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Published on:
February 22, 2022

5 Reasons Why Remote Learning Needs a Virtual Meeting Platform

Let’s say you’ve built a great elearning course. It has all the bells and whistles and teaches the subject well. 


So all your students have to do is go through the course, and they’ll be completely ready to use their newfound knowledge to tackle whatever task challenges them next, right?


Well, maybe. It really depends on the course content and the core audience. Chances are if your elearning course takes time and effort to get through, your students will have questions, thoughts, ideas, and more that they would like to share.


So how can they do that?


The answer is a virtual meeting platform. It provides a space for students and instructors to communicate with each other through video, messaging, sharing documents and files, and more. This way, students can get more from their learning by collaborating with each other.


It’s like the old saying goes, sharing is caring.


In this article, we’ll explore how virtual meeting platforms work, their relationship with LMSs, how to choose virtual meeting apps that work for you, and much more.


Ready to go? Let’s get started!

What is a Virtual Meeting Platform?

What is a Virtual Meeting Platform

When it comes to bringing people together online, there is perhaps no other widely used software than a virtual meeting platform. Virtual meeting software exists to provide a space for people to meet in real-time over the internet, typically using video and incorporating other chat methods, like messaging, as a secondary way to communicate. In this context, the phrase “virtual meeting platform” and “video conferencing” are often used interchangeably.


In the context of remote learning, virtual meeting tools can be integrated into most Learning Management Systems (LMS) to provide a place where students and instructors can communicate with each other and do all the things listed above. Tovuti, for example, has its own meeting solution built-in. Chances are if you’re using one of the more well-known virtual meeting tools, like Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams, students and instructors will already know how to use these platforms, significantly reducing or eliminating the learning curve for at least a portion of the technology needed for the course. 

When was the first virtual meeting platform created?

Here’s some fun history — the first virtual meeting platform was created in the early days of the internet, often referred to as the 1990s internet boom. A bunch of students from Cambridge University’s Computer Science Department put their heads together to invent the first webcam in 1991. This webcam wasn’t great by today’s standards, only being able to display a 129 x 129-pixel grayscale image at a whopping one frame per second, with the software only being able to load new images three times per minute. Not exactly the high-resolution streaming capabilities we’re used to today.


The video conferencing revolution continued into the 1990s, with a Cornell student writing a program called CU-SeeMe to be released in 1992 on Mac OS and Windows in 1994. Another company called Connectix launched a program called Quickcam in 1994, which was the first commercially available webcam.


Of course, virtual meeting technology continues to grow, and even today virtual meeting apps are being constantly updated and improved upon.

Types of Virtual Meeting Platforms

There are a wide variety of virtual meeting platforms out there, with the majority of them supporting seamless audio and video as well as other communication features, like messaging. 


The main types of virtual meeting platforms are:


  • Teleconferencing
  • Video and web conferencing
  • Virtual reality conferencing

Teleconferencing

While teleconferencing sometimes gets looped in with other types of conferencing options, the technology started as voice only. Chances are you’ve used this type of technology before, where everyone participating in the meeting dials into a meeting “room” using either their own desk phone or the phone in a boardroom (which is often more like a speaker with a dial pad). 


Obviously, since its audio-only, teleconferencing effectiveness can suffer significantly if voice quality is poor due to a poor internet connection. And although multiple people can dial in at one time, there are often few moderation options with teleconferencing, meaning that more effort needs to be put into keeping the meeting on track. 

Video and Web Conferencing

This is the conferencing that most people these days use the most — video and web conferencing. This virtual meeting platform type is typically referred to as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex, or Google Meet. You can usually do more on these virtual meeting apps than simply share your face on video; sharing your computer screen, files, and using presentation tools (like a virtual whiteboard) are also possible. These features add more collaboration opportunities.


Most video and web conferencing software also include additional features aside from just straight video chat, such as a built-in messaging system, “hand raise” (a non-interrupting way to let the speaker know you have a question), the ability to mute, turn the video on/off, and control these options for participants, and more. 

Virtual Reality (VR) Conferencing

Virtual Reality (VR) Conferencing

Newer and emerging VR technologies from companies like Occulus and Microsoft are poised to revolutionize the virtual meeting platform space. The Occulus Quest line of VR headsets, for example, offers applications that allow meeting participants to create an avatar that sits in virtual space alongside colleagues’ avatars. 


The point of VR in conferencing is arguably to mimic an in-person meeting as closely as possible when barriers (like location, time zone differences, etc.) keep us apart, while also providing a bit more of a fun experience, like having a meeting at a tropical destination or in the middle of a volcano!

Virtual Meeting Software in the Realm of eLearning

With elearning, it’s all about creating memorable and engaging learning experiences. This means adopting technology into elearning courses that support students and instructors alike. 


But creating engaging elearning experiences wasn’t always easy. When we take a look at the history of elearning, there wasn’t really much teaching going on, with students mainly sitting in front of a machine answering questions. Not exactly the most riveting experience. Still, it allowed students the flexibility they needed to get an education when in-person options didn’t work for them.


But with the internet giving us the ability to instantly connect with each other, learning can now easily accommodate both synchronous learning or asynchronous learning styles, meaning that courses can be taught in the way they were meant to be taught, whether that’s through live instruction, a self-driven elearning course, or a combination of both.


