6 Feb 2023
Learning is traditionally associated with a classroom environment.
In the last decade or so the internet has transformed how we interact. Education is no different: learning no longer needs to take place in-person, which gives students and educators the freedom to study anytime, anywhere.
Distance learning is taking over education, replacing conventional methods of instruction with convenient, on-the-go access. Even so, not everyone is familiar with virtual education software, how to use it, or which apps to choose.
There’s plenty to learn here, from how to choose the right virtual learning software to how essential key features can improve your educational experience.
Read on to find out which virtual learning apps you can use for the benefit of students and instructors alike.
Searching for the right software for distance learning is more challenging than it sounds. There are so many options with varied designs, functionality, and price points that it’s impossible to pinpoint which is best.
Here’s a tip: don’t stress yourself out trying to figure out the best distance learning software. Before you start searching for one, define the functions and features you need from a distance learning app. Then, you can refine your search to find the perfect app to fit your needs.
If you’re having trouble getting started on filtering through the types of software available, here’s a list of 10 key features you should look for in an advanced distance learning system – and the apps that best boast these features:
Having video conferencing capabilities is a no brainer for any real-time distance learning software. Real-time online learning is known as synchronous learning, and learning happening at different times for the instructors and students is asynchronous.
American students scored higher than the national US average when receiving synchronous instruction from a live teacher. When it’s possible, offering a real-time component helps learners feel more engaged during class, keeping them focused on the lesson instead of drifting off to scroll through social media.
Webex is most commonly used for professional video conferencing but is becoming increasingly popular among educators as well. You can lock your personal meeting rooms with end-to-end encryption, offering a higher level of security than other video conferencing software, and use features like interactive whiteboards and hand raising to make your virtual classroom environment more interactive.
Often used in tandem with video conferencing, instant messaging (IM) lets students:
The speed of instant messaging chats allows learners to connect quickly or answer each other’s questions as they arise. Instructors can actively track chatting during synchronous instruction to respond to real-time questions, just like in a physical classroom environment.
Google Classroom integrates with Google Hangouts to enable instant messaging between students as well as on-demand video chatting. Consider trying a platform that’s integration-friendly with other chatting or messaging apps your students might use commonly.
Teaching online? Why not take advantage of the virtual learning environment system to try gamification?
In education, gamification refers to using gaming principles to achieve learning objectives. On skill-based assessments, participants who learned from gamification scored 14% higher. Examples of gamification can include:
Duolingo is a great example of gamified language learning. You earn points through interactive, instructive activities, levelling up to higher difficulty challenges each time you finish a round of learning. Facebook integration lets users invite friends to learn with them, providing a sense of collaboration and competition that keeps things fresh.
Find ways to incorporate game principles into your virtual learning system. The more responsive and engaging the environment you construct is, the more engaged your students will become.
Checking in with students on their progress is an essential part of education. Scheduling tests and assessments to review what they’ve learned will help reinforce your teachings in their minds.
A virtual education software that offers automatic grading on quizzes is a must-have, especially for subjects where multiple-choice questions can be used to test learning. Your students complete assessments by a certain deadline and your system delivers feedback on how they did, which subjects they’re familiar with and which they aren’t.
Chegg Prep enables students to study through self-implemented practice quizzes. You can use a premade set of flashcards or make your own. Testing your knowledge helps reinforce what you’ve learned, helping students become more proficient at recalling knowledge in actual exam situations.
No matter how good a virtual learning environment software is, you want the flexibility to adjust built-in settings. Good customization options are essential for tweaking a system the way you want it to be.
You should be able to customize:
Skiplino is a great software solution designed to provide virtual location capability that lets students and teachers connect face-to-face. Its greatest strength, however, is how well you can customize Skiplino to suit your needs. You can utilize Skiplino’s features for different aspects of virtual learning, including:
During the term, your students may have feedback based on how the course is going. Being able to adjust your syllabus according to useful feedback with a tool like Skiplino will improve the overall learning experience.
One of the greatest advantages of distance learning is versatility. Finding a virtual learning software compatible across different browsers, platforms, and devices is how you can make sure learners will access you when they can, no matter if they’re on-the-go, at home, or anywhere in between.
Once again, Skiplino comes to mind when it comes to great cross-platform integration. Since it’s designed for businesses with diverse customer service needs, it also offers plenty of device platforms for students. Whether they’re using their phone, laptop, accessing your learning resources via website or app, they’ll find what they’re looking for without any issue.
Consider who you’re serving and how they’ll want to access your resources. For example, if your students skew younger, you should be looking into working well with mobile devices perhaps through an optimized app that works across different types of phones. There’s no single answer to the compatibility issue: you just need to remain adaptable and aware of differing levels of access your students may have.
