In response to the global health crisis and social distancing protocols, school districts around the country have had to rethink their approach to education. Most have implemented at least some distance learning practices to enable their students to return to school without being physically present in the classroom.
For teachers, this has meant making the move to virtual classrooms. There are a number of tools available to help. Here are five of the best online teaching platforms that allow you to get back to teaching and engaging with your students.
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WizIQ is a cloud-based virtual classroom software platform with an easy-to-use interface that simplifies the virtual classroom experience. The platform allows teachers to host live classroom sessions with two-way communication, which means you get to engage directly with your students in real time — no matter where everyone is located.
WizIQ has some helpful features, such as a tool for digital hand raising, an interactive whiteboard, and analytics and reports on student performance. Teachers can store documents, recorded video and audio sessions, and other resources for students to easily access at any time if they miss class or need to review a lesson. This also helps you stay organized because the tools you need for class are in one location.
Pricing for WizIQ starts at $25 per month, and there are a few different plans to choose from. The company also offers a 14-day free trial.
LearnCube is a browser-based virtual classroom application that features file sharing, two-way audio and video communication capabilities, videoconferencing, real-time chat, session recording, and a host of other features designed with teachers’ and students’ needs in mind. It boasts an intuitive interface, so you can spend more time teaching and less time learning how to operate online classrooms.
This online teaching platform allows for group and private virtual classroom sessions, but those have a limit of eight students, so that function is better for small group activities or tutoring. The other interactive classroom options in the platform — such as hand raising, virtual ticks, file sharing, an interactive whiteboard, and text chat — make the platform appropriate for any class size.
The most basic plan is free. Other plans start at $14 per month. LearnCube offers a 14-day trial for any of its plans.
Vedamo is another browser-based online teaching platform that focuses on interactivity and collaboration between teachers and students. The key features of this application include unlimited virtual classroom sessions with 25 learners per session, an interactive whiteboard, livestreaming capabilities, and screen and file sharing.
One of its more unique features is the breakout rooms that allow teachers to assign group assignments to students as if they were in the same physical classroom. This adds an element of collaboration that makes students feel more connected to each other and their learning.
The virtual classroom plan by Vedamo is $25 per month with the option of a free 30-day trial.
4. Blackboard Collaborate
Blackboard Collaborate is a highly interactive, browser-based online teaching platform built to create learning experiences.
The platform also features an interactive whiteboard, live chat sessions, live polls and quizzes, screen sharing, and real-time annotations and text. You can record, monitor, and manage live classroom sessions, and create reports based on performance. Blackboard Collaborate allows you to connect with entire classes or individual students based on the needs of the classroom.
There is a 30-day free trial for Blackboard Collaborate. You must contact the company for pricing information.
5. Adobe Connect
Adobe Connect for virtual classrooms is an online teaching platform that runs in a web browser with Adobe Flash Player. The tool offers teachers the opportunity to host on-demand or live online classes from anywhere.
It features interactive whiteboards, real-time and private chats, interactive polls and voting, and two-way video and audio. Teachers and students can also share screens and livestream presentations to create the feeling of being in the classroom.
For students with disabilities, Adobe Connect features a Section 508-compliant virtual classroom solution that makes the virtual classrooms more accessible.
Plans start at $50 per month per user. A free trial is available.
Any of these online teaching platforms can meet your needs for virtual classrooms that encourage engagement with your students. However, they may not all meet your data-gathering needs. Assessments and feedback are also key pieces of the learning puzzle that teachers must gather while teaching students virtually.
Jotform is the perfect tool for creating forms to meet these needs. The Form Builder features
- Homework submission forms
- E-learning session feedback forms
- Student well-being surveys
- Online quizzes
- Class polls
- Student progress reports
- Course evaluation forms
Jotform’s suite of forms can assist teachers with sharing that information. They are a necessary tool for virtual classrooms because they help you stay connected to students when physical distance separates you. With the right combination of tools, you can still have a productive and successful school year that keeps your students energized about learning and engaged with lessons.