Best Free Virtual Classroom Software: Building an Online Class

Published on October 27, 2021 • Updated on January 10, 2024 • About 6 min. read

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Offering a free virtual classroom for online teaching has become a necessity for educators. Virtual classroom software makes it easier to stay connected with students even if you have to stay far apart. So as you plan your online lessons this year, use this virtual classroom guide to get ready.

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Choose the right virtual classroom software

The best software for online teaching varies depending on your circumstances. For example, some virtual classroom software includes video communication, while other tools do not offer those features. To run your virtual classroom, use the following criteria to sort through the options for free online teaching:

1. Does the platform have a free version?

Depending on where you teach, your students might not be able to pay high prices for software. In that case, look for a free virtual classroom platform for students.

2. What are the security features?

Virtual classroom software needs robust security features because teachers and students often share personal information. Using a free virtual classroom platform that lacks strong security controls may lead to complaints from parents. Consider using a web conferencing tool in your virtual classroom since these tools typically have good security. Any you’ll get bonus points if the application is browser-based. These tools are subject to the security of the browser itself, and students can access them without downloading anything.

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3. Is there a limit on audience size?

Audience limitations are a critical factor when looking at virtual classrooms for online teaching and learning. Some software will work fine for a small group of students but fail with larger groups. Look for a platform that can handle all online course uses-cases, from one-on-one tutoring sessions to virtual lecture halls of thousands.

4. What are the engagement features?

It’s hard to beat the engagement levels of traditional in-person learning. Students can raise their hands to ask questions, make comments and interact with instructors with ease. Today’s video conferencing platforms have evolved to mimic many of these in-person interactions. Look for a platform that allows students and instructors to ask questions, chat, answer polls, share emoji reactions, or collaborate with virtual whiteboards.

By the way, don’t make the mistake of limiting yourself to traditional virtual classroom software options when you seek out the best software for online teaching. Many webinar platforms can be repurposed into online classrooms. Take a closer look at our guide to choosing webinar software for other ideas on picking the right tool for your classroom.

Set up a free virtual classroom with Livestorm

You can get a free virtual classroom for online teaching and learning with Livestorm to see if the software is right for you. To make online lessons easier, use these steps to get started with Livestorm.


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Plan your virtual lessons

To begin, you can sign up for a free Livestorm account. Arguably the easiest part of the process, all you have to do is sign up here. After registering, plan your online lessons. With Livestorm, you can share your screen, upload media, collaborate with virtual whiteboards, and more. Preparing some materials before your first day of class will make sure everything runs smoothly. Schedule your online lessons. Choose the date and time for your online lessons and invite your students to your free online teaching session.

Host great events

Once your lesson plan is in place and you become more familiar with the tool, you can start your first event! As students join your virtual classroom, please encourage them to say hello in the Livestorm chat. Asking students to say hi also helps you to double-check that everybody can hear you. Don’t worry about tracking anything. You’ll be able to access a report at the end of the session that shows you who attended.

During your lesson, use polls to your advantage. For example, a chemistry teacher could run a poll on the periodic table of elements to check if students understand the difference between hydrogen and iron.

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Learn more from your online lessons

When your class is over, offer students a replay. Livestorm makes it easy to record your online lessons so that students can watch the lesson again later. If you choose to record your online lessons, remind students each time that you are recording the session. Finally, use analytics for continuous improvement. For example, all of the poll responses will be recorded in your dashboard. As your online course comes to an end, review the analytics to find out which subjects you should emphasize in the final few online lessons.

Now that you know the fundamentals of setting up a virtual classroom, let’s look at a few more ways to make the most of your free virtual classroom software.

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Experience powerful video engagement

Livestorm helps teams collaborate and deliver memorable live or on-demand video experiences.

Customize your virtual classroom

Customizing your virtual classroom is a bright idea because it reassures students that they are in the right place. Customization makes your virtual classroom free of distractions.

  • Use consistent naming - In each of your online lessons, use a consistent naming convention. For instance, a teacher might name their courses “AP Physics – Week 1” so that students can easily find the course. Likewise, if your school has adopted virtual classroom software, it is best to adopt a consistent naming convention.
  • Start and end online lessons in the same way - consider using the same presentation slide at the beginning and end of each virtual classroom session. This approach to online lessons means students never have to wonder if they are in the right place.
  • Customize your email invites - virtual classroom software like Livestorm can send out email invites to students. Customize each of these messages so that your students can easily find the right invite! After all, your students might be attending multiple virtual classes throughout the day.
  • Practice with your teaching assistants first - when you first start virtual classroom software, it can take some time to fully learn how to use all of the different features. Running a practice session with other teachers or teaching assistants is brilliant because you can determine what you need to customize.

The degree of customization available in the free virtual classroom for online teaching and learning tools on the market varies. If you are unsure how much you can customize the tool, ask the virtual classroom software company for additional tips.


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Leverage video engagement tools

In a traditional classroom, it is easy for teachers to tell if students are losing interest. They might be using phones, tablets, or passing notes back and forth. However, in a virtual classroom world, it is more challenging to know if students are staying engaged. Fortunately, there are video engagement tools that make it easier to keep students fully engaged.

Engage audiences with polls and virtual backgrounds

In order to keep your online students engaged, use polls throughout the virtual classroom session. Use at least two quizzes (i.e., one in the first 10 minutes of the class and another close to the end of the session) so that students can test their understanding.

You might also want to vary your virtual backgrounds. For example, a history teacher could display a virtual background of the Coliseum or Forum in Rome to enhance an ancient history lesson. Adding a few high-quality background images can make a virtual classroom free from boredom.

Upload or share media

You don’t have to create online lessons from scratch every time. Check out the TED-Ed website for ideas. You can fund sort videos in health (e.g., why do we have to wear sunscreen?), literature (e.g., why should you read “Crime and Punishment”) and many other topics.

Learn more about the art of keeping people interested in what you have to say with a video engagement platform.

Easily record online lessons

Finding a free virtual classroom for online teaching and learning that supports video recording can be challenging. To help teachers and students, Livestorm makes it easy to record video lessons. Before you record online lessons for your students, prepare with these tips.

  • Practice by recording a short session - Before recording full-length online lessons, record a short lesson of 5 minutes only. Recording a short lesson first is helpful because you can quickly test your audio and video capabilities.
  • Advise your students about the recording - be mindful of student privacy and tell students before you record the session. If you answer questions during the recording, answer them without mentioning student names.
  • Review the recording before posting - before sharing the class recording, listen to a few parts of it first. Sometimes, glitches happen when you record events. Make a note of any parts of the recording that is unclear so that you can provide supplemental resources.
  • Send the recording in automated emails - some platforms will let you send recordings as follow-up emails, and you can schedule them automatically.

The best software for online teaching makes it easy to create recordings. To find the best video conferencing software, check out our guide to choosing the best video conferencing software.

Final thoughts

When you first start using virtual classroom software, be kind to yourself. It takes time for teachers and students to make online lessons work. If you encounter interesting problems with your virtual classes, come back to this post and use some of these engagement tips. To get started, get your free Livestorm account.