‘Virtual classrooms’ are essentially online learning spaces. At Federation University, these virtual classes are found within the Moodle shell for each course. These are only accessible once you are logged in as a student.
Virtual classrooms can be identified by an icon which is generally named based on its purpose. For example, a classroom space where students can ‘meet’ virtually with lecturers and tutors in private conversations may be an icon called ‘Office hours’. Also, actual classes may be conducted in a virtual room designated ‘Course meetings’.
Once you have identified your virtual classroom, select the Join button to enter.
NB: When you click on the classroom icon, it will open on one of two platforms – Adobe Connect or Microsoft Teams. Both of them should give you the option to either join the room in a browser or download the App (application). Selecting to download and open the App is generally a quicker process, as you can change your settings to open the App automatically thereafter.
Before starting, ensure that your technology is ready for the online classroom experience.
To interact within a virtual classroom you will need some extra computer hardware:
- Microphone for recording and,
- Speakers for audio output, or
- Headset containing both microphone and earphones
Just as books, paper and pencils may be used in an on-campus tutorial, ensure that your system is working and you have all necessary materials with you before joining an online class.
Both Adobe Connect and Microsoft Teams platforms have in-built assistance to connect your microphone and speakers. Look for the icons that look like a speaker and a microphone in the navigation panel (at the top). Use the drop-down menu for each to select the relevant option for your system. If you see a ‘Setup Wizard’, use it – they are usually trouble-free!
You will only be able to speak to other students in the class when the HOST (lecturer or tutor) provides you with permission.
Video uses a lot of bandwidth and can slow down the performance of your system, but the problem goes further than that. In a class of 10 students, the person with the worst connection will be most affected by large data-using applications like video.
For this reason, use video sparingly and only when needed, such as for introductions. You can pause the video and resume it at any time. This will minimise bandwidth issues and also ensure your video does not distract other students from the primary content and on-screen activities.
Video is only available to students when the HOST (lecturer or tutor) activates your permission.
Also, consider what other people will see when you are on video. Have you set the camera to show your face, or just your ear? What is in the background? It is important to control the environment that you will show on a videocast.
Locate the webcam icon in the top navigation menu. Use the dropdown box to make your selection, and click Start Sharing in the video pod.
The HOST of a virtual class has control over who can present ideas to the group at a given time. This stops people from talking over each other and confusing the content. There are several ways to let the presenter know you’d like to make a comment.
One is by using the Status Icon, which is a human figure with an arm raised. The host can see a list of names of the people in the class. When you activate a status icon, it appears next to your name. The host will see it, and address you when they are ready. It is an unobtrusive way of communicating without interrupting the flow of the class or presentation.
Asking a question: The raise hand icon shows that you wish to ask a question. The presenter may use a chat function to have you write down your question or may activate your audio so you can explain your question to the group.
Agree/ Disagree: The presenter can make a statement and ask the group to identify whether they agree. This allows discussion to occur without having to wait for each person to respond to activated audio.
Step away: If you are forced away from the computer, select this icon. It ensures that you will not be expected to answer a question when you are not in the room. It also automatically disables your microphone so it cannot be activated while you are away from the computer.
The presentation: If you are having difficulties with the presentation you can ask the HOST to adjust things from their end. Speak louder/ softer and talk faster/ slower are instructions for the presenter. If you are having difficulty with audio, check your own volume setting first before asking the presenter to make adjustments.
When you have used a status it may remain on screen until you clear it using Clear Status.
If you are asked to share content with the class, a pop-up box will appear on your screen.
Select Start to activate sharing your screen – you will receive a second prompt to specify exactly what you would like to share, i.e. a particular file, window, or monitor.
It is important to ensure that nothing private is shown to the class. Be aware that some email and social media messages can pop up on your screen when friends post them. Ensure you disable these, as they are not appropriate in this context.
If you have multiple monitors, being able to select a particular monitor to share is convenient. You can move all of your work off the shared monitor space and then drag information back on as it is required for class.
Once you select and click Share, the virtual classroom interface will minimise and you can work on your chosen monitor/ window whilst the class watches.
When you have finished, click Stop Sharing and you will return to the normal screen.
Breakout Rooms are available in both Adobe Connects and Microsoft Teams platforms. These virtual rooms facilitate groupwork, where the host or lecturer can split the class into groups and assign each to a separate online workspace. The host is still in the main room but may drop in to see how you are going. Once inside a breakout room, you can send a message to the host to notify them of anything by clicking on ‘Send message to hosts’.
In a breakout room, you have the same level of control as the presenter had in the main room. Each group can use their microphones and webcams in that room, completely isolated from the other groups. Each breakout room workspace is unique to that room. For example, if there are four rooms each with a whiteboard, then there will be four different whiteboards. You may notice that the ‘PODS’ in the room all have ‘Breakout’ before their title.
When the breakout session is finished, you will return to the main room. The host will be able to bring any information you created back to the main room. This allows you to discuss the ideas raised in your group with the whole class.
Recordings can be accessed from Moodle via the link to your virtual learning spaces. They will be listed under either the Course Meetings or Office Hours headings. To access recordings click the Recordings link.
Under Recordings for that meeting you will see:
- The name given to the recording you made
- Recording date
- Duration in minutes
Click on the name of the recording to start playback.