Teacher to student interactions, along with student to teacher and student to student interactions, are all part of the learning experience. Spontaneous and random interactions via questions or stated opinions are necessary in presenting a full scope of the subject being taught. In the virtual classroom, the teacher is usually able to interact with only one student at a time and it is from behind a computer screen. Raising questions and listening to other students’ opinions typically takes place through group message boards, as opposed to real time, face to face communication. Teachers are not taught simply to pass on facts and figures to their students and then check out for the day.
The skills of a teacher go beyond the material to also encompass their ability to lead students, filter through material when it isn’t well received by a class, change up material if needed and even handle random questions that may create the need to explore a thought more carefully. Teachers are meant to lead in a real life classroom setting where face to face interactions with students set the dynamic for the design and implementation of the day’s lessons and materials. Classroom teaching is where it all started, and it continues to be the place where teachers develop their styles of instructing. The virtual classroom tries to overcome the lack of teacher to student interaction through the implementation of live lecturing, video chatting and messaging with multiple students. However, the efforts to create a classroom environment simply cannot compete with the real thing.
Virtual teachers often train in a classroom setting in order to handle interaction with other students through the virtual classroom. Taking away classroom teaching would end classroom training, leaving even virtual teachers at a loss for the tools needed to handle the increase in online teacher to student interactions. Any teacher who has taught in a real life classroom setting knows that students can change the way a day’s lesson goes. A student can ask a question related to the subject matter that creates the need to pause for a moment and explore an entirely different topic. In the same way, students can play off of one another.
For instance, perhaps the teacher asks a question and the answer given by a student leads to an additional answer or question from another student. Before long, the teacher has guided the students’ thoughts and questions into a deeper study of the subject matter, helping them gain more insight; however, that’s not likely to happen in the virtual classroom.