With the rise in popularity of online courses, competition is getting tougher for amateur creators. Creating a quality course is tough enough, but making it affordable and unique is a bigger challenge. Well, great news for all the course creators: now there is an abundance of online teaching tools to help you with curating a top-notch learning experience.
Must have online teaching tools
In this day and age, there is rarely anyone who is not familiar with Zoom. According to the Okta Business at work report 2020, Zoom is the fastest-growing video-conferencing app and has been consistent since 2016. The platform comes with 4 pricing plans: Basic (Free), Pro ($149.9/yr), Business ($ 199.9/yr), and Enterprise ($ 240/yr). There is also an additional option of getting a custom plan with various other add-ons.
Now to talk about its features; Zoom comes packed - even its Basic plan - with over 40 features to offer. Namely, HD video and audio, instant live messaging, file sharing, multi-screen sharing, etc. It comes with a built-in scheduling app that works like your personal assistant, responsible for sending out invitations and reminders for meetings. Besides, you can also pair it with Google Calendar and Outlook to sync it with your schedules.
Some of the features that makes Zoom an online course creator's best friend are white-boarding, break-out rooms, and polling feature. With white-boarding, the host and also participants can annotate and interact like in a classroom. Break-out rooms especially come in handy when dividing students into smaller groups for brainstorming and assignments. It makes learning fun and effective. Lastly, the polling option lets the host run live polls during the meeting. Course creators can use this to obtain instant feedback.
This was just a small chunk of what Zoom has to offer.
Another widely preferred video-conferencing app is Google Meet. Besides being a reliable app, it is completely free! However, there are custom pricing options as well, but they cater largely to big enterprises and companies. Thankfully, for most of us, all we have to do is simply sign in using our Gmail accounts and we are Live.
The free plan offers an unlimited number of meetings with up to 100 participants. People can control screen sharing and integrate the app with Microsoft Office and other Google products. The live messaging feature enables direct communication between participants and hosts. My favorite feature is hands down the Live captioning during video conferencing. Subtitles can help with hearing issues and help students catch up with the discussions.
One of the key problems with online video conferencing apps is the trouble with making them a safe space. Goole Meet effectively tackles this issue by offering anti-abuse features by default. These include secure meeting controls (enabling/disenabling participants) and multiple 2-step verifications among others. All videos also are encrypted in transit by default between the client and Google to prevent any kind of data leak.
To make online learning easier, creators also have the option to opt for G Suite for Education. This provides Meet, Classroom, and various other Google workspace options under one space.
Nearpod is the ultimate solution to making online classes fun. It makes lessons interactive via collaborative engaging activities like virtual reality, simulations, and gamified quizzes. Moreover, to keep track of all the activities, each session comes with an individual session's report that can be shared and downloaded for reference in PDF and CSV formats.
Teachers can also upload their favorite resources like Powerpoint, Google Slides, and videos (even directly from YouTube) in their sessions. The formative assessments include activities like Polls, Open-ended questions, Draw-its, etc to make learning exciting. Besides the freedom to custom-create each session, creators also get access to Nearpod's library of pre-made lessons and videos. Something to check out when one feels down on creativity or is running on a tight schedule.
Nearpod comes with 3 teaching modes:
- Live Participation Mode: Where instructor is in control and control the pace of the session.
- Student Paced Mode: Where students control the pace and participate on their own.
- Front of Class Mode: Suited for in-class learning.
Another interesting feature that is currently in Beta-testing is Field trips powered by 360 cities which will allow students to have a virtual reality field trip experience. Have a look at its pricing options and determine which plan suits you best.
Slack is a workspace communication tool where participants interact in safe and individually curated channels. This is particularly important for course creators who are managing various different groups of learners at once. To answer why one should opt for this app; it has been found that Slack improves productivity by 32%. With Workflow builder, users can automate everyday routine tasks more efficiently. Hence, saving them bucket loads of time that can be spent elsewhere.
Besides communicating through messages, one can also make video and voice calls. Moreover, users can integrate the tool with over 2000 different apps (e.g. Google Drive and Office 365) without any additional costs. A special mention needs to be made for Slack's efforts at making it more accessible for a diverse user pool (especially for differently-abled people). Features like a screen reader, commands for navigating the app, and keyboard shortcuts are just some of the ways by which Slack ensures accessibility.
Trello is a project management and collaboration app that provides private communication channels to discuss projects in real-time. It uses a special Board and Cards system to manage a project, where each project is marked with a board and its individual tasks are listed as cards. The app comes with a tracking list that makes it easy to prioritize specific tasks over others and get them done in no time. Also, the automatic email notification informs participants regarding any updates or changes made on the project.
