Required features of a Virtual Classroom Tool for Use in Higher Education
ITB Journal Issue No. 20. Institute of Technology Blanchardstown, Dublin, Ireland.
The integration of virtual-classroom systems into the arsenal of e-learning tools represents a major evolution in the landscape of modern distance education. For many courses, standard virtual learning environments (VLEs) provide only a foundation upon which to base a distance learning programme. However, synchronous live online-teaching software such as Microsoft Office Communicator and Adobe Connect allow educators to simulate a real-time classroom environment over the internet like never before. Since these tools are being used more and more within higher education, questions must be asked about how effective they ultimately can be in meeting student learning requirements. More importantly, what are the best practices to employ when conducting classes online in this way? This paper examines what basic requirements a virtual classroom tool should meet for higher education purposes with much reference to a variety of commercial brands available. Obstacles and restrictions that arise based on these requirements will be discussed in order to identify and overcoming them.