Remote Instruction: Choosing Web Conferencing Software

Web conferencing software allows teachers to host virtual classes and have students join those classes over the internet. This is particularly useful when instruction needs to take place without the use of a physical classroom. It's important to note that your school or district may have web conferencing tools that are already being used. Likewise, there may be restrictions on the use of such software. It is always best to consult with your IT department before choosing a tool.


Choosing the Right Tool

Choosing the right software can be difficult with so many options out there.  If you are still unsure of which tool to use after consulting your IT team, here are some features for you to consider:

  • High-Quality Audio & Video - The quality of the overall experience depends heavily on the quality of the camera and microphone you are using. Beyond that, the software itself may have features that enhance the quality of your experience such as noise cancellation, auto-mute for non-speaking participants, and settings for users with low bandwidth.

  • Screen Sharing - Screen sharing allows teachers and students to display their screen with the whole class. This is a great way for teachers to check their student’s work as well as to promote peer to peer learning.

  • Meeting Recording - Recording both the audio and video from a class is crucial for asynchronous learning. Teachers can provide a video of the lesson to students who were absent, or as a reference when completing homework assignments. Teachers can also record a lesson and provide the video link to students for a flipped classroom model.

  • Chat - The ability to chat with students during the live class is a must-have. This allows students to ask questions to the teacher without interrupting instruction, and allows teachers to provide supplementary information throughout the class. Similar features like Raise Hand allow students to silently indicate they have questions.

  • Easy-to-Use Interface - Ease of use is essential for online classes to run without a hitch. A lot of time can be wasted showing students how to use a tool.  Not only that, but for teachers, setting up meetings and managing them must be a simple process as well.

  • Multi-Device Support - Students may have a wide range of devices that they use. The software will need to be optimized not only for desktop computers, but for laptops, mobile phones, and tablets.


Popular Options

While TechSmart does not endorse any one web conferencing tool, here is a list of some of the more popular choices employed by school districts:

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