Finding the right virtual tool for your next online class!

The COVID-19 has changed our lives drastically. The world is slowly becoming virtual — especially, the education sector is going through a massive transformation in terms of providing online learning experience without compromising on the quality.

At EduRise, we try our best to support the educators by helping them gain the most valuable virtual skills and provide them awareness about the various resources that are available on the internet.

In this article, we will be covering some of the most common virtual meeting tools that you can use as a host to transform your classes online! All the tools are tested out by our expert panel, we are happy to provide your the first-hand experience directly from them.

#1 Google Meet

Service Provider: Google Inc.

Free version available: Yes (For all the Gmail users)

Max. number of participants in the free version: 100

Recording option available: Yes

Mobile app available: Yes

Our top recommendation of the list is, Google Meet — a very recent product update from Google, replacing the traditional Hangouts call.

One of the biggest advantages of the tools is the option to integrate it with the other Google tools like, Google Calendar, Google Drive, etc. Those who already use GSuite can go for this without any doubt.

From the Educator’s point of view — there is one area of improvement. Once you start the screen sharing, you will not be able to see the comment box or the video streaming of the other attendees. So, in case if you are planning an interactive lesson with questions, polls, etc. you have to go back to the hangout call screen which is a lot of efforts.

#2 Webex

Service Provider: CISCO Inc.

Free version available: Yes (Anyone can register and avail a free version)

Max. number of participants in the free version: 100

Recording option available: Yes

Mobile app available: Yes

CISCO is one of the pioneers in offering virtual solutions (since 1995). CISCO WebEx is one of the most professional platforms you can consider to host your virtual classes. It is one of the recommended platforms, if you consider doing an interactive session — you can view the comments while doing screen sharing, do a poll with the help of the tool, allocate the roles of host and presenter to different people.

It is quite easy to use for the professionals or educators, whereas the students need some practise to be familiar with the user interface. Watching tutorials is recommended before using the platform for beginners.

#3 Zoom Video Communications

Service Provider: Zoom Video Communications

Free version available: Yes (Anyone can register and avail a free version)

Max. number of participants in the free version: 100

Recording option available: Yes

Mobile app available: Yes

Zoom is a virtual tool that’s most discussed during the COVID-19 times. With an intuitive and extremely easy-to-use user interface, this is the most preferred platform by educators and students around the globe.

Though security and the zoom bombing are considered to be the major issues the platform faced over the past 2 months — they are proactively introducing new security protocols. It is important that the host educate themselves and being absolutely sure of the controls related to screen sharing, annotations, etc. to avoid such unpleasant experiences.

If you’re using the free version, you can only host calls up to 40 minutes.

#4 GoToMeeting

Service Provider: LogMeIn Inc.

Free version available: A 14 day trial version available for all the new users

Max. number of participants in the free version: 250

Recording option available: Yes

Mobile app available: Yes

As an educator, there are so many reasons to love GoToMeeting — the platform has one of it’s kind user interface for the presenters, you can see how the view of how the screen appears to the audience, the comment box and the Q&A section are readily available. The recording of the session is brilliant, the tool automatically identifies the users who have their video on and includes it as part of the recording.

This is again the only tool that can include 250 participants in the same call, while using a free version. Getting to see the timestamp of the entry and exit of all the participants is an added advantage from the point of view of the host.

#5 Skype

Service Provider: Microsoft Corporation

Free version available: Yes

Max. number of participants in the free version: 50

Recording option available: Yes

Mobile app available: Yes

There was once a time, when video calling means only through ‘Skype’. The tool has gradually improved on the recent times, one of the biggest advantages is that it does not have any time limits.

Being a Microsoft tool, it has pretty good integrations with the other Microsoft Suite products. The functionalities are very similar to the Google Meet, the students would require support in joining the calls, educating them with tutorials are important before you get them on board with this tool.

#6 ZohoMeetings

Service Provider: Zoho Inc.

Free version available: Yes

Max. number of participants in the free version: 10

Recording option available: Yes

Mobile app available: Yes

ZohoMeeting is the only virtual tool available on this list, created by an Indian company. The user interface is good, but very similar to the applications such as Google Meet — the presenter who is sharing the screen will not be to see the comment box, which in a way is difficult while doing interactive sessions.

On a free version, you will be able to host only 10 participants — that’s something you have to keep in mind. The quality of the video recording is good.

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Thank you for reading! Please share the article with other educators if you find it helpful, and generously clap for the article (you can provide up to 50 claps, just saying!).

Please reach out to the author <aravindhan.a.in@ieee.org> if you have any questions/suggestions.

Keep learning. Keep teaching!

With ❤ EduRise

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