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Web Conferencing Tools

Synchronous web conferencing tools are an essential communication component for most online learning programs. This is especially true for full-time programs although many supplemental online programs also utilize these systems. The virtual classroom made possible by these systems simply works better as an instructional approach for some portions of online classes and also allows for an opportunity for social interaction. Online learning programs have found a variety of uses for web conferencing systems4:

  • Individual or small group tutoring sessions
  • Oral component of a world language course
  • Circle time for an early elementary class
  • Assemblies, allowing school-wide gatherings and even students from multiple schools to hear a guest speaker
  • Students in a math course demonstrating problem solving techniques and explaining understanding of underlying mathematical concepts
  • Open houses for the parents and guardians of students
  • Teacher office hours

In some cases, the necessary collaboration tools are either part of your LMS or are integrated into your LMS. In other cases, these tools are part of a stand-alone system either licensed from a vendor or utilizing an open software solution. While there are some differences in features from system to system, the following are common features in most web conferencing systems:

  • Voice-over-IP audio
  • Audio bridge to separate telephone conference system
  • Desktop video
  • Text chat
  • Shared white board
  • Application and computer desktop sharing
  • Ability to conduct polls of participants
  • Ability for participants to express themselves with various icons (e.g. clap hands, confused face, etc.)

References for footnotes can be found on the resources page or click on the footnote number for a direct link.