Back in those days, students migrate to other places to pursue a career. Students travel from rural areas to urban towns, interstate and even across the borders. But students in this era are gifted to experience the technology, which has a direct impact on oneself. An Indian can pursue Masters in Australia or England or even in the United States, staying at her/his own place. One can even complete the certification courses from a well-established university sitting in her/his own place. Virtual classroom software bridges such a gap.
This is applicable to businesses as well. Virtual classroom software is useful for remote employees to connect real-time for the training sessions. Regular office goers can also take part in training sessions on the weekends from their own place.
What is a virtual classroom?
A virtual classroom is an online platform where students and teachers connect and interact via the technical tools provided by the software. A virtual classroom software is used by the educational institutions to connect with the students to host classes remotely maintaining the functionality available in a traditional classroom environment.
In simple words, a virtual classroom is a digital replica of a traditional classroom or a training room. As the same what takes place in traditional classrooms, a virtual classroom instructor teaches and the participants learn face-to-face, in real-time via internet-enabled technological devices. Everything remains the way it is. The only difference is the absence of a direct presence.
One can address to a geographically dispersed audience at one time. The online classroom software works in a similar way for businesses. The employer can train the employees even when the stakeholders are on the move. The employees can access the e-learning material and attend the live sessions via tablets, laptops and smartphones.
How to choose a good virtual classroom software?
Before choosing any software, one should check for the features that would suit your need.
1. HD video conferencing
The quality of the video should be in good quality for better user experience.
2. Participant limit
This is a key factor that totally depends upon the number of trainees/students you train/teach. Each software has determined the maximum number of participants and it is also based on the plan you opt.
3. Real-time collaboration
Classes are interactive and so is necessary to ensure the collaboration in online classes. Real-time interactions with learners during the live class is necessary.
A library is a place where all the contents are stored. The contents are stored in the cloud and it can be accessed from anywhere at any time. The library supports all types of files like text, audio, video, PPT and files in different formats – PDF, JPEG, DOC, DOCX, GIF, MP3, MP4, etc.
5. Server-side recording
Number of students or employees take part in an online classroom. The trainer can’t afford to reteach just to one person who missed to attend the session. Therefore, your software should an option to record the video and save it on its server-side.
Training is nothing without whiteboards. Trainers, like in the classroom, would need a whiteboard to draw illustrate, show diagrams, upload images, presentations and videos from the library.
There is some software that is free of cost and partially free of cost till a certain point of the feature. To access all the features of the software, one needs to pay a certain price. There are a variety of pricing options based on the number of features one could avail of.
Before subscribing online classroom software, one should consider the above-said features to determine the need.
Advantages of a virtual classroom
A virtual classroom is an e-learning concept to enable the students and educators to impart and perceive education online. It also allows interacting, communicate and work together staying remotely. The advantages of a virtual classroom software are as follows.
The main advantage a virtual classroom software is that it enables people from distinct locations to learn. Students and employees can attend the training program from their own place. Students can learn different courses offered by foreign universities.
2. Online recording
In a classroom, a lecture or a training program is not recorded until there is a specific set-up. Using online classroom software, one can save a specific lecture or a training program. It helps those students and the employees who missed the session to go through the same.
3. Document sharing
Any kind of document can be shared from anywhere. Like a reference point to the lecture, one can share the relevant articles, images, presentations, videos, etc. It is viewable by everyone who has access to it.
4. Participation and engagement
It may seem like the chances for participating and engagement is more in traditional classes. It is definitely not true. There are many ways to connect and interact in virtual classrooms through chat and other rating features. It allows encourages the person who may not be comfortable with interacting in-person. The administrators can determine the quality of the content by the rating and the comments posted by the trainees.
5. Flexibility in learning
Virtual classroom software helps the learners optimize and manage their time. One can take part in the class during their break time, travel time and from any place. This type of flexibility is not possible in traditional classrooms.
Traditional black or whiteboards are used in the classrooms and they are erased after the lecture and even erased during the class if the board is full. Using virtual classroom software, one can use the whiteboards and also save them for future references.
Best virtual classrooms software
1. Adobe Connect
If you have a certain experience with virtual classroom software, then you would have undoubtedly come across Adobe Connect. This software has witnessed good traction in the higher education vertical.
Adobe offers various plans like ‘Adobe Connect Meetings’. ‘Adobe Connect Webinars’, and ‘Adobe Connect Learnings’. Adobe Connect Meetings is for the purpose of conducting meetings with up to 25 participants. Adobe Connect Webinars is for all-in-one webinar solutions for marketers. There are three options based on the number of participants – 100, 500 and 1000. Adobe Connect Learning is the complete virtual classroom solution for educators and trainers. It allows a maximum of 200 participants.
The Adobe Connect Learning is the perfect one for a virtual classroom software as the features include an interactive whiteboard, polls, interactive, discussion tools, high-quality video, short answer questions, conducting polls, cloud storage, etc.
Pricing: It costs USD 370 for one month and USD 3500 for a year. A free trial is offered for 30 days.
Adobe connects meetings start with a USD 50 per month with a few variations in the features and number of participants.
