Moodle and Virtual Classrooms

As education continues to evolve, virtual classrooms have become an integral part of modern learning, allowing educators to engage with students remotely and provide an interactive synchronous learning experience. Moodle stands out as a flexible, secure and accessible open-source LMS for asynchronous learning. When Moodle works closely with a virtual classroom, the combined solution covers asynchronous and synchronous learning.

What is a virtual classroom?

A virtual classroom is a synchronous online learning environment that facilitates real-time remote education and training. It typically involves using digital platforms or software that simulate a traditional classroom setting, allowing students and teachers to interact and engage in real-time from anywhere with an internet connection. Virtual classrooms can be used for a wide range of educational purposes, including K-12 education, higher education, professional development, and lifelong learning.

They often feature tools such as: 

  • Synchronous audio, video, and screen sharing
  • Public and private chat functionality
  • Sharing of presentations and videos
  • Collaborative whiteboards to facilitate communication
  • Engagement tools for the teachers, such as polls, emojis, and raised hands
  • Breakout rooms for group collaboration

Benefits of using virtual classrooms

There are several benefits for both teachers and students when using a virtual classroom. Some of these benefits include:
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Access from anywhere, at any time, allowing flexible schedules and learning opportunities.

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Provides access to education for people who may not be able to attend traditional classrooms due to physical, geographic, or other barriers.

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LMS integration

Integration between an LMS and a virtual classroom enhances learners engagement through providing easy access to an environment where learners and educators can engage with each other.  Educators can customise, launch, and manage recordings to their LMS.

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A personalised learning experiences tailored to individual student needs and learning styles.

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Foster collaboration between students and teachers from diverse backgrounds and locations.

Video conferencing vs Virtual classrooms

Video conferencing vs Virtual classrooms

Video conferencing and virtual classrooms are related but distinct modes of online communication.

Video conferencing is typically used for meetings, presentations, and other workplace-related tasks, but it offers limited built-in tools for applied learning, leaving educators or trainers to rely on third-party tools and websites to deliver learning. This leads to time loss, more logins for students, less learner engagement, limited learner data analytics, and decreased learner outcomes.

On the other hand, a virtual classroom is specifically designed to improve learner engagement and outcomes. It offers a range of tools and features that support teaching and learning, such as breakout rooms, interactive whiteboards, and quizzes and polls.

You can read more about the differences between video conferencing and virtual classrooms in this blog.

Strengthening relationships

The first segment aims to build strong student relationships for active learning, encouraging engagement through participation and collaboration, rather than passive observation.

Structure of the virtual classroom

The virtual classroom is a structured environment to help educators bring focus to the learning material, and help students actively engage with learning concepts. Students who engage with the content and instruction during a virtual class will learn more, as active learning is far more effective than passive learning. As such, the structure of an effective virtual class focuses on maximising the time for applied learning and feedback. Unlike a video conference, which may just be one long meeting, an effective virtual class has four distinct segments, each contributing towards learning online. For more details on the structure of effective virtual classes, see the course Delivering Effective Virtual Classrooms in Moodle Academy.
Strengthening relationships
Strengthening relationships
Strengthening relationships

The first segment aims to build strong student relationships for active learning, encouraging engagement through participation and collaboration, rather than passive observation.

Review material with learners
Review material with learners
Review material with learners

Reviewing material with learners establishes a solid foundation of knowledge before previewing the main segment.

Break the content into bite-sized chunks
Break the content into bite-sized chunks
Break the content into bite-sized chunks

As a rule of thumb, the main segment divides content into bite-sized chunks (8-12 minutes max), followed by applied learning activities to engage the student’s brain. Through tasks, outcome evaluation, and feedback, educators can support struggling students in real time.

Summarise and recall key concepts
Summarise and recall key concepts
Summarise and recall key concepts
Towards the end of the class, students engage in active learning by summarizing and recalling key concepts. Instructors dedicate the last 10 minutes to kickstart the next assignment, providing valuable feedback and support to cultivate a virtuous cycle of applied learning. The idea is to help students realize that applying themselves and receiving feedback leads to faster learning.

