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Top 3 Video Conferencing Solutions for Education

Rachel Maltese
Updated May 6 2021
What is Blended Learning
Rachel Maltese
Updated May 6 2021

Video delivered over the internet has been accelerating in popularity in recent years for a range of applications – from business to education to leisure. The COVID-19 pandemic has only amplified this. But even as the world works to get back to normal, video conferencing is here to stay. Why? Because video conferencing is a huge part of the new normal and has fantastic benefits for all sorts of people and institutions.

 

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The Rise of Video Conferencing in Education

Video conferencing began being used in education as soon as the technology was available. Here are just some examples of the way video conferencing is solving problems and meeting needs in education:

  • Parent / Teacher Meetings

Parent / Teacher meetings are an important part of helping to direct a child’s education. But making time for them can be difficult. Parents often struggle with juggling their work schedule, and teachers are sometimes faced with having to work long evenings after a full day of teaching. But video conferencing can make these meetings easier and more convenient for everyone, increasing the rate of parent participation and involvement in primary and secondary education.

  • Office Hours

For students in college and university, office hours are often a key part of the experience. Students visit instructors’ offices to get help with difficult material, discuss grading and expectations, and seek advice about their academic careers. Using video conferencing can be more convenient for both professors and students. It also has the benefit of being less intimidating for students new to campus and will encourage more participation from students who aren’t on campus every day.

  • Guest Lecturers

Teachers often want to expose their students to experts in their field. But the costs and logistics of bringing a guest lecturer to campus or classroom can be challenging. Video conferencing makes it easier to bring these sorts of resources to students, at a lower logistical and financial cost than traditional in-person appearances. Being able to consider guest lecturers regardless of location can help to diversify the people and content your students are exposed to.

  • Tutoring

Sometimes, a student may need extra help. But finding time for tutoring can be challenging. And, in some cases, students may feel embarrassed or uncertain about going to a campus tutoring center. But video conferencing in education can give students access to tutoring in ways that are convenient to them and supportive of their needs, leading to better outcomes.

  • Virtual Classrooms

Video conferencing in education isn’t just for one-to-one communication. Video conferencing can be a part of the virtual classroom experience, allowing teachers, and students, to attend class from wherever they happen to be in the world. With additional classroom solutions like LMS integration and interactive features, video conferencing can form a central part of a virtual classroom experience.

  • Hybrid and Hyflex Teaching

Video conferencing in education can support a range of virtual classroom environments, including ones that are all virtual, but also ones where some students attend in-person and some attend remotely. Video conferencing in education is part of a solution that makes both Hybrid classes and Hyflex classes possible. What’s the difference? Hybrid classes refer to classes where some students regularly attend in person and some regularly attend virtually. Hyflex refers to courses where students can choose on a class-by-class basis whether to attend in person or remotely.

  • Collaboration

Video conferring in education is also great for collaborative activities, whether the class itself is happening in person or virtually. Students can use video conferencing to work on group projects, hold study sessions, and offer peer-to-peer support. With the interactive features available in some video conferencing for education solutions – like virtual whiteboards and shared note-taking – students may find that virtual collaboration is even better than in-person collaboration.

  • Bringing Campuses Together

With many universities having multiple campuses, video conferencing is a great way to bring those campuses together. Video conferencing in education enables students to easily attend classes and make friends on more than one campus. Large university systems may also use video conferencing to bridge divisions between campuses and bring the whole community together.

  • Student Recruitment

Student recruitment is a fantastic way to make use of video conferencing in education. It can bring potential students to campus virtually and also be used to connect them with faculty, admissions officers, alumni, and student representatives. Showcasing how your institution uses technology at every level may also help turn those potential students into enrolled students.

  • College Interviews

For students in the application process, video conferencing in education is a great way to hold interviews. This reduces the costs for students of coming to campus to interview and also allows them to engage in this high-pressure moment from an environment that’s comfortable for them.

 

Free vs. Paid Video Conferencing Software for Education

Video conferencing products for education run the gamut from totally free to having costs based on the nature and volume of use. Free solutions may have limitations on how long they can be used for in a single session and how many simultaneous participants they allow. They also usually have limited bells and whistles; if you’re looking for basic video conferencing with a supporting text-based chat window, these solutions may be exactly right for you. But while free solutions are right for some situations, they aren’t a perfect fit for every educational application.

 

Who Needs Free vs. Paid Video Conferencing Solutions for Education

So, who needs which type of video conferencing solution for education?

Free video conferencing solutions are usually best for smaller groups and infrequent users. These are usually individual instructors or students who don’t need a lot of bells and whistles and aren’t supporting an institution’s educational infrastructure with video conferencing. But once video conferencing for education is moving towards being a fundamental part of how your school or university carries out its mission, paid video conferencing solutions become necessary.

Paid video conferencing solutions for education allow you to remove limits on the number of users, frequency of use, or duration of sessions. Paid solutions also give you access to features that can help support your educational mission, including persistent rooms with collaboration tools like virtual whiteboards and shared notetaking. Enhanced interactivity options, such as quizzing, can also help enrich your video conferencing experience. You can even add white-label branding to make sure your video conferencing for education solutions is truly a part of your institution and analytics to help you monitor connection quality and engagement.

 

The Top 3 Video Conferencing Platforms for Education

1. Kaltura

Kaltura offers paid video conferencing solutions that are specifically designed for education. Its Virtual Classroom solution allows students and teachers to connect in a shared, persistent environment where video conferencing is only the start. Sharing screens, presentations, and videos is simple. Educational collaboration is facilitated by breakout rooms, persistent whiteboards, share notetaking, and more. Instructors can lead the entire class or temporarily turn over the video conference to presenting students. Features like quizzing and polling can help keep students engaged, and analytics can help you understand how students are interacting with materials. Kaltura’s video conferencing for education isn’t just for the classroom setting, however. They can also be successfully used in recruitment, the admissions process, and one-on-one communication between students and/or faculty.

2. Microsoft Teams

Microsoft offers a video conferencing tool called Teams. It has a free version which allows up to 100 people in a single virtual meeting. However, those meetings can only last an hour. While these meetings offer some important basic tools of video conferencing for education – like screensharing and text-based chat – there are also some clear limitations. For example, the free version of Microsoft Teams does not allow for recording meetings and customer support is only included with paid versions. Security features like customizable user settings and policies are also unavailable with the free version, as are analytics. Most importantly, however, is that Microsoft Teams is not purpose-built to the specific needs of education.

3. Google Meet

Google Meet was originally known as Google Hangouts. It can support video conferencing meetings of up to 100 participants with the click of a link for free. But, there’s a time limit on these meetings – they can’t exceed one hour. Google Meet has some free security and anti-abuse features that can keep your meetings secure and running smoothly. Google Meet offers paid options as well. These expand the number of people who can participate in video conferencing and for how long. These also add features beyond basic video conferencing, but the technology remains not specifically designed for education.

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