This article is an example of the methods you can teach students in real-time online. After many years of researching and teaching online classes I wrote this article to share this knowledge with you.
Methods of Teaching Live Online:
- Audio Conference: What are the tools for audio conferencing?
- Video Conference: best video conferencing?
- One on One Tutoring
- Web Conferences
- Virtual Classrooms
- Public Streaming: How can I live stream for free?
Now that you know the core methods of teaching online I will show you the free and paid solutions for each of these methods and also some tips from years of delivering online classes.
What are the tools for audio conferencing?
Audio conferences online take over the traditional telephone conference and there are both free and paid solutions that allow you to do this. While you might think everyone is using Video or Web Conferences there is still a huge community using online Audio Conferencing tools.
Gamers are the biggest group of people where they can play games at the same time as talking to their online teams. This shows that if you are using a shared application of any type like a google document for instance. You can both edit a document and talk to each other at the same time. It is a great tool to know about and have in your tool box when teaching.
Examples of free audio conferencing tools are:
TIP: These audio conferencing tools are great for when you are creating content and you can have your development team communicating on an open line all day at much lower bandwidth than video or web conferencing. brilliant for the modern national or global teams.
What is the best video conferencing?
When we are looking at Video Conferences for teaching they are very useful for Soft Skill training where there is a huge value for the teacher to see the body language of the students. There are three issues why these have not been widely adapted for training.
Firstly, the cost of a professional setup can be in the thousands. You can just use any old web camera and most video conferencing software will let you have up to nine people connected.
Secondly, people are self-conscious on a video chat and one of the first things you are trying to do in any classroom online or offline is to put people at ease.
And finally, not everyone has a webcam lying around or the internet bandwidth to support multiple streaming video connections.
Examples of Open Source Video Conferencing Tools:
There are plenty of paid solutions out there that do web conferencing with build-in video conferencing as well but we will talk about those within the Web Conferencing section.
INTERESTING NOTE: Some universities are now requiring online students to have webcams to record exams sessions they take online like the University of South Australia.
One On One Tutoring
Whether you use a remote desktop tool like Team Viewer there are now more ways then ever before to help a student remotely anywhere in the world. These tools are probably the most under utilized for teaching and should be more widely taught and adopted by teachers.
The ability to see exactly what the student sees on their desktop and take control if required can save you hours of emails and calls with remote students.
As well as remote desktop software don’t forget one to one video for teaching and supporting students with the wide array of video chat applications like Messenger, Whatsapp, Skype. This allows you to see the car they are pulling apart of the hole they made with a drill or any other offline exercise you are asking them to complete.
TIP: Team viewer is also now available on mobile phones and tablets so you can remote support students that may be having issues on those devices as well all from your phone or PC.
Most people have seen web conferences in action and if you haven’t just do a search on YouTube for them and you will get a demonstration of them. In this section I just wanted to mention a few of the open source solutions for web conferences as well as the big players like Cisco’s Web Conference.
Essentially you are showing your screen with a group of people with the aid of a group audio and text chat. Most also have a shared white board and the ability to your students to raise a hand to ask questions. As well as the ability for the teacher or students to mute and unmute themselves.
Three Open Source Alternatives are:
For a list of paid web conferencing solutions check out this article from PC Mag “The Best Web Conferencing Software”
A true live virtual classroom requires the combination of a few technologies. When teaching a class especially if it requires software installed is better done where the teacher creates the training environment to ensure they are all the same.
This is commonly done online with Virtual Machines which are full running versions of an operating system like Windows that can be accessed remotely. The teacher then installs classroom management software to view and remotely support students during the class while teaching is taking place just like in a real classroom.
The teacher presents the content and their screen to the students via Web Conference which allows students to talk to each other and ask questions of the teacher.
The online computers (Virtual Machines) are all linked together in a computer network allowing them to all interact with each other and share files and for their software to talk to each other.
This network allows for the remote control or remote support software to work as well. A combination of PowerPoint presentations and live screencasting as well as virtual training manuals is often used during these classes.
Virtual Training Manuals are eBook, Web pages (HTML5) or PDF versions of the training manuals that are protected and shared with the students. This allows the Teacher to assign tasks while doing one on one tutoring or support for a trouble student.
I have linked this title to SkyTap that provides one part of the solution which is the virtual machines with class view and remote support tool. You will still need to organize a web conference and your own training material. You can also make your own customer Live Virtual Classroom as well.
This style of training you can charge the most for and is the most effective and engaging form of online teaching you can do. It is a little more technical but worth it with the potential outcomes.
Summary of Technologies Used for Virtual Classrooms
- Online Virtual Machines – For the teacher and students to work on a controlled environment
- Classroom Management Software – For online class management and viewing
- Web Conferences – To broadcast the Teachers screen to students
- Teacher Remote Support Software – For the Teacher to supply student support
- Student Remote Desktop Software (Preferably HTML5 Clients) – for students to connect to class
Live Online Classrooms is explained further in another article so don’t be too concerned if some of these words and concepts are alien to you. We cover it in more detail in a later blog post.
How can I live stream for free?
If you don’t mind who watches your training and you want to put the bandwidth and connection problems on a third party like YouTube. You can live stream a demonstration you may want your students to see straight from a video camera. Or alternately a computer screen or device screen for them to watch what you are doing.
While YouTube has its own live streaming tools the most used tool is OBS Studio and it is also free. It will let you stream video and your screen at the same time as well as having green screen type functionality.
You can find the software on there website here:
These are all the main types of live tools you can use to run classrooms with students in real time. This is by no means an exhaustive list and more custom and blended alternates are released every day. As new tools come out I will highlight them in future articles but this will definitely get you started in choosing what will be good for your students.