Education

Best Virtual Classroom Software Solutions for Educators

Published on December 6, 2022 • Updated on December 7, 2022 • About 10 min. read

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woman studying for virtual classroom

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.

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Table of contents

  • What is virtual classroom software?
  • What are the must-have features of virtual classroom software?
  • The 7 Best virtual classroom software solutions for 2023
  • How to choose the best virtual classroom software
  • Frequently asked questions about virtual classroom software

What is virtual classroom software?

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:

  • Interact with each other in real-time
  • Share documents
  • Present teaching materials
  • Collaborate online

You can also use virtual classroom software for hybrid learning, where some students are in the physical classroom and others connect virtually.

What are the must-have features of virtual classroom software?

The best virtual classroom software combines all the features of a traditional classroom with the benefits of virtual learning technology. Must-have features include:

  1. Video conferencing
  2. Strong privacy settings
  3. Interactive whiteboard
  4. Live polling and Q&A
  5. Breakout rooms
  6. Screen sharing
  7. Handouts
  8. Class recordings
  9. Detailed Analytics
  10. Custom registration pages

1. Video conferencing

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.

2. Strong privacy settings

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.

3. Interactive whiteboard

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.

4. Live polling and Q&A

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.

Livestorm interactive polls surveying virtual students about future lesson content

5. Breakout rooms

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.

6. Screen sharing

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.

7. Handouts

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.

8. Class recordings

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.

9. Detailed analytics

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.

Livestorm analytics dashboard showing online course data

10. Custom registration pages

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.

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The 7 Best virtual classroom software solutions for 2023

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.

1. Livestorm: Best video conferencing tool for engaging students

Livestorm presentation tool in an online class

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:

  • Live messaging functionality with emoji reactions
  • Questions & Answers tab
  • Question upvote button
  • Live polls
  • Virtual hand raising
  • Miro digital whiteboard integration
  • Handouts for simple resource sharing
  • Multimedia screen sharing
  • Custom backgrounds
  • Email cadences to send class reminders
  • Timer functionality with background music

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:

  • The WebRTC protocol
  • Transport Layer Security (TLS)
  • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)
  • Strong encryption protocol

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."

2. LearnCube: Best Learning Management System (LMS) for schools

Annotations on LearnCube’s interactive whiteboard.

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:

  • Set up role permissions and manage staff, students, teachers, and admins.
  • Centrally manage cloud-based teaching content.
  • Take payments through a payment gateway.

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.”

3. WizIQ: Best for tutoring online classes

WizIQ’s virtual classroom software with chat and presentation functionality

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:

  • Course builders
  • Test and assessment builders
  • Customized mobile applications

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.”

4. Adobe Connect: Best for online training

Adobe Connect screen sharing functionality in a virtual classroom.

Adobe Connect is a video conferencing platform that specializes in virtual training for businesses and education. Stand-out features include:

  • Customize the virtual classroom with your layout and tool preferences and save them as a room template to use later.
  • Create and share interactive simulations of concepts that students can interact with.
  • A ‘Prepare Mode’ that allows you to set up various layouts, content, and flow without affecting the class.

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.”

5. Blackboard Collaborate: Best for personalized online education

Blackboard Collaborate breakout groups function

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:

  • Create individualized learning paths for students.
  • Adapt learning experiences to their performance.
  • Provide automated remedial plans to students who struggle with one or more topics.

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.

6. Webex Meetings: Best for hi-tech remote learning

Webex Meetings automatic captions functionality in video conferencing

Webex Meetings is a virtual conference platform that has some great tech for virtual classrooms not found in other software solutions. These include:

  • Automatic transcriptions, notes, and captions
  • Voice enhancement, noise reduction, and virtual assistants powered by AI
  • Real-time translation of more than 100 languages

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.”

7. RingCentral Video: Best for budget eLearning

RingCentral Video real-time device switching functionality

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:

  • One-click switching between computer and phone.
  • An auto-follow feature that allows the camera to follow your movement while you’re presenting.
  • High-security features such as end-to-end video encryption.

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.”

How to choose the best virtual classroom software

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:

  • Define your typical student. Do they have trouble focusing? Look for a platform with a lot of online student engagement features. Do they struggle to follow online class rules? Find a solution that has strict roles and permissions.
  • Establish your classroom goals. For example, the features you’ll need for an exam preparation course will be very different from employee training sessions.
  • Prioritize your ‘must have’ features. Regardless of who you’re teaching there will be certain features you can’t live without. List your ‘must have’ features and make sure they’re included in the software solutions you’re looking at.
  • Do a free trial (or two). It’s always best to try before you buy. Many platforms offer free trials and Livestorm even has a free virtual classroom subscription tier.

The virtual classroom software cheat sheet

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:

  • Want a virtual classroom that does it all and is best for student engagement? Check out Livestorm.
  • Need an LMS for your school? LearnCube is the way to go.
  • Focused on tutoring students online? Sign up for WizIQ.
  • Do a lot of online training? Adobe Connect is your best bet.
  • Need highly personalized lesson plans? Blackboard Collaborate has you covered.
  • Want a hi-tech, AI-powered classroom? Go for Webex Meetings.
  • On a budget? RingCentral Video is a cheaper alternative.

Frequently asked questions about virtual classroom software

What do virtual classrooms do?

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:

  • Moderate learner participation with permissions
  • Present learning materials in documents, slide decks, or video/audio files
  • Screen-share and use a virtual whiteboard
  • Divide the class into breakout rooms
  • Engage students with polls and quizzes
  • Record the class and send it to the class later

What’s the difference between a virtual classroom and a learning management system (LMS)?

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.

What’s the difference between virtual classrooms vs. web conferencing?

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:

  • Digital whiteboards
  • Breakout rooms
  • File sharing
  • Screen-sharing
  • Engagement features like polls and Q&A tabs
  • Class recording

What is the difference between virtual classroom software and virtual learning software?

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.

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