2020 made schools and universities scramble to find a solution for remote learning. The Zoom virtual classroom became the most popular choice for most educational institutions. Is it the best option for your school? What about businesses that need a virtual classroom for training sessions? Let’s consider the best virtual classroom software.
Is Zoom Virtual Classroom the Best for Education?
Zoom has several features that make it great for remote learning. Nevertheless, there are other services that can compete with Zoom and hold their own. The important thing is that you look for the features you need for a successful virtual classroom experience.
There are four crucial components to any virtual classroom. First, you need to be able to manage your participants. Then you’ll need to have plenty of engaging options for them to use, including participation tools. Screen sharing is a must for both teachers and students to share their work. Whiteboards and annotations allow that old classroom vibe to spread through your virtual space.
Every teacher can tell you that students sometimes become disruptive. You need to be able to quickly mute students or even remove them from the room if they become problematic. Zoom makes this simple since you can put a student back in the waiting room or into a separate breakout room if they are causing trouble.
Other virtual classrooms like Teams have similar features. Some platforms like Meet lack the extra virtual spaces that you can use to separate troublemakers. Test drive your platform before you switch your whole school over.
Virtual classrooms would be boring without the ability to participate. Participation is key for learning, so you need a robust set of features to allow students to participate. Zoom has added many reactions to its software, letting students express responses and even give their instructor useful feedback, like telling them to slow down.
Being able to raise your virtual hand is also useful for orderly participation. If the platform you’re looking into doesn’t have these features, you’d better skip it.
This is an absolute must, and here we have to admit that nobody does screen sharing better than Zoom, with one notable exception. Zoom’s Achilles heel is its video sharing. If you optimize for video sharing, your video quality drops significantly, but the framerate can keep up with the video. The only platform that does it better is Google, as they can stream YouTube videos directly to your viewers.
Besides that one case, Zoom is king. You can choose to share your whole screen or just a portion. You can even share another camera or nothing but your PC audio.
Whiteboards and Annotation
This is a useful feature, but one that you can work around with other programs. A good virtual whiteboard will let participants write on it when given permission. Zoom does this, but its controls can be a bit clunky. Many teachers prefer to simply share a Google doc or use Microsoft OneNote for whiteboard functionality.
Overall, Zoom is a great virtual classroom tool, and we would recommend it over any other alternative we’ve come across so far.