2. Blackboard collaborate
Blackboard collaborate is a specific one for institutions for online collaboration to deliver personalized, engaging and flexible learning options for the students. Likewise, the naming of the different plans is proving its specification for students – classroom license, department license and enterprise license.
In the classroom license, a maximum of 100 attendees can take part in the session with a storage limit of 350 hours and 100 GB with a limit in the number of classrooms. The department license allows up to 500 users, the storage limit to 1750 hours and 500 GB with no limit in the number of classrooms. The enterprise license also allows up to 500 users whereas the storage limit and hours are customized with no limit in the number of classrooms. There is also a blackboard collaborate plan tailored to meet the institution’s specific needs. HD audio and video, usage and attendance reports, session creating and scheduling are the common features for all the three versions.
Pricing: The classroom license costs USD 300 per year. The department license costs USD 9000 per year. The enterprise access, being a customized one, is based on the requirement and customized design.
Newrow virtual classes are completely web-based which does not require a flash, download, or installations. One can also create online courses and it is a purpose-built for teaching online.
Newrow offers platforms for meetings, classrooms and webinars. There are two versions for newrow – virtual classroom 50 and virtual classroom 200. In classroom 50, up to 50 participants can be hosted and up to 200 participants can be hosted in classroom 200 plan. Digital whiteboard, cloud recording, screen sharing breakout rooms, real-time notes, live quizzes, YouTube integration, cloud storage are some of the common features of both the plans.
Newrow cloud recording captures the content you share like PDFs, videos, etc. It is added as an MP4 video. One can also choose the particular time duration of the recording and can also extend the duration. The cloud storage also supports several file types like PPT, PPTX, PDF, DOC, DOCX, MP3, MP4, etc.
Pricing: The plan virtual classroom 50 costs USD 45 per month. Virtual classroom 200 costs USD 90 per month.
4. ezTalks Webinar
Like other software, this one also helps the institutions, colleges, universities and even businesses to organize live classes and share important knowledge with its features.
HD video and its clear audio enable face-to-face collaboration in real-time. eztalks present a free version which can host up to 25 participants with 1 presenter for 100-minutes duration for all webinar. You need to upgrade to the paid version if you would like to continue above 100 minute duration (cumulative of all calls). There are 3 paid versions – standard, pro and business. The standard version can host up to 50 participants and 4 presenters, unlimited duration of calls with cloud storage of 2 GB.
The pro version can host from 100 to 500 participants with 25 presenters with cloud storage of 4 GB. The business version can host from 1000 participants to 10000 participants at a time with 100 presenters with 10 GB cloud storage. Though, all the webinar plans include screen sharing, interactive whiteboard, instant chat, polls and surveys, webinar cloud storage, cloud recording, register & participants report, replay & download recordings, etc.
Pricing: The standard license costs USD 25 per month. The pro license costs from USD 32 to USD 120 per month. The business license costs from USD 300 per month to USD 6000 per month.
WizIq is a cloud-based virtual classroom software. It provides complete solutions to tutors, universities and organizations to deliver live online classes and to launch self-paced courses. One can launch its own custom-branded learning or training portal with some features like customized mobile applications, virtual classroom, test & assessment builder, eCommerce and reports.
There are three versions of the paid software – professional, enterprise and pay-per-use. By using the professional version, you can opt for three participant options – 10, 25, and 50. The duration of the class can last up to 120 minutes with 10 GB storage. By using the enterprise version, you can opt for 4 participant options – 10, 25, 50, and 100 with 50 GB data storage. The pay-per-use version can host up to 300 participants.
The duration of the class can last up to 300 minutes for both the enterprise and pay-per-use version. Chat, audio & video communication, whiteboard, content library, screen sharing, polling, file sharing (PPT, video, doc, etc.), MP4 recording on the cloud are the common features of all the three versions.
Pricing: The pricing starts from USD 25 per month. But the pricing for all the three versions would be disclosed only when inquired. Though, the pricing is charged per minute for the pay-per-use version. There is also a free trail for a period of 14 days.
First, it is important to analyse your need. If you are a mentor for a PhD student, it is all about one-to-one interaction. There is software that is free of cost for such requirements. If you would be teaching or training the students or employees only once, many software offers a trial period of up to 15 days and even one month. If yours is going to be a continuous process, you can opt for the best options that would cater to your requirement.
1. What is a virtual classroom?
A virtual classroom is an online platform where students and teachers connect and interact via the technical tools provided by the software. A virtual classroom is a digital replica of a traditional classroom or a training room. As the same what takes place in traditional classrooms, a virtual classroom instructor teaches and the participants learn face-to-face, in real-time via internet-enabled technological devices.
2. What are the advantages of a virtual classroom?
Time flexibility in attending the classes, attending the classes from remote locations, an instant reference to documents, session recording are the major advantages of a virtual classroom.
3. Which are the best virtual classroom software?
Adobe Connect, Blackboard collaborate, newrow, ezTalks Webinar, WizIq are the best virtual classroom software.
4. What is the best free virtual classroom software in India?
BigBlueButton is a free virtual classroom software in India. It is open-source software – free for both personal and commercial use.