With the 2020/21 school year transitioning into online learning, many educators have reached out with questions about using various video conferencing services and how these ‘one-size fits all’ approaches to virtual learning will work for their classroom.
Video conferencing was initially created as a global corporate business communication tool. This led into many basic conferencing types designed for families and friends to connect casually across the world. With all of the video products and features offered on the market today, most were never designed with the educational system or remote learning at the forefront of their development. Rather than a virtual classroom platform designed specifically for education needs, educators have had to adapt to clunky, ‘out of the box’ type video conferencing. The limited scope of these products is often unreliable and offer little to no real security for educational institutions.
Virtual Teaching & Video Conferencing Are Not Equals
- Basic, Live Rooms – Basic video conferencing products typically do not provide enough virtual classroom tools and controls for adjusting to all types of online teaching environments. Low video quality, glitchy audio and time limited conferencing make teaching in these settings a formidable challenge.
- Lack of Interactive Tools – Basic virtual tools are often not adequate for educators. Teachers need the ability to easily annotate and markup materials in real time, with students and teachers collaborating together in real time. Instructional tools for annotation, markup and sharing are critical to the ease of success in a virtual classroom environment.
- Limited Capacity to Share – Screen and document sharing are paramount to interactive virtual education. While most video conferencing products offer screen sharing, most are limited in the ability to share documents, if at all. Having the ease of sharing any document type while in a live teaching session makes the education process much more effective and smooth.
- Compatibility With Existing Devices – Using a video conferencing product designed for a business setting can lead to very limited device compatibility. Many video products are designed to work with specific business hardware and applications. These products are limited in their capabilities in an education setting.
- Recording and Sharing Video Classes – Many video conferencing tools allow a limited ability to record a full class session. Sharing and secure upload to the cloud is nearly non-existent with business video conferencing . Education administrators need to protect their information, student privacy and completely control the security of their video content recording and transfer.
- Inadequate Security Standards – In a virtual education setting, privacy and security are critical to protect students as well as teachers. The problem we all have heard about called “room bombing” happens because security controls are lax due to the fact that there isn’t good integration between the LMS solution and the virtual classroom platform. Many conferencing products only provide basic encryption protocols such as AES with fixed key depths to handle key exchange which leaves virtual classrooms open to vulnerabilities. Having industry standard protections are paramount to the full experience of daily online learning.
What educators really need for long-term virtual learning: Solutions
A complete solution for educating online requires reliable HD video, crystal clear audio and a full suite of tools for teachers to educate effectively. Screen sharing capabilities and true document sharing, where every document type is supported provides effective and engaging online classes. Interactive annotation, document markup and whiteboard capabilities are significant parts of the instructional flow between students and educators.
Learning Management System Integration
Education LMS system administrators need a virtual learning platform solution that is designed specifically for the online classroom environment. It must be fully robust in its classroom tool-set abilities, powerful and secure in its video and audio delivery and provide complete control for system administrators. With a platform solution, all the varied school work components can be brought together in one place for collaborative learning.
With security becoming an escalating issue for system administrators in the education environment, having privacy and complete control of the virtual learning environment is key to a viable, long-term solution for any school, from K-12 to college. Conferencing must be supported by true transport layer security (TLS) security up to the current standards of TLS 1.3. For voice communications the DTLS standard is important. These are the most current and secure standards for transporting data for your virtual classrooms.
Taking education into real remote learning will have its challenges, but having the robust tools necessary to help educators to teach their students in an easy, secure and fully engaged environment is critical as more schools move online. Video conferencing products are limited in their scope, and utilizing a full video suite platform solution can provide teachers with a viable and collaborative way to educate.