What these advancements really mean is that we’re moving towards not needing to make sacrifices with engagement when it comes to teaching online. Instead, virtual meeting tools can provide the engagement that students need to succeed.


And, as we discussed in the previous section, virtual meeting apps have evolved from just video chat; they can offer interactive elements like digital whiteboards or even VR, meaning that being creative with instructor-led training is even easier than ever before. For instance, with Tovuti’s virtual classroom, presenters can not only use a virtual whiteboard, but they can also upload their own presentations or documents and write on them. Presenters can also share youtube videos, create polls, and more. 


Integration with messaging tools like Slack and Discord as well as social media also facilitates more interaction with peers and instructors, even in asynchronous learning environments.

5 Reasons You Should Adopt Virtual Meeting Programs for Remote Learning

5 Reasons You Should Adopt Virtual Meeting Programs for Remote Learning

Sure, you can create an elearning course without using a virtual meeting platform, but why would you? The benefits of using a virtual meeting platform in your elearning course are endless, from increased interaction with students and instructors to technical conveniences, like being able to record meetings. 


Let’s take a closer look at five main reasons why incorporating virtual meeting tools into your next elearning course is a no-brainer:

Students and Instructors Can Keep In Touch

There’s a ton of evidence out there that suggests studying with friends has numerous benefits, from holding each other accountable for learning to having people to bounce ideas off of and increase knowledge through conversation. 


Virtual learning environments might not seem like the best way to support the learning buddy system, but virtual meeting platforms can give students and instructors a space where they can keep in touch, even when live instruction has ended. Students can use virtual meeting software to meet with each other face to face through video, create a group chat with a few people to discuss what was just taught in class, share documents, and more. 

Makes Sharing Information Easier

With a virtual meeting platform, instructors and students can share information just as quickly as they are speaking to each other. Read an article the other day that directly relates to what is being discussed in class? Share it in a Slack channel. Oops, forgot to submit your assignment and your instructor just reminded you? Upload it within seconds. 

Increases Productivity

Aside from the obvious benefit of not having to get everyone together in a room (which, if you work in an office, you know can take forever with everyone needing to get a coffee or use the bathroom before the meeting starts) virtual meetings can actually be more productive than in-person meetings as well.


Here are a few examples of how virtual meetings can be more productive than meeting in person:


  • You have more control over each participant with a virtual meeting. Most virtual meeting platforms like Zoom or Webex have built-in moderation tools, allowing the host to mute participants, send messages to the entire group or an individual person, and more. 
  • Virtual meetings can also cut down on interruptions, by instructing participants to type out their questions in the chat to be answered at the end of the meeting or later.
  • Participants can also use features like “raise hand” that lets everyone know they have a question, so they don’t have to interrupt to get attention. Breakout rooms are also often available for people to discuss certain topics at different points in the meeting, which can be worked into the meeting agenda if necessary. 

Recordable Meetings

Recordable Meetings

Ever wish you could listen to a meeting again? One of the best features of virtual meeting platforms is the ability to record meetings. Recorded meetings can be watched later through video. The benefits of recorded meetings are numerous, from supporting students that missed the lecture, to clarifying information that was presented in the meeting.

Facilitates Collaboration

Collaboration can sometimes be difficult in a remote learning environment because you aren’t sitting physically together in a room with your peers. However, most virtual meeting platforms include numerous ways for participants to collaborate, like breakout rooms, messaging, the ability to share documents and computer screens, and more. 

4 Ideas for Using Virtual Meeting Platforms for Team Collaboration

With a myriad of technologies available for facilitating team collaboration, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. You can have all the software in the world available to you, but if you don’t know where to start using it, then it isn’t very effective!


With that in mind, here are some ideas that you can build off of for using virtual meeting platforms to get your team to collaborate:

1. Team events

Team events

It’s fun to do things together, even if your team is remote. Virtual team events can be just as fun as in-person ones if you get a little creative. Virtual bingo is a fun idea for a quick and easy team event, but there are other, more intense ones like online escape rooms if you want something different. The main thing to keep in mind is that as long as everyone is interacting with each other and having fun, then the team event is a success.

2. Catch-up meetings

When you’re working remotely, it can be tough to find the time to connect. Scheduling catch-up meetings on a regular basis, such as weekly or bi-weekly, is a good way to ensure that needed connections take place between supervisors and workers, or even between peers.

3. Online discussions

Implementing a platform where your team can discuss different situations, issues, or ask questions throughout the day is basically a staple for all teams, remote or not. Messaging applications like Slack or Discord are great tools that support remote teams of all sizes.

4. Mentorship

mentorship

Have a newer employee that needs some mentoring? Virtual meeting platforms can be great for mentorship. It can be done on an individual basis or with a group, depending on training objectives. Basically, everyone meets at the scheduled time and asks questions or seeks out guidance as necessary.

Best Virtual Meeting Platform for eLearning

If you’re planning on implementing a virtual meeting platform into your next elearning course or program, you’ll want to choose one that can perform to your expectations. Here are some steps you can take to find your ideal virtual meeting platform:

Step 1: Determine Which Features You Need

Not all virtual meeting platforms are built the same. On the surface, it may look like Zoom and Google Meet perform in the exact same way, but when you take a closer look at the features of each, you’ll start to see differences. For example, at the time of this writing, Zoom’s free version will only allow meetings of up to 40 minutes for group meetings, while Google Meet allