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4 min read
The Importance of Community and How to Improve the Virtual Classroom Experience

Students love learning in community, and it has never been more important than it is right now. Not only does learning within the community enhance results and create highly sought-after skills like teamwork and cooperation, but that lack of community has proven to be detrimental to students’ academics as well as their mental health.

Impact of Isolation

The results of a recent study from the Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry stunningly state that “Social isolation and loneliness increased the risk of depression, and possibly anxiety at the time at which loneliness was measured and between 0.25 and 9 years later. Duration of loneliness was more strongly correlated with mental health symptoms than the intensity of loneliness.”

Not only is loneliness a huge factor in depression and anxiety in students, but its duration is impactful as well. The technological tools we have available can help to prevent mental health hardships for students for up to nine years into their future!

Along with the impact on mental health, learning together with other students has proven to enhance learning outcomes and critical thinking skills. When a collaborative effort is applied, students who lack confidence in an area can be influenced positively by peers, particularly in a partner setting as this study from Cognitive Research Journal shows, resulting in a greater number of correct answers and increased confidence in students. 

With so much at stake, educators have a tall order in the post-Covid day and age: learning to use technology in a way that fosters meaningful community among their students. As such, we must be able to stay seamlessly connected during potential disruptions to our norms, both the expected and the unexpected. It’s never been more important to have this technology already in place and ready for students to access. 

Better Technology Ensures a Better Community

 We’ve seen how extremely important community to students and their well-being. When current technology and multiple platforms make our efforts cumbersome, we are fighting a losing battle. Students and teachers have enough to overcome, finding their way through difficult and unclear technology shouldn’t be part of the equation. A seamless experience that connects video and chat makes a virtual classroom dependable and is key to a successful virtual classroom. 

Cancel Confusion by Using One Tool for Communication 

Too many options when it comes to classroom technology can lead to a disconnect between students and their learning community. Using several different applications for various forms of communication can be confusing to students. Does the class meet on Zoom, but the chat takes place in another app? It’s a lot to keep straight and the overall effect can be a deterrent to our goals for a cohesive community. 

Using multiple avenues can also be a social barrier to students. They may recognize a student in a video from class, but they may not have any other student’s cell phone number or another way to reach out and get support. Without a meaningful group chat system, students who don’t already have friends in class can get left out of the loop. This creates opportunities for missed connections and is something that neither educators nor students can afford. Instead, we should offer students a community feel from start to finish and ensure that they stay connected and included, with no cliques and no one left out. 

Dependable Availability Helps Students Relax

Pronto bridges the gaps in communication through technology by allowing 24/7 inclusive availability, outside of the parameters of the physical classroom as well as the virtual meet-ups. If students feel that they can only access their groups at certain blocks of time, it can lead to feeling overwhelmed during planned class meet-ups. Whether it’s questions about an assignment or help they need on a particular subject, students need to know that someone is available to reach almost any time. It helps to diffuse a lot of pressure for students to think of all their questions during one window, so they can better focus on the topic at hand. This leads to overall better learning outcomes because anxiety is reduced. 

On a practical level, this looks like having group video sessions where students can interact with instructors and each other, where the video is also recorded for them and accessible for reference. Entire classrooms can then chat through the same program which creates continuity and fosters a learning process that doesn’t end when class is over. It may seem like small changes but having it all in one place gives the student a sense of security and dependability that other applications don’t allow for. At Pronto, we know that educators need the best tools available to them and we are here to support you in creating a coherent group learning experience. Let us show you what we can offer, contact us to book a demo today!