You may not think of software for distance learning to be as high-risk for cybersecurity threats, but any online accounts with personal information can be hacked. The platform you use should ideally be:
Webex is designed for businesses and is notable for its end-to-end encryption. Being able to lock conference rooms while calling prevents unwanted visitors from accessing your classroom.
Cloud-based software prevents people from making unauthorized copies of your files and usually comes with encryption.
Design may not seem like the most essential component of a virtual learning system, but it’s one of the foundations of a quality student experience with online education.
Think about it like this. Outdated, difficult-to-navigate software wastes your time just when you’re trying to pinpoint the exact location of essential files. Your learners won’t be encouraged to spend more time exploring the material when your software interface is not user-friendly.
Google has always been known for its simplistic, user-friendly design, and its education platform is no different. You can communicate with your students, assign homework, grade tests, and more through their platform with a few clicks.
When considering different options for distance learning, you should try the platform out for yourself. See whether pages flow into each other if there’s space for customized navigation. Can you find support for on-site technical issues within minutes, or will it take you hours?
Are you an independent instructor offering for-profit courses online? If you need your students to pay before taking your classes, you should be considering how well your virtual learning environment software integrates payment processing.
Udemy claims to host the “world’s largest selection of courses”. It offers educators a great platform to host pre-recorded courses in a marketplace, letting them control the pricing and offering a great experience for both students and teachers.
Knowing you can be compensated for your educational materials gives any instructor peace of mind. Making sure your software’s payment processor is compatible with what you need for your business is how you can find that peace of mind.
When you’re teaching online, giving your students direct access to your time can make them feel more supported with what you’re teaching.
Whether this is in the form of office hours or appointments, integrating a scheduling software lets you meet students at your own leisure and sets a time for them to go over areas of confusion and resolve issues.
Skiplino is perfect for booking and scheduling. Designed as a queue management system, it offers students a great way to book video-friendly meetings with their instructors through an intuitive platform.
Let’s see how these ten features break down compared to traditional instruction methods, and which is better in which category.
|Tests and Assessments||✓|
As you can see, each has its benefits. While physical learning is more engaging on a face-to-face level, virtual learning offers more options for customization and creativity.
Your virtual learning software doesn’t need all the above features to improve your online education quality. With competent management of a few essential features, you’ll be able to bring your students five benefits:
Compare in the chart below how distance learning is better than traditional classroom education:
|Traditional Education||Distance Learning|
|Accessibility||Expensive, location-specific||Cheap, anywhere and anytime|
|Safety||High contact (high possibility for infection)||No contact (no possibility for infection)|
|Efficiency||Rigid, structured||Flexible, adaptable|
|Profitability||Complex payment system works for big institutions, not for independent instructors||Simple online payment processing works for everyone|
|Reporting||Unreliable performance reviews||Smart online metrics offer personalized recommendations|
Software for distance learning can offer great benefits when used correctly.
Short answer: Anywhere from $0 to $25,000. A more average price range is in the thousands.
Long answer: It depends. How much functionality are you seeking? Are you scaling across locations, adding users, expanding at a consistent rate? Pricing is only one factor to consider when it comes to distance learning. In fact, great software with a hefty price tag can end up earning its keep by improving education quality.
Virtual education software is going to charge you in one of three ways:
Each of these differs in benefits and drawbacks. For example, while a per-user fee may be great for smaller educators, at a large scale a license or subscription fee may make more sense. Do some research and you’ll find out what’s right for you. When in doubt, you can always schedule a call with us as well.
There are a few key steps to setting up a distance learning solution.
Just like that, you have a quick implementation guide for your distance learning. Next, let’s take a look at some case studies proving the efficacy of remote education when implemented correctly.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, King’s Leadership Academy in Warrington migrated their classroom to an online setting. They adopted the following practices:
The school has maintained great performance, such as:
Students and teachers were apprehensive of transitioning online at first, but have since warmed up to the technological possibilities they’ve uncovered through distance learning.
Sistema Fiep is a developer of industrial and educational solutions in Paraná. To confront the sudden reality of COVID-19, they took action quickly:
Learning continued as usual through remote avenues. The surveys found that:
After the large-scale adaptation of a virtual learning environment system, Sistema Fiep was able to develop a great learning system for all students.
Rocketship Public Schools is a network of 19 charter elementary schools. They began preparing for remote learning a week in advance of coronavirus lockdown, adapting in-use systems at school for a new way of education:
Students and parents experienced:
Each has its pros and cons. When done right, however, distance learning can be more accessible and easier to use than traditional methods of classroom learning.
In fact, remote learning can be an opportunity for schools to innovate and find new ways to educate their students.
Outlining a syllabus online and outlining a traditional syllabus is not so different. Teachers need to consider the structure, timeline, and resources in a course. While learning the online tools may seem more challenging, it’s a learning curve that pays dividends once you’ve mastered these new solutions.
Interested in trying out a virtual education solution that brings you closer to students? Skiplino’s got you covered. Start your 7-day free trial today.
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