An interesting function of the app is its Streamlined Voting System i.e. participants can vote on any project/task and approve/disapprove of them right on the spot. Here is a list of some of the features Trello has to offer:
- Drag-and-Drop Editing
- Organization with Labeling, Tags, and Comments
- File Attachment
- Easy Upload (Local Devices, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box)
- Activity Logs
- Progress Meter Checklist
- Customer Support
Its easy-to-use interface and smooth editing make it a winner amongst users. Besides, all of the data on the app is stored away in organized categories for future use and reference. To help you be more productive than ever, Butler (Trello's built-in automation bot) takes care of all the tedious management. If you think the app lacks some tools, you can integrate it with apps of your choice too.
Quizlet is a gamified online teaching tool that allows users to design exciting games, quizzes, and flashcards for free. Moreover, the app has a huge library of learning materials available for use according to each subject area e.g. humanities, film, History, etc.
Here are some of the features that have been reviewed by users as their most preferred ones.
- Assessment management
- Learning management
- Data import/export
- Progress reports and tracking
- Reporting and statistics
- Supports asynchronous learning
Quizlet is a perfect tool for creators who struggle with making their online courses fun.
Creately is a diagram tool with a collaboration feature. Especially handy for making Venn diagrams, infographics, charts, etc. You have the option of starting from scratch but if you are like me and frequently suffer from a creator's block, Creately has up to 1000s of design templates to help you out. Easily import and export your data or organize your designs into separate folders, Creately does it all.
Here are some of the top features:
- Collaboration tools
- Drag-and-drop interface
- Drawing tools
- Templates and shapes
- Data import/export
Some of the prominent users of Creately include NASA, eBay, Amazon, National Geographic among others. Hence why it is on our list of top online teaching tools.
Space, whether it is physical or digital, is becoming scarce and expensive. In such a time, Google Drive is one such tool that safely stores all your documents online for future use. Now you can be anywhere in the world, you can carry all your files with you without cramping up your devices.
Its easy-to-use interface and compatibility with other apps make it a must-have. Not only that, but you can also work offline without the fuss of having a good internet connection with its offline mode. Review the editing history of your files and easily share them with custom links without any fear of data leaks.
Loom is a unique video-making communications app. It allows people to interact meaningfully without having to do one-on-one calls. Users can capture screens or record videos using a camera and share them easily using custom links. Key features of Loom include:
- Video sharing
- customizable branding
- animation previews
- customer support teams
Loom can operate on cloud or on-premise. Users can share videos with specific people by creating folders and control access using passwords. Moreover, Loom is flexible and can be integrated with other apps as well e.g Gmail, Slack. Embedly, etc.
Canva is an easy-to-use graphic design tool. It allows you to create original visuals without the need to be a graphics designer. You can either create from scratch or use Canva's vast template library for reference. Some of the top-rated featured by users are:
- Collaboration tools
- Drag and drop
- Access controls
- Customizable branding
- Curved text
Statistics show that Canva has had the largest LMS market share in the US, with 36.7% of platforms using it in 2020. Check out pricing plans for Canva here.
Teachfloor: One-stop-shop for online teaching tools
Going around online and searching for suitable online teaching tools is painstakingly boring and very inefficient. That is why it is better to opt for the perfect Learning Management System (LMS) which offers all of these tools under one roof. It will save you time and especially, money.
This is where Teachfloor comes in to save the day. It is a Live online course creation academy that comes integrated with Zoom for hosting seamless cohort sessions. Rather than separately opting for online teaching tools, Teachfloor offers built-in features that replicate the functions of these tools. For example, the platform has options for designing quizzes, scheduling the sessions, designing curriculum, discussion forums, and community management for participants to come together and share their ideas. Moreover, the platform also comes with cloud storage to store all your data.
An interesting feature that Teachfloor offers is the multi-instructors option. With this option, you can onboard instructors and work as a team. It also comes integrated with Stripe for swift payments.
Teachfloor makes it manageable for course creators to run their course business and not having to worry about looking for the right online teaching tools. For a well-rounded look at what Teachfloor has to offer, check it out here: Teachfloor features.
The aim of this article was to give you a complete and detailed review of some of the best online teaching tools. Hopefully, by now you must have an adequate idea about the above-listed tools. Besides simply giving you an overview of these tools, this article also established that opting for the right LMS - like Teachfloor - can save you from spending extra time and money by providing you with all the essential tools in one space.
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