students. It can help the teachers create a safe and trusting learning environment where creative thinking, active and inclusive participation, and collaboration can be observed.