Applied Learning: Polls, surveys, and breakout rooms

Virtual classrooms offer a range of features that enable teachers to create an interactive and engaging online learning environment. 

  • Chat rooms allow students to ask questions and engage in discussion.
  • Polling provides a way to do formative assessment to determine if students are learning.  Based on the results of the polls, teaching can be adjusted in the moment.. 
  • Breakout rooms enable small group discussions and activities, which promote collaboration and peer learning and build upon the pedagogy of Social Constructivism, the foundation on which Moodle is built.

These features not only enhance student engagement, but also help to build a sense of community within the virtual classroom.

Applied Learning: Polls, surveys, and breakout rooms
Choosing the right platform for your online classes

Choosing the right platform for your online classes

When choosing an online learning platform to host a virtual classroom, there are several key factors to consider to ensure that the platform meets your specific needs: 

  1. Ease of use: Ensure it’s user-friendly for both teachers and students.
  2. Functionality: Look for interactive whiteboards, video conferencing, screen sharing, file sharing, and messaging features.
  3. Customisation: The platform should allow branding and integration with other tools to match specific needs.
  4. Security: Prioritise robust security to protect data and prevent unauthorized access.
  5. Scalability: Ensure the platform can easily add or remove users, courses, or features as needed.
  6. Support: Seek reliable technical support for resolving any issues during virtual classroom sessions.
  7. Cost-effectiveness: Look for a platform with transparent pricing that aligns with the organization’s budget.
  8. Integration: Verify the platform’s compatibility with other teaching and learning tools, like learning management systems or student information systems.


BigBlueButton is a Moodle Certified Integration and open-source virtual classroom software designed to help teachers teach and learners learn. BigBlueButton offers built-in pedagogical tools, such as breakout rooms, multi-user whiteboard, smart slides, visual assessment, and polling to engage students in applied learning. The integration for BigBlueButton is built-into the core of Moodle, taking full advantage of the integration to give educators the ability to easily create, customise, and initiate virtual classes and manage recordings. During live classes, BigBlueButton offers a live Learning Analytics Dashboard, providing insight into which students are struggling so you can give them feedback in the moment. Because BigBlueButton gives you insights based on analytics, not webcams, you can easily pinpoint and monitor student performance.

Find out more about Moodle Certified Integrations

Our powerful and trustworthy add-ons will extend your online learning ecosystem, including our virtual classroom Moodle Certified Integrations.

Looking for Google Classroom alternatives?

While Google Classroom and other similar software tools have become popular choices for educators and learners alike, they may not maximise learner engagement and outcomes.. Some common issues may include limited functionality or difficulty in customising the platform to suit individual learning or teaching styles. Additionally, the software’s available resources or tools may restrict some educators.

For those seeking a more flexible and customisable solution, Moodle’s virtual learning solutions and Moodle Certified Integrations, such as BigBlueButton, are worth exploring.

Looking for Google Classroom alternatives?
Looking for Microsoft Teams alternatives or Zoom alternatives?

Looking for Microsoft Teams alternatives or Zoom alternatives?

Microsoft Teams primarily serves as a business-focused collaborative environment, lacking extensive built-in tools for engagement and applied learning, which may not be ideal for younger learners. Similarly, Zoom emphasizes webcams and screen sharing, but it falls short in offering a range of active learning experiences that purpose-built virtual classrooms like BigBlueButton can provide.

The limited effectiveness of classes taught via Teams and Zoom during COVID-19 stems from the fact that sharing screens alone doesn’t promote active learning. For optimal learning outcomes, it’s essential to choose a virtual classroom designed around pedagogy, focusing on fostering active engagement rather than being solely geared towards business meetings. Moreover, virtual classrooms grant teachers the flexibility to manage video feeds, creating a conducive learning environment where students can focus on the lesson without unnecessary distractions while allowing educators to gain better insights into their reactions.