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Virtual Classrooms: A “how to” guide

Updated: Sep 29, 2021

In our current world, virtual classrooms have become very popular and used by teachers to engage students in their learning while schools are closed or students are learning from home. I have been very lucky currently in Northern Territory, Australia where my school did not close and online remote learning was not required. However, on the last school holiday break I explored virtual classrooms and made my own. While my students are present each day, I use my virtual classroom to engage the class each morning and at the beginning of each lesson. It has been great to see my students excited to see how the classroom has changed each day and they love clicking items in the classroom that take them to games, slide shows, videos and more fun links that help them in each lesson. Here is a step-by-step guide on making and using your own virtual classroom:

Step 1: Open a new slide show

Using Google Slides for a virtual classroom is super easy. Begin with a blank slide.

Step 2: Background

To create your classroom background search for images of “wall and floor” and copy the image you like into the slide and adjust if necessary. Search for PNG or transparent background images of items you want to be in your classroom that you will not need to be hyperlinked or moved. This may be furniture, whiteboard, shelving or decorative items. Images are best in “front view” and if the image you want does not have a transparent background use “remove background” websites to change the image. When your background is complete, download the slide as a JPEG and add a new blank slide. Upload the JPEG image as a “background” to your new slide. Nothing will be able to be clicked on or moved. The old background slide can be deleted.

Virtual classroom background
Virtual classroom background

Step 3: Extra Classroom Items

To your new slide with your custom background, select and find images of classroom objects to add and hyperlink. For example, the cover of the book you may be reading that week, maths resources, english resources, globe, science equipment, posters, clock and more. These items will be used by students to engage with the classroom. Select images of objects with transparent backgrounds or PNG images and copy into the slide. The message on the board could be changed each day depending on the timetable, school events and calendar.

Step 4: Hyperlink to Resources

Depending on the lesson or subject, hyperlink items (images of objects) in your classroom to videos, other slide presentations, online games and websites by clicking on the object and pressing the “link/hyperlink” button. Copy and paste the URL to add the link. When you’re in presentation mode, your students will be able to click on the maths poster for example, and it will go to a game about the maths skill they are practising for the week or you could click on the clock to go to an online timer when you set students to a task.

Step 5: Insert your Bitmoji

Use the Bitmoji app to create your avatar. Install the extension to your Google Account and search for a sticker. When you’ve found one, add the Bitmoji sticker to your Google Slide. Crop the extra space around your avatar, especially if it is over the top of other objects that require clicking or reorder the objects so the one to click is in front of the outside avatar space. If the space around your avatar is covering an object you want to interact with in presentation mode, you won’t be able to click on it and go to the location hyperlinked. You can move or change your avatar throughout the day depending on what is happening in the school day.

Step 6: Present

Enter presentation mode and begin interacting with objects by clicking. When you click on an object it will open in a new tab. When you’ve finished with the tab you can close it and return to the presentation slide. Make sure there is only one slide in your presentation or you risk changing slides when you click the object or screen.

Have a play with your virtual classroom and please share with me. Feel free to ask me questions through the comments or on my social media accounts - I’m always happy to help!

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