The coronavirus has brought the world to a standstill and pushed the world into their abodes with schools, offices and other institutes closing down in order to limit human contact which is the main culprit behind the spread of the virus. The world has turned to a ‘Work from Home’ regime which ensures some degree of productivity. Schools and other institutions are conducting online classes via the video conferencing app Zoom. However, the latest reports of ‘Zoom Bombing’ and other security-related issues with the Zoom platform, has sent teachers looking for an alternative. The 40 min time limit on the free version of Zoom is also a hindrance in the learning process. If you’re looking for an alternative to Zoom, our list here should help you.
The Google Classroom is an app designed for students and teachers with features like assigning classwork, creating classes, grading assignments, class comment and more. The app also has a video calling feature which is supported by Google Meet. You can simply enable it from the settings and have the link shared or be shown on the class page. The video calling supports up to 100 participants at once which is perfect for conducting an online class. It has features like chat, host-controlled audio and more. You can the app for your mobile devices and log in via a browser on your computer. The app is great as it is seamlessly integrated video conferencing and teaching into a single platform without the need for jumping between apps.
Skype for Business
The business counterpart for the famous video calling app-Skype is great for conducting online classes with your students. The platform has a free variant but you can get a monthly subscription for Rs 130/person or if your institute has an Office 365 subscription, you can use it via that as well. The platform supports simultaneous video conferencing for 250 participants at once. The app is currently shifting to Microsoft teams and you will be asked to upgrade as Skype for Business will be retired on July 31, 2021. You can its app for your mobile devices and your computer. The free variant of Skype for business allows only for 50 people to join in on a video conference. The app is great because of its high participators value and secure data transfers but, it is complicated to set up and required a subscription to either of 365 or the monthly plan to fully utilise its potential.
The future of Microsoft’s video conferencing- Microsoft Teams. There is a free variant but it has limited functionalities. Your Office 365 comes with a Microsoft Team subscription and that will allow you to make simultaneous group video calls to 250 participants. You can have multiple channels and also chat functionalities. The platform has good video quality and is easy to use. It also features like custom background which is similar to one on Zoom. The free variant of teams has a major limitation which is that only 50 people can join in a video call unlike 250 with Office 365. The Microsoft Teams allows for great collaborative work and has the Microsoft quality but, it is bound to Office 365 might be an issue if you don’t already have it.
From the makers of LogMeIn, the GoToMeeting is the standalone web conferencing platform which provides audio and video chats. It is mobile friendly and can also be used on PC and Mac. The calls are high definition and can have 49 people together on a screen and a total of 1000 participants. It uses 256-bit TLS encryption for both meetings. You can also share files while conferencing. You can have 100 people on a video conference for 40 mins but, by subscribing to their paid tier for $20 a month, you can bypass this time limit. The256-bit TLS encryption ensures rock-solid security, however, $20/month is steep for the monthly subscription with others offering a better deal.
This platform providescloud-based video conferencing and is usable on IOS, Android, PC and Mac making it very flexible. This service, however, does not have a free variant however, you can try it for free for 30 days. It has 3 plans:
1 Me- $14.99/month with 50 participants
2 My Team- $19.99/month with 10 hours of conferencing and 75 participants.
3 My Company: The pricing it quoted directly by the company and has the features of all the above plans and additional features like 150 participants, SIP room system etc. The lack of a free variant is a glaring issue and is not suitable for temporary situations. the high participant value and industrial offering, however, is a boon for educational institutions and teachers. The various tiers also let you select the offering that suits you.
A video conferencing app for teachers must have some essential features such as high participant limit, host control, availability on a wide array of devices etc. All these apps tick these boxes making them suitable for online teaching purposes.