TAO/Virtual classrooms

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Virtual classroom software extends the focus of web conferencing solutions described in the previous chapter by providing not only a meeting room but including features that facilitate teaching. In contrast to e-learning environments described in the next chapter virtual classrooms allow synchronous interaction and are able to bridge space between students and teachers. Such sessions or courses are sometimes called webinar.

The proceedings and software properties that were already presented also apply to the class of solutions described here. Additionally some of the features from the following list complete a classroom environment:

  • A blackboard-like component to allow working on a “greenfield“.
  • Ability to give presentations or use other media. Have a look at what file formats can be used and in what quality media will be transmitted and if it is possible to spontaneously interact with them, e.g. by highlightings or drawings.
  • How is interaction from the students' side enabled?
    • Audio, video, chat? Is it possible to moderate their channels?
    • Will they be able to use the “blackboard”, presentations or other media?
    • What else? For instance, votes may be of interest.
  • Recording and publishing of recordings of previous sessions.
    • Is there a way to edit the recordings?
    • Who shall be able to access the recordings and how?
    • Publishing may be done automatically, e.g. by providing podcasts or pushing it to a video service like YouTube. Publishing lessons is also referred to by the term webcast.

As the imaginable and available options become more and more it gets more important to specify your requirements or head for a more generic solution if the needed outline is unclear.