Switching from traditional classrooms to an e-learning environment can be a struggle. Technical issues, keeping students engaged, and staying on top of key learning metrics are all big challenges.
You’ve heard about virtual classroom software, but do you know everything it can do? Once you’re clear on that, you’ll be better prepared to pick the right solution for your class.
That’s why we’ve put together a complete breakdown of all the must-have virtual classroom features and the best platforms available.
Virtual classroom software enables teachers and learners to hold classes online. The software includes features like video conferencing for education so that participants can replicate the classroom setting via video call. Virtual classroom software enables attendees to:
You can also use virtual classroom software for hybrid learning, where some students are in the physical classroom and others connect virtually.
The best virtual classroom software combines all the features of a traditional classroom with the benefits of virtual learning technology. Must-have features include:
Check that the video conferencing technology is stable and reliable - it’s never a good look if the software fails during a class. Like Livestorm’s browser-based platform, this functionality should also be easy for students to use for free, without downloading any additional apps.
The last thing you want is a Zoom bomber jumping into your class and creating chaos (especially if your students are children!). It’s vital for your reputation as an educator that all your students’ personal information is safe, too.
If you want to quickly explain a concept visually the best way to do it is with an online whiteboard. To drive engagement, the digital whiteboard should also be interactive, letting students join in and collaborate. If your virtual classroom software doesn’t have this feature, look out for integrations with a whiteboard app like Miro.
With extra distractions and less face-to-face connection, you need to work harder to engage attendees remotely. Look for a platform like Livestorm that offers engagement tools like live polls and a Q&A tab. Use them to create fun quiz assessments or start lively discussions.
With in-person classes it’s easy to split students into pairs or groups. To do this online you need to make sure the virtual classroom software has breakout rooms. With Livestorm, you can divide students up automatically or manually to collaborate in smaller groups inside the virtual classroom.
Diversify your lesson delivery by sharing your screen to present slides or multimedia content. Sharing a presentation helps students follow along with text prompts and audio/video catches learners’ attention and keeps the class varied. Choose a virtual classroom solution that allows you to share your screen and your computer’s audio.
Every teacher needs an easy way to share digital resources like class notes or extra reading. Sending files in an email after class is clunky so make sure the virtual classroom software has a way to easily share documents inside the class, like Livestorm’s Handouts plugin.
Has a student missed class? Do they want to hear your excellent explanation of the topic again? Opt for a solution that allows you to record the lesson and share it after. For example, with Livestorm you can automatically send emails with the lesson recording after the class.
Without preaching too much to the choir, knowledge is power. The more information you have about class attendance and engagement the better your course will go. Choose a platform that has a detailed analytics dashboard and participation reports. With Livestorm you can track students’ in-class engagement levels, attendance, and whether they’ve watched lesson recordings.
The first thing students see is also one of the most important. You should have an attractive and informative registration page that tells students what they need to know about your virtual classes. Look for a software solution that lets you fully customize your registration pages with your branding and designs.
What you need from a virtual classroom will depend on your situation, so we’ve put together a list of the best software available for all scenarios.
Surprised? You shouldn’t be! Livestorm is the learning platform that does it all and includes every must-have feature of virtual classroom software. Livestorm is a versatile solution that you can use for large classes, breakout groups, or one-to-one tutoring.
Livestorm has a variety of features to keep students engaged:
Livestorm saves and records all of these engagements on your analytics dashboard. This is where you can easily identify struggling students and notice high performers.
The dashboard also gives you access to student attendance and progress data to see their learning journey in one convenient place. You can export all these analytics to CSV spreadsheet files, to keep personal copies or share with colleagues.
Livestorm also has strong security features, including:
Users love how easy it is to use and how it drives engagement. One user on G2 wrote, "I like its ease of use primarily, very easy as an admin to set up and track all of your events, it is also super easy from an attendee's perspective, and because of that, we see higher engagement."
LearnCube is an LMS and virtual classroom platform that’s ideal for learning institutions up to higher education. Its online course software allows you to:
As for the virtual classroom, users praise the presentation and file-sharing features. According to a user on G2, “The screen share and whiteboard features are extremely useful when working with students. Being able to have both teacher and student upload, share, and write directly on virtual worksheets makes online tutoring much easier.”
WizIQ is a web-based virtual classroom and teacher discovery platform where you can launch a custom-branded learning portal. Learners can then search for and rate your courses. WizIQ also offers:
Users say the content library and marketing features also stand out. “The content library is a very useful option where I can store all my content,” states one review on G2. “The launch of several courses and the built-in marketing and promotion function to invite students using a contact database is very useful.”
Adobe Connect is a video conferencing platform that specializes in virtual training for businesses and education. Stand-out features include:
Adobe Connect users are fans of the attractive interface and the high-quality video. According to a G2 review, “The visually pleasing interface provides end-to-end quality from HD video and audio without interruptions or glitches, it is perfect for organizing immediate video conferences in an attractive and intelligent way.”
Blackboard Collaborate is a virtual classroom and LMS that specializes in kindergarten to 12th-grade teaching. The platform includes a ‘Personalized Learning Designer’ that allows you to:
Users are especially happy with how easy it is to use. “Surprisingly easy to use and easy to combine with other elements of Blackboard, including the ability to use documents and files for students and professors,” said a reviewer on G2.
Webex Meetings is a virtual conference platform that has some great tech for virtual classrooms not found in other software solutions. These include:
Webex Meetings users are also impressed by the calendar integration and scheduling features . A user shared, “I can start a meeting with a simple click, I can organize my agenda and see pending from the same place, synchronizing the calendar is very easy.”
RingCentral Video is an online meeting tool that’s great for live classes on a budget. It offers an impressive free pricing tier, which lets you teach classes with up to 100 students for as long as 24 hours. It also boasts:
Users are especially happy with the interface and chat features.“The most amazing thing is the interface, it's so easy to work on, and even a child can operate it,” said a user on G2. “It provides an emoji feature to make conversation a little bit casual and entertaining.”
Now you know the best options out there, it's time to decide which one is the right fit for you. Here are some factors to consider:
So you know your breakout rooms from your registration pages. You’ve defined your typical student and you’ve got a solid list of ‘must have’ features. Now it’s time to try out some virtual classroom software. See which of these options best fits your situation:
Virtual classrooms connect teachers and students using video conferencing software like Livestorm. The aim is to replicate a traditional classroom in an online setting. Virtual classrooms also allow you to:
The difference between a virtual classroom and a learning management system (LMS) is that a virtual classroom allows you to have classes online and an LMS enables you to create online courses.
An LMS is where you create the curriculum and lesson structure and manage enrollment. A virtual classroom is where you have individual lessons and teach the curriculum.
The platforms that power these software solutions usually do one or the other, but sometimes offer both an LMS and a virtual classroom.
The difference between virtual classrooms vs. web conferencing is that virtual classrooms are designed for teaching classes online and web conferencing is for online meetings. Virtual classrooms use web conferencing technology to translate the learning experience into a virtual environment.
Virtual classrooms use some of the same features as regular web conferencing software, whilst emphasizing others, such as:
The difference between virtual classroom software and virtual learning software is that virtual classroom software involves a teacher but virtual learning might not. Virtual classroom software uses video conferencing technology to connect teachers and students for lessons.
Virtual learning software is like an interactive digital textbook. It presents students with learning materials and activities but often no way to directly interact with a teacher.
Virtual classroom software like Livestorm offers a ton of communication features for teachers to engage students such as video conferencing, chat features, and digital whiteboards.