Choosing the best virtual classroom software for your company, school, or organization is a big deal. Of course the solution needs to work as advertised and the price needs to be right, but there are also other less tangible goals like “What solution is going to enable me to teach my learners most effectively?” or “What platform is the easiest to use?” or even “Which virtual classroom software is going to be the most fun for teaching and learning?” The good news is that it’s a choice and today, like with so many other markets, the virtual classroom software market is a buyer’s market. There are a lot of different options even with virtual classroom software for online teaching so in this post we’ll try to narrow down your initial list.
What Is Virtual Classroom Software?
Before we get into how to choose the best virtual classroom software for your organization, it’s important for us to clear the air around what virtual classroom software is. I mean, what’s the difference between a video conferencing app like Zoom or WebEx and actual virtual classroom software as we discuss below?
Well, you can find a really great breakdown on the eLearning Industry article Virtual Classrooms vs. Web Conferencing. It comes down to purpose. Why do these solutions exist? In web conferencing apps, you can connect from anywhere with your webcam and share your screen. Is that a classroom? Is that the best way to engage your learners? Probably not. Web conferencing apps enable some basic things, but they do not offer the flexibility nor direction of purpose-built tools for online instruction like the best virtual classroom software.
When discussing the difference between video conferencing apps or virtual classroom software, I like to talk about cars. There are many different cars that are great for many different things. If I live in a city, then a subcompact car is perfect for running errands and fitting in parking spots, but if I’m commuting 2 hours each way, then I’d probably opt for a sedan. The point is you want to make sure you are investing in a solution that meets your specific needs.
How To Choose The Best Virtual Classroom Software?
So how do you choose the best virtual classroom software?
Well, you’ll need to understand what is important to you, your facilitators or teachers, and your learners and students. The best way to do this is to first brainstorm with key stakeholders on what you really need to deliver an amazing learning experience. I suggest creating a list of features that you absolutely “must have” along with a list of features that are “nice to have”. You can then start comparing some of the virtual classroom software options you come across to see where they land.
Once you narrow down your list, you can reach out to each company and try out their virtual classroom software for free. It’s incredibly important to testrun your preferred virtual classroom software before making a decision.
To help you on your journey, we have compiled a list of the 7 best virtual classroom software solutions in 2019. The list isn’t scientific, but we took into account ease of use, pricing and features.
The Best Virtual Classroom Software For Online Teaching
Vedamo is a virtual classroom platform and learning management system that is built for online tutoring. The virtual classroom is browser-based and does not require any download to join. You can even play around with a demo virtual classroom without creating an account. Collaborative tools include an online whiteboard, breakout rooms, screen sharing, and media sharing. Vedamo also integrated into Canvas, Google for Education, Moodle, and Schoology LMSs.
Well, what do you know? Newrow Smart is on the best virtual classroom software for online teaching list published on the Newrow blog. Seriously though, our position on this list is not without merit. As the great LeVar Burton liked to say, you don’t have to take our word for it. Try Newrow for Free and continue using it for free as you like.
Newrow is purpose-built for teaching online – virtual classroom software at its core! You can create online courses and engage your participants in virtual classes and webinars all through a completely branded portal. Virtual classes are 100% web-based – no Flash, no downloads, no installations – with collaborative tools like a digital whiteboard, content management system to share presentations and videos, screen sharing, cloud recording, breakout rooms, real-time notes, live quizzes and more. Newrow supports LTI specifications and easily integrates into all major LMSs Totally, worth a look.
It’s hard to beat free. BigBlueButton was one of the first entries into the virtual classroom software market. The project started in 2007 and became available as an open source project in 2009! BigBlueButton is built for online teaching with features such as the ability to share files and your desktop, interactive whiteboard, and up to 15 webcams that can broadcast at one time. BigBlueButton also integrates into most major learning management systems.
LearnCube was also purpose-built for teaching and tutoring online. Like other virtual classroom platforms on this list, LearnCube is browser based enabling you to deliver virtual classes without having to download 3rd party software or rely on Flash. Features include an interactive whiteboard, custom branding, content management system, text chat and class recording. They also mention transcription services as a coming soon feature.
Electa Live provides virtual classroom software and a learning management system for online courses. The virtual classroom is supported cross-platform. Electa Live virtual classroom features include: file sharing, interactive whiteboards, annotation tools, screen sharing, session recording, online polls & surveys, and breakout rooms. The LMS component makes it convenient for scheduling live classes.
If you have been in the virtual classroom software space for a few years, then you have undoubtedly come across Adobe Connect. Adobe Connect was the standard bearer for virtual classroom software seeing a lot of early traction in the higher education vertical. Today’s web based version still requires Flash, but there is a client download version to bypass Flash requirements. Features include a content management system, quick polls, an interactive whiteboard, cloud recording, and different modules and layouts for a highly customizable classroom.
WizIQ virtual classroom provides a browser based virtual classroom with both a Flash and WebRTC option. Neither require you to download additional software to join a session. The virtual classroom features cloud recording, interactive whiteboard, moderation capabilities, screen sharing, polls & surveys, and a collaborative code editor which is interesting for STEM courses. The portal can be branded as well.
The Best Virtual Classroom Software For You
When you have a clear idea on what you need and what you want, then it makes it easier for you to explore these platforms as well as others with a consistent perspective. We have to remember that the best virtual classroom software for online teaching is going to provide you not only a consistent, reliable experience 24/7/365, but it’s going to delight your facilitators and learners. Learning is supposed to be engaging and fun, collaborative and interactive. Choosing the right virtual classroom software for your organization is going to enable your organization to transfer knowledge to your learners more effectively and create more successful outcomes.