Five Monsters That May Visit Your Virtual Classroom

It’s Halloween and a spookier day than normal with monsters out and about. Are there monsters lurking in your virtual classroom?  If so, here are a few ideas on how to handle them:

Wireless Goblin: This monster likes to appear right as you are about to start your virtual classroom session, especially if the instructor’s computer is on a wireless network.  The Wireless Goblin disrupts the wireless network, causing loss of access to the virtual classroom.  To handle this monster, ensure that the instructor’s computer is on a wired Internet connection.  Have a back up internet connection in place as well such as a portable wireless hotspot.

Chained Mummy: The Chained Mummy visits those who are scheduled to participate in your virtual classroom and chains them to their email or other tasks, causing them to show up late to your course.  The Chained Mummy is relentless and even if the enrollee manages to break free of the chains to email, he will quickly chain the enrollee to another task, causing him/her to arrive even later in the virtual classroom.  To combat this monster, prepare a brief email message and send to enrollees the morning of your session and one hour before your session to remind them of the start time and classroom URL.  Log on to the session early and 10-15 minutes before the session starts, begin sending instant messages with the start time and classroom URL to those who have not yet joined the virtual classroom.

Silent Ghost: The Silent Ghost terrorizes virtual facilitators and appears when you ask participants a question and expect them to respond verbally or via chat.  The dead silence that occurs while you wait for a response from participants can be agonizing.  The Silent Ghost loves impatience and will never leave your classroom if you rush to fill the silence after you ask a question.  To overcome the Silent Ghost use three techniques: (1) asked pointed questions, (2) tell participants how to respond, either through audio, chat or both, and (3) pause and count to 10 to allow time for participants to un-mute, gather their thoughts to type a response.

Noisy Ogre: The Noisy Ogre causes the opposite problem of the Silent Ghost.  The Ogre causes background noise to flare up as the facilitator speaks, making it difficult for participants to hear.  Example include not muting the phone, banging on the desk, or breathing into the phone. The Noisy Ogre can be quickly defeated by instructing participants on how to mute their phone or microphone.  Also, some virtual classroom tools and conference call lines allow the instructor or a third party to mute all lines when the Ogre comes around.

Exercise Zombie: The Exercise Zombie feeds itself on poorly designed exercises in the virtual classroom.  He comes to life during the most important sections of virtual classroom instruction, the interactivity, and thrives on confused and frustrated participants.  To keep the Exercise Zombie away from your virtual classroom, make sure you rehearse your exercises with a mock audience.  Instructions that may be crystal clear to you, may be murky to others.  By rehearsing, you can find and fix the exercises so they will run smoothly in your live session.

Photo credit: Flickr – Simon Owen Design