VIRTUAL "RESOURCE ROOM" EVALUATION

 
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When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the United States of America, education shifted from a primarily in-person experience to a fully remote experience. Educators are concerned with how virtual schooling can be effective while missing critical, in-person interactions. One popular solution to this issue is creating virtual classrooms using Google Classroom or Microsoft PowerPoint, providing an interactive environment for students to explore, much like a real-world classroom or office space. These virtual environments provide a familiar metaphor for students to explore and interact with elements in the virtual classroom, with engaging graphics and resources to supplement the online curriculum. However, there are criticisms of using virtual classrooms, including accessibility and usability issues, which make the transmission of curriculum-related information difficult. These issues are theorized to arise because teachers, who are not necessarily usability or design experts, are required to create these virtual classrooms without guidance or training, introducing issues into the final design due to a lack of knowledge of interaction design. I examine some strengths and weaknesses of the virtual classrooms being employed in school districts across the country through the evaluation of a client’s own virtual room, called a “resource room”.  The evaluation also includes background research on multiple virtual rooms used within and outside the client’s school district, with a synthesis of examples of good and bad design. The evaluation also includes design suggestions for future iterations of the virtual resource room.