Online learning is almost certainly the most transformative development in recent educational history. Students, now liberated from the constraints of the physical classroom, can use online learning tools to consume material when and where it best suits them. Educators can use these tools to make their lessons more effective and engaging, ultimately helping improve student achievement.
Virtual classrooms are one of the most popular and effective tools available in the online learning market. This powerful technology has helped redefine the very nature of distance education, allowing countless students and workers to learn more effectively while providing access to others who otherwise may have been left out.
To illustrate the scope and reach of these tools, let’s take a closer look at how today’s most advanced virtual classrooms work, including one particularly impactful development: The integration of WebRTC into modern virtual classrooms.
What are virtual classrooms?
A virtual classroom is an online learning environment where students and instructors interact in real time and handle all typical classroom activities remotely. It’s essentially a digital copy of a physical classroom setting.
Virtual classrooms can be used in an educational setting or a business setting. Benefits include greater accessibility for learners, cost reductions for institutions or businesses and an enhanced learning process that engages users.
Today’s most advanced virtual classrooms offer a range of powerful features. These include:
- Mobile capabilities, including dedicated software applications
- The ability to easily schedule, track and administer live training or educational sessions
- The ability to generate automated reports that can be analyzed for key insights into student performance, preferences or learning patterns
- Recording of live sessions, with the ability to distribute this content across a range of channels
- Real-time communication
- The use of an advanced interactive whiteboard
- High definition video conferencing and server-side recording, offering instant archiving
Educators or businesses seeking to invest in online learning should consider virtual classrooms that possess these core features. Many of them are supported by powerful new technologies and standards, including WebRTC.
WebRTC and other key attributes of modern, cutting-edge virtual classrooms
Today’s most advanced virtual classrooms allow instructors to seamlessly train or teach in real time from an Internet browser. No large downloads or plug-ins are required, and institutions can integrate the technology into existing customer management or learning management systems and websites with a few button clicks.
Responsible for many of these features, WebRTC (short for “Web Real-Time Communications) is one of the most recent and powerful new technologies supporting virtual classrooms. For the uninitiated, WebRTC is a standard for the transmission of audio and video content. The HTML5-based WebRTC virtual classroom has the necessary supporting technology to allow real-time audio and video via a Web browser without the need for Java, Flash or any plug-in.
Obviously, stable and speedy transmission of video and audio is crucial when it comes to online learning. Without it, students or trainees quickly become frustrated, which can lead to demoralization and flagging performance. By helping to ensure the process of logging on and working within a virtual classroom is seamless, WebRTC is a critical differentiator in the product category.
Benefits of WebRTC include:
- Heightens security by lowering the need for plug-ins
- WebRTC is browser agnostic, allowing users of software supported by the standard to use the browser of their choosing
- WebRTC offers secure transmission. Video and audio transmitted are encrypted and authenticated via the Secure RTP protocol.
- WebRTC enhances stability. The technology reduces latency and takes the pressure off servers by reducing the load.
- WebRTC allows multiple streams to run seamlessly. WebRTC is adaptive and can adjust to fluctuating network conditions. It can respond to bandwidth availability and prevent congestion. The result? The ability to run multiple stable, high-quality streams.
These benefits are put to great use in modern virtual classrooms, where stable, high-quality transmissions are a top priority. The WebRTC virtual classroom has had such a positive impact that it’s no overstatement to say that eLearning dynamics have been significantly changed for the better.
How is WebRTC changing eLearning dynamics?
WebRTC allows for multiple, fluid simultaneous video and audio streams. It provides for synchronous and seamless collaboration, another essential element for any successful online learning initiative. Because it takes advantage of built-in capabilities of a browser, the experience is unified. There’s no need for downloads or attachments on any smart device to collaborate in real-time. WebRTC virtual classrooms work on all devices, including a smart TV.
WebRTC virtual classrooms also support high-definition video-conferencing and full-screen viewing modes. Audio is clean, clear and free of echoes, with sophisticated speaker recognition capabilities.
All of these features add up to a significant improvement to the overall learning experience. Users can avail themselves of the myriad benefits of online learning, without being put off by choppy video, tinny audio, and onerous requirements regarding downloads of plug-ins to launch the virtual classroom.
This kind of marked improvement in user experience represents a serious shift in eLearning dynamics. Prior iterations of online learning technology simply lacked the technological power to replicate the in-person classroom experience fully. WebRTC has helped erase that disparity. Now, online learners can collaborate face to face in the crisp high-definition video, while seamlessly navigating the entire virtual classroom experience.
Because WebRTC has helped make virtual classrooms more effective and appealing, it has also made eLearning more attractive to institutions or businesses that may have shied away out of technical concerns. Organizations that were previously missing out on the profound benefits of online learning (particularly in the areas of cost reduction and skills development) can now reap those rewards thanks to the refinement of the technology.
Why WebRTC virtual classroom?
Online learning — still a relatively new endeavor despite being a disruptor — has had a remarkable impact on the field of education. As the technology supporting online education is maturing, the benefits offered by this approach have become more sharply defined.
With the introduction of WebRTC, virtual classrooms became even more interactive and immersive. Improved video and audio quality, stable system navigation and advanced collaboration tools have helped make the modern virtual classroom a near replica of the physical classroom.
Institutions or organizations seeking to harness the power of a virtual classroom should ensure that the product they use takes full advantage of the WebRTC standard. This technology greatly enhances user experience and allows virtual classrooms to offer a range of advanced features, making it an essential attribute for anyone interested in cutting-edge online learning.