Never before the Indian education sector has witnessed the power of virtual medium like at present! Ever since the country went into lockdown due to COVID-19, many schools and colleges have transitioned to digital technology and tools to connect with students and keep their academic calendar on track. However, independent home tutors and children’s activity providers are facing technology challenges regarding taking their classes online.
While we hope that the current situation comes to an end soon, it is quite likely that it may take another few weeks to re-open your coaching classes and activity centres for children. Online learning is the best and safest way forward for you to continue with your services in the interim. But, at the same time, it is also understandable that the sudden shift to digital medium could be challenging for you.
Fortunately, a plethora of free mobile apps is now available at your disposal to conduct seamless online classes, irrespective of a small or large group of students. Here is our curated list of five such tools.
1. Zoom (Video Conferencing App)
Zoom has emerged as the most preferred tool for office meetings and social gatherings in lockdown. Given its popularity and ease of use, it is now becoming a choice of many tutors and children’s activity providers.
- In-built whiteboard.
- Screen sharing feature.
- Chat feature to share documents, URLs and images with students during the live session.
- Record the live session for later reference.
- Zoom has temporarily lifted the 40-minute time limit on for schools under free version.
- Up to 100 participants can attend.
Some security issues have surfaced recently. However, you can follow the guidelines issued by the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs for safe usage.
2. Google Classroom (Classroom Management App)
This is a mobile app specifically developed by Google for schools, instructors and learners to replicate the traditional classroom environment online. Its well-structured layout and features make it easy to organize classes.
- Accessible for schools and even individuals with a personal Google account.
- Create, collect and grade assignments, and upload multimedia study material on Google Drive.
- Communicate with students through Google Hangout and Meet.
- Up to 250 participants through personal Google account and 1000 participants through school or G Suite account.
- Requires time to set up the classroom.
- Parents and students may need a few days to understand the setup.
- Not available on Microsoft Windows mobile devices.
3. ZOHO Classes (Collaboration App)
ZOHO Classes mobile app is a fresh debutant in the e-learning community. It has some powerful, but easy-to-use features for both instructors and learners.
- Host recorded and live course videos.
- Share and collect assignments in doc, PDF and image formats.
- Collect fees from parents through different payment options.
- One-on-one chats between students and teachers.
- Students can access the app on home TV for the large-screen experience.
- 100% free for government schools.
- Free edition for up to 100 students for other schools.
- It is a newly-launched app. New user issues may surface.
4. WhatsApp (Instant Messaging App)
WhatsApp really needs no introduction! But, it has turned out to be a real winner among tutors and activity providers to conduct virtual classes without downloading any other app or making any investment.
- Easy familiarity – everyone knows how to use it.
- Chat, voice and video-calling features.
- Share study resources in text, image, audio and video formats.
- Can reach to students located in the remotest areas.
- Up to 256 participants in a single group.
- Suitable only for short length courses or sessions.
- Group calls limited to only 8 users at a time.
5. YouTube (Video Sharing Service)
YouTube is also as familiar as it can get. There are many video tutorials available on how you can easily set up virtual classrooms and begin online shared learning on YouTube in less than a day.
- Teachers can host recorded videos and students can watch videos as per their convenience.
- Quick sharing with thousands of students.
- Despite uploading videos, teachers and students will still need WhatsApp, e-mail or Facebook groups to communicate with each other.
The above-mentioned tools are easy to install and use. There may be some initial hiccups in understanding how they work. However, once you figure it out, you will be able to conduct classes smoothly.
Do share your experience, if you have used any of these apps (or any others), in the comments here!