Can you hear me? Can you see me? These are the most frequently repeated phrases as meetings have gone online. When it comes to online classes, there is the inevitable “mute yourself” instead of the ‘stop talking’ that teachers used in their physical classrooms. The coronavirus pandemic has made schools go online in the biggest ever remote learning experiment. It has been an adapt and learn curve for students, teachers and school management. The pains of online learning, to some extent, can be tackled by integrating better learning management systems for schools.
Online learning is here to stay, even if educational institutions get the go-ahead to start physical classes this will not be 100%. EdTech solutions are scaling up to bring a more hassle-free online experience by integrating their management systems for schools, with video conferencing solutions.
Why it’s important to have a Learning Management System
The video conferencing apps like Zoom have made it easier for student and teachers to connect in a virtual space. However, it can get difficult for teachers to keep track of student’ performance across the different classes they teach. The biggest advantage of a Learning Management System for schools is that it has in-built features that can keep track of lessons, grades, submissions and engagement of students. Here are a few of the many benefits that an organised LMS provides
1. Provide efficiency in online learning:
Learning from home is a whole different experience from learning in a classroom. The biggest drawback is the distractions at home. In India, it is often difficult to get a quiet place without someone walking across the background and also the biggest bane of all online teaching is the parents sitting in on lessons.
Fortunately, a good LMS provides tools and features that can make the class more interactive. Teachers can upload PowerPoints as well as a virtual whiteboard, they can distribute supplementary learning material, post reminders, give out assignments as well as administer test. The LMS acts as a centralized repository of all learning material that other teachers can also utilize it.
2. Increase engagement:
In a virtual class, students can raise their hand and ask questions but how do they clear their doubts once the virtual class has timed out? For example, Zoom allows a free online class with chat features but once the class is over, the communication is over.
An LMS provides various tools for communication such as chat boxes or even social media integration such as WhatsApp. This encourages students to speak out during and even after class hours. Afterall having so many students in one virtual conference makes it difficult for all voices to be heard.
3. Monitor performance:
Virtual lectures means that there is no physical handing in of test answer sheets or assignments. It can be challenging to keep track of student performance and progress. The biggest benefit of an LMS is that it is a systematic way of monitoring student’s progress and also has analytical features for creating instant reports. It will also collate all student submissions and store it for easy retrieval. Since most Learning management systems for schools are on the cloud, storage is not expensive.
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The different video conferencing tools for education
There are a number of web-based video conferencing tools for education that schools and colleges are already using. Their free versions provide enough features for teachers to hold on-line classes. These apps allow for unlimited meetings with up to 100 participants and provide features such as HD audio and videos, screensharing as well as white boarding. Integrating these video-conferencing apps with a Learning Management System makes it more organized with monitoring, follow-ups and reporting functionality.
Here are a few Video-conferencing apps that are popular and have APIs that can be integrated with your LMS.
1. Zoom Integration
It has a feature rich free tier and extends the normal 40 minutes session time specifically for schools. Zoom has the widest adoption because of it’s ease of use. The fears of security have made it, more than any other app, heighten its data security. While it is a Chinese app, its origins are in California and so has escaped the ban.
Zoom for Education can be availed when schools sign-in with their school account and get the 40min time limit removed for the free version. For more than 300 participants and better administrative control, Zoom provides Education Plans at low cost. The paid features include usage report to track participation, Advanced admin controls such as notification and enabling/disabling features etc.
Integrating Zoom with LMS allows instructors to bypass setting up individual sessions in Zoom. In your LMS you can create the webinar session, add the participants and it automatically gets created in your Zoom account too. This reduces the admin work and students can get added en bloc for subsequent sessions. The real pain of not using an LMS is that data tracking is a headache and time-consuming. With integration, all attendance data from Zoom is passed back to the LMS – no manual work needed.
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This is a standalone video conferencing platform from the makers of LogMeIn. It is very mobile friendly and can have about 49 people on the screen with a total of 100 people for 40 minutes in the free version. Their paid tier at $20 per month allows for up to 1000 participants and bypasses the time limit. The data encryption technology ensures a rock-solid security. For virtual classes, the noise suppression technology is the biggest advantage.
GoToMeeting integration with LMS is quite straightforward. The aim of all integration is to provide the multiple benefits of removing duplicity of work by synchronizing data, making the LMS the portal for scheduling sessions and passing attendance back from the webinar tool for reporting purposes.
It’s free and open source, what can beat that? BigBlueButton is built for online teaching and integrates into learning management systems. Open source and supporting multiple users are the big benefits. Other features include the ability to share files, interactive whiteboards, screen sharing, video recording and more. BBB integration with your LMS requires a Collaborate plugin and BBB installed in your account.
There are numerous other video platform apps such as Microsoft Teams, WebEx, TeamViewer. Google Classrooms etc. India incepted and nurtured solutions that are highly effective, like the AI-led WeConference by CloudConnect Communications, are providing collaborative video conferencing tools for education.
If your institution is managing your webinar sessions manually, we know the heartaches that can result! Integrate your webinar tool with your LMS portal to see for yourself the time and effort that can be saved. Get further information by messaging us here. Or sending an Email to firstname.lastname@example.org