The Corona Virus Pandemic of 2020 has given us a good idea about how classes can go on online. While this is not the best time to feel completely productive, we can still continue some activities online to feel a bit close to normal and not panic. One such activity is attending or taking a class online.
This is the best time to learn all things new and things you were once interested in. It is the best time to share what you know with the world. Because everyone may not productive but you and others have the time.
Now, there are many ways people communicate over the internet. But, to create the environment like an actual classroom, you need a virtual classroom. You may think why Facebook Live or Zoom cannot be just the online classroom. There are many reasons and we will share them with you.
Apart from that, we will introduce you to the free virtual classrooms that are quite close to the traditional classroom.
How is a free virtual classroom different?
A virtual classroom is not only different from a traditional one but it is also different from the apps you use to usually conduct classes. This is because a virtual classroom has tools that make it more like an actual classroom.
Also, it is easier to keep track of things in a virtual classroom. For example, you can keep notes, get reminders for submissions, have full reports on student progress, etc. On the other hand, apps like Zoom or Facebook Live only let you conduct a class.
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Once you are done, if you haven’t recorded, everything gets lost. So, if you want to order and ease when conducting a class then a virtual classroom can be your platform of choice.
Review of a few of the best free Virtual Classrooms
1. NewRow Smart
You can choose to use this virtual classroom for free or you can pay for it to get more advanced features. However, what it offers for free should be able to keep you satisfied for a very long time. You should know that the platform you choose should not just be easy for you to use and access but for your students too.
In fact, NewRow is such a platform that requires no download, plugins, or flash to access. Your students will not have trouble accessing it. Furthermore, it has such features that make teaching very easy online. You get a whiteboard, screen sharing option as well to explain things live.
In fact, you can upload videos and presentations as well. The platform also is compatible with most LMS and it will help you interact with your students through quizzes, texts, and more. It also gives you a report on the performance and progress of students.
If you are looking for a virtual classroom platform that has been there for a long time then the BigBlueButton may just qualify. In fact, it started way back when people weren’t very open to the idea of virtual classrooms.
It lets you share files and also share your screen. Furthermore, it lets up to fifteen webcams broadcast at a time. So, if you have a limited number of students, you can easily communicate with them on this platform.
This platform is also compatible with most LMS. And, the best news of all is that it is completely free.
If you do not want the students to download a heavy file to join the class then LearnCube is the way to go. In fact, it is a browser-based platform that lets you and the students access it without any other requirement. You can upload content on it. Furthermore, you can use the interactive whiteboard feature when teaching.
It also lets you record a class. The main benefit of LearnCube is that you can and anyone else can use it quite easily. Furthermore, you can use it for free using the Basic Plan.
Now, this is a name you will come across very often when looking for virtual classrooms. Of course, it has not reached such a state without valid reasons. WizIQ has many features that make online classes easy for the teacher and also the students.
Furthermore, it lets you customize things to some extent as well. You can try out live teaching along with interactive whiteboard facilities. As the name suggests you can set up quizzes as well. It has shared coding features with an integrated development environment.
Your students will be able to access it easily as well.
5. Electa Live
If you want to have pretty much everything you want from an online classroom, you try this Electa live platform out. Why? Because not only does it make taking online live classes easy but it also makes keeping track of things easier.
You can have resource libraries, recorded sessions, etc. in it. So, students, even if they miss a class can have access to what you taught. Furthermore, it makes your course interactive with tests and assessments. You can give your students assignments, homework and more.
So, you will be able to know if your students are actually learning what you are trying to teach them.
If you want to see if your students are actually paying attention then you can try the Vedamo learning platform out. Because it lets you host live face-to-face and virtual sessions. Furthermore, it can also keep records of such sessions.
You can also manage the various courses you teach by arranging the content for each. And, if you need to show the students something, you can share your screen with them. The best part is that you can directly communicate with your student on this virtual platform. It won’t feel like a monotonous teaching session where you are just lecturing yourself.
If you mainly provide training and you find it essential to communicate with your students face-to-face then the ezTalks may be what you are looking for. Apparently, it is a web-based video conferencing tool where you can text as well.
Therefore, when you are giving a lecturer, a student can ask a question without interrupting your flow. Then, you can answer when you are ready to answer it. It does not have a lot of features to keep track of the class that has happened but it works like a meeting.
You also have a room calendar sync function that you can utilize. It allows you to conduct video webinars and also audio conferences.
If you are looking for a cloud-based virtual classroom, this is a good place to begin, In fact, it lets you make your classroom feel quite alive. Because you will be in motion.
You will be able to conduct video conferences, whiteboards alongside chats, and also live classroom sessions. So, you will feel like you are taking traditional class from your home.
Things you have to keep in mind when choosing virtual classroom
So, how do you choose from so many virtual classroom platforms available? You keep in mind what you can do and what the classroom can provide you with.
- The ease of access
You do not want to go through a hundred barriers before you can actually set up your course. Furthermore, you also do not want your course to be so hard to access that you do not get students.
This is why you have to check how easily you can make a course in a virtual classroom. Then, you have to check how easily your students can access it. Because if you have to download heavy files just to take a virtual class- both you and your students will lose interest.
- The features the platform offers
There are certain features you need and ones that you can do without. You have to make sure that the platform you choose has the features you need. For example, you may take a course that does not have mathematics in it but needs you to talk and present.
In this case, you need a platform that allows you to host live videos or at least share videos of your presentation. Again, there are courses like Physics where it is best if you can have a board to explain things on while talking, just like in a traditional classroom. In this case, the whiteboard feature is essential.
You may want immediate feedback from your students as well. In which case you need a face-to-face video conferencing ability.
Apart from these, there are other features you will have to consider like – ability to give assignments, take submissions. You may want to keep a course outline permanently uploaded. Then, you can wish for interactive features like quizzes. Also, if you want to make assessments easier, many online platforms calculate your student’s results for you.
So, these are features you can choose from. And, there are features you cannot do without. So, it is essential that you check the platform has the feature you need most.
- The price and free features
Most virtual classroom platforms let you access some features for free. In fact, you usually have to buy it after a while or if you want more advanced features, you have to pay for it. Whatever the case, you have to decide how much you can spend per month and if it is worth spending it on the features you are getting.
Your budget is up to you and based on that you will have to limit what you want from a platform. Of course, there are free platforms available. But, they may not provide you with the features you really need.
The Benefits of a Virtual Classroom
You may like the old ways and want to stick to it. Yes, there is nothing like a traditional classroom. In fact, it is the best way to feel humane.
However, this Pandemic has taught us how energy, times, even fuel can be saved by conducting classrooms online. The virtual classroom does not really have many bounds. Anyone from anywhere can access the classroom.
Therefore, you can have the entire world as your audience. Furthermore, everything becomes easy on it. Keeping track of what comes in the future and also of what you already did in the past.
You can also easily find out the students who are lagging behind and they can consult with you whenever they want. So, even when the Pandemic is over, people will turn to online courses.
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Because they have seen how easy and knowledgeable this is. With them being productive elsewhere or in their traditional classrooms as well- they will be motivated towards the online platform as well. You see, it is necessary to keep the variety alive.
If you want to get the true value of your knowledge and skills, you should flaunt it where it will be accepted. The virtual classrooms are a great platform for this very job. You can set up courses of any type and if you are good enough, you will get responses. The reach will definitely be higher.
Furthermore, you can use the virtual platform for your actual students as well. Because it is always easier to instruct and help them more if you are connected to them online as well. So, now you know what virtual classrooms are and what they can do for you. It is time for you to choose one, learn it, upload your content, and shine!