Classes have been suspended all over Luzon due to the COVID-19 outbreak just a few weeks before the school year ends. With the suspension happening on such a critical time in the academic calendar, this leaves our students and our lessons hanging. In this situation, remote learning and delivery of lessons online are highly encouraged by the Department of Education in lieu of the regular school days. This is a perfect opportunity for teachers to put their e-learning skills to good use by utilizing virtual classrooms for distance learning.
Aside from using e-learning platforms such as Quipper which can be used in sending out lessons and activities for students to work on, teachers may also make use of online video conferencing platforms that provide distance learning solutions amidst this crisis. Here are three other platforms that you can explore and use to conduct online classes from the comfort of your own homes.
Founded in 2011, Zoom is a cloud-based video communications platform designed to cater to several kinds of online interactions such as hosting webinars, audio and/or video conferences, and online meetings, to name a few. In terms of the academic setting, Zoom can also be used for delivering online classes by utilizing it as a virtual classroom; perfect for distance learning and when face-to-face instruction cannot be done.
To use Zoom, teachers may sign up for a basic account for free. With a basic account, teachers would have access to the following features:
- Host up to 100 participants
- Unlimited one-on-one meetings
- 40 minutes limit on group meetings with 3 or more participants
- Online support
Recently, Zoom lifted the 40-minute limit for educators as proactive measures to help schools in some countries affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Should you wish to have this perk as well for your school, all you need is a school email to use for signing up for Zoom to verify.
For teachers who do not have an official school email, the 40-minute limit can still be maximized with Quipper. Simply send out an assignment to a class using either Quipper’s ready-made content or their own course from Q-Create and treat this as a pre- and/or post-lesson activities for the remaining 20 minutes of the class hour.
To begin a video conference with students using Zoom, here’s a quick video tutorial:
For more How-To Videos on Zoom, click here.
Another online platform that teachers can use to conduct virtual classrooms is Google Hangouts. Similar to Zoom, Google Hangouts also offers video conferencing features such as video calls, screen sharing, and online chatting for free. This is also more accessible as teachers and students would only need their own Google accounts to use this platform.
Here’s how to start a video conference with students on Google Hangouts:
- Go to hangouts.google.com. Make sure that you are signed in to your Google account.
- Click “Video Call.”
- When asked to use your computer’s camera and microphone, click Allow.
- Once you’re on, begin adding people by typing in their email addresses and send the invite, or share the hangouts link through chat or email to your target audience so they can join.
Once you’ve begun your video conference, you may explore other options such as the chat feature, turning your camera on for video call, or share your screen for when you want to present something from your device to your students.
Skype, on the other hand, is something more common for us. Initially released in 2003, Skype pioneered video-teleconferencing. This Microsoft-owned application was adopted by educators to be used in online learning.
Here’s a step-by-step guide in using Skype:
- Make sure to download and install Skype whether on your computer or mobile device.
- Sign in to your Skype account, or click here if you want to create one.
- Once you’ve signed in, click on the “New Chat” button and select “New Group Chat” on the drop-down menu.
- Create a Group Name, and then select the people that you want to join your group from your contact list.
- Click “Done,” and you’ll now see your group’s chatbox.
- Click the “Video” icon on the upper right part of the screen, then click “Ring the group” to begin the video call.
Similar to Google Hangouts, you may also use Skype’s screen sharing and chat feature during your video conference when needed for your virtual classroom.
At times like this when class suspensions are mandatory, online learning is the best alternative for educators to still deliver their lessons and facilitate student learning. These are just a few of the many platforms available out there that can be utilized for online learning, proof that technology is indeed a powerful tool in innovating education; all it needs is for teachers to fully maximize its capabilities.
We hope you find these platforms helpful as you conduct your online classes amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. Stay safe and healthy, everyone!