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Virtual Classroom

Virtual Classroom enabled by VoIP Technology
In this article we will discuss about a new type of online education method, which is computer and internet based. Unlike CD's and downloadable programs, this new method is interactive, the teacher and students can talk to each other in real time, and they can even see each other through the internet if the network bandwidth is sufficient. It is made possible by so-called "Voice-over-IP technology" (VoIP). It allows teachers and students to interact with each other in a set up called Virtual Classroom from their homes, work places, or anywhere.

What is VoIP Technology?
With the advances in network technologies, we are able to send voices over the internet now, which was mainly designed for data transmission using Internet Protocol. The way it works is that a group of data will be separated into individual packet, these packets are then transmitted from the sender to the designated receiver through internet. They can take different routes in the way, but will be repackaged to the original format at the receiver's end.

In case of voice transmission, since it is an analog signal, it will have to be converted to digital signals first, sent over internet to the receiver, and converted back to analog signals to resume the original voice. The major difference with the data transmission is voice conversations have to be in real time, with no delays and discontinuity, so it will be just like talking on the phone. The quality is getting there with the latest VoIP technologies.

What is a Virtual Classroom?
Unlike a physical classroom where the teacher and students are all in the same room, in a Virtual Classroom the teacher and the students are all sitting in front of their computers somewhere. They are able to listen and speak to each other using their computers and microphones through the internet. This is what we call a virtual classroom. It is actually very similar to a physical classroom, in that:

  • When one person speaks, the rest of the people in the room will be able to listen.
  • A student need to "raise hand" to request to speak, typically by clicking a button on the screen.
  • There will be a white board where the teacher can write down key words, sentences, and etc.

    For a live example, you can visit www.twinguide.com. This is a new website that is set up with the latest technology for English teachers and ESL students throughout the world.

    Andy Yan, Ph.D.
  • Author: Andy Yan, Ph.D.