The transition to digital education required several software systems to migrate the experience of regular classes to the internet.
There is software for attendance tracking, administrative tasks, and plenty more. However, more software developers aimed to deliver the most valuable service among the needed software packages. And that is the virtual classroom software.
What is a Virtual Classroom Software
At best, a virtual classroom software approximates an offline classroom. It offers several features that mimic and try to provide the experience of learning in face-to-face classes.
For most schools that transition to online classes, their first option is to use the popular video conferencing software and apps. It’s an obvious choice for most users. These apps are easily available and trusted by many. However, these software systems do not provide all the features that are needed for day-to-day classes.
Let’s look into the features that make virtual classroom software the ideal choice for schools.
Features of an Excellent Virtual Classroom Software
If you are currently searching for virtual classroom software, we have a list of essential features that you can use as a guide or a checklist, if you will.
Let’s start with sharing capabilities. Make sure that you invest in virtual classroom software that has sharing capabilities.
Since the boundary between the teacher and students, space-wise, is no longer visible. No one is in front of the other, and vice versa. Establishing authority and demanding attention is more challenging than it was during offline classes.
However, when the software allows the teacher or anyone granted the authority to share their screen, they can impose and demand the other attendees’ attention.
The share screen option also makes the entire teaching process more manageable. Topic points are easier to relay. It is also easier for the teachers to present videos and other learning aids.
On the other hand, excellent virtual classroom software should also be equipped with whiteboard alternatives. No, I’m not referring to the pen tool that lets the presenter write on top of the shared screen. I’m referring to a blank screen that will serve as the teacher’s whiteboard to write or scribble complex topics.
This feature offers especially great help to math teachers who want to involve their students in the teaching process, which is significantly similar to how in-person teaching looks.
Record Live Videos
Virtual classes can be either synchronous or asynchronous. Synchronous classes mean that everyone should attend a scheduled class. On the other hand, asynchronous means that the course is taken at the student’s pace. The teacher will assign or leave learning materials, and the responsibility of taking in the information falls on the students.
Often, teachers mix the feature of these classes to ensure that their students are learning the lessons effectively. One method to do this is to record their live classes and share the link with the class right after.
Thus, it is a necessity for virtual class software to be capable of recording live classes. Recording these classes will not, in any way, affect the flow of the class. The system is simply recording the session and producing a recorded file right after. It’s similar to screen recording.
With this feature, referencing to previews classes is more manageable. Aside from that, it also heightens the student’s retention of past lessons because they can go over the learning material as much as they need or want.
Easy to Integrate with School Calendar
An excellent virtual classroom software system must be capable of integrating with existing data pools, mainly school calendars and class schedules.
This feature will lessen the hassle of scheduling video meetings every day. Once the class schedule data is integrated with the system, the virtual classroom software can create a time block for specific classes.
In this manner, the teachers can schedule all their classes in one go. They don’t have to think or worry about scheduling for the following weeks.
Incorporating the school timetable also helps to schedule, especially regarding the cancellations of classes because of public holidays. Once the system detects that the school calendar provides that there won’t be classes for particular days, it won’t push through with scheduling classes for these days.
On top of everything, integrating these details activate the push notifications from the software. It provides prompt reminders about upcoming classes. This feature is helpful for both teachers and students.
Virtual Classrooms VS Video Conferencing Applications
At first glance, people won’t think that these two software applications have startling differences.
These differences don’t mean that one is better than the other. It simply means that both software are more fit for specific uses than the others.
Video Conferencing Apps
These apps have taken over corporate settings and the educational sector over the previous years. The popularity of remote work and distance learning made apps like Zoom and Google Meet rise in demand.
Both Zoom and Google Meet are initially formatted for corporate meetings and learning sessions. This means that most of its features aren’t meant to mirror or mimic classroom settings. At most, it tries to mimic the atmosphere of conference rooms.
More than that, security can be an issue for these apps. Albeit the easy method of scheduling, Zoom meetings are easily accessible through link sharing. Even if you are not part of the participants, you can still access the link. And at these moments, the waiting room feature is appreciated even more.
On the other hand, virtual classroom software systems are quite the opposite.
It is identifiable from the name itself that this software system is created to provide an ideal learning environment for the academe.
For this reason, classroom software systems are highly customisable. It takes into account the stark differences of effective teaching methods. The inclusion of interactive whiteboard alternatives is one of the many additional features in virtual classrooms, making it an ideal school choice.
Furthermore, the only users who can access these online classes are the enrolled students registered in the software by the school administration. Teachers don’t need to take extra measures in ensuring that all the participants are enrolled students.
As much as web conferencing apps update their systems to accommodate the growing need for online classrooms, these applications are still modelled for corporate set-ups.
Best Virtual Classroom Software
There are several virtual classroom software available in the market today. We have a list that will help finalise your decision in investing in one.
GoSchooler is an all-in-one comprehensive school management software that has a particular feature for live or online classes.
GoSchooler’s live classes feature allow teachers and students experience seamless online classes with features that make the process better. Under the live classes feature, the software allows teachers to schedule the classes in advance and in bulk.
Once the student wants to enter or rewatch a class session, a complete report containing future class schedules and finished lessons is generated. The user can easily navigate through the page and choose their desired class and lesson.
The software also provides even more benefits for the teachers as it also has a separate feature for lesson planning and online exams. Goschooler delivers from the preparation to evaluation. Efficiency at its finest.
Vedamo is an online virtual classroom that takes pride in being created by tutors for tutors.
Aside from being a virtual classroom software, Vedamo also provides a learning management system to manage class goals and schedules properly. As it is composed of a community of tutors and tutees, Vedamo conducts online classes anywhere. Location isn’t an issue.
As a tutor or teacher, this software provides you full control of managing and controlling the learning environment. Its goal is to approximate the ideal learning environment between you and your learners.
Like Vedamo, Kaltura is a stand-alone virtual classroom software that initially appealed to the online tutoring community. However, Kaltura can be integrated into any learning management system that often comes hand-in-hand with school management software systems.
This system is built for online learning. Tutors and teachers can create modules online and connect them directly to the Kaltura content management feature. It also has built-in collaborative features, such as a digital whiteboard. On top of that, the content management feature also allows easy sharing of presentations. Kaltura also supports breakout rooms, real-time note-taking.
What are the necessary virtual class tools?
The following are the needed online class tools: video and chat feed, screen-sharing and presentation sharing options, breakout rooms, interactive blackboard or whiteboard alternatives, and polls or quiz options.
What are the disadvantages of virtual classrooms?
Like all things, virtual classrooms come with disadvantages as well. One of the most apparent is the need for higher quality gadgets.
But with the rising popularity and necessity of remote learning, the prices of the needed gadgets are dropping. If not, there are partnerships and organizations that provide gadgets for the students.
Virtual classroom software is a necessity for schools that are pushing forward with remote learning long term. Simple third party web conferencing applications and software systems will suffice for the transition period, but virtual classrooms will eventually take over.
Virtual classrooms are more secure when it comes to filtering the participants. All the added features of this software are created to provide the best virtual learning experience.
There are several virtual classroom software out in the market today. I hope you choose the best software that will provide for all your live classes needs and school management needs as a whole.