The term “virtual classroom” is a complex and often misunderstood term. When we think of a virtual classroom, most of us default to our own experiences with what we perceive to be a virtual classroom or otherwise branded. But just because it has the name doesn’t necessarily mean it meets the standard.

What is a virtual classroom? The actual definition is somewhat hazy, hence why it is an often misused label. The virtual classroom is not just another learning platform brought to you by Zoom or Webex. It is an integrated and adaptive learning environment that brings together all teaching styles and strategies to provide learners with an engaging environment to improve continuously. The virtual classroom offers familiar aspects of the traditional classroom, such as an instructor or learning leader. In addition, collaboration exists between learners in the form of shared discussions and learning teams. Interactive learning components, such as eLearning modules, instructional videos, and downloadable guides and tip sheets are meant to improve this unique learning experience.

As we have found through live, in-person learning, people are vastly different, and as a result, they learn and absorb information differently. By leveraging a “cookie-cutter” approach to distance learning, facilitators often find their online learning events and content “lacking.” Have you ever signed into a webinar, walked away, and returned later? This is often the case for learning that has little to no engagement.

Efficiency and success within the virtual classroom start in the design phase. Many online iterations have content transferred from an in-person curriculum and expected to fit into the virtual approach. Occasionally, this works for a short time. When virtual learning aspects are integrated into the design phase, the content is provided in a way that allows for student engagement.

Conversations must be had, much like in a live in-person classroom environment. The person-to-person component is what many transitions miss. What about polls and surveys? These can be integrated into any virtual classroom event to keep the learners engaged and aligned with the content and overall approach. By taking the time to design your content for a virtual delivery, you will have the ability to provide quality and a long-term learning approach. You can motivate your learners by providing them with relevant and engaging training that they will remember and use for the rest of their careers.

Not all things are created equal, especially as it pertains to training. Take the time to measure your approach, twice if you need to, to ensure that come implementation, your process is seamless and fruitful for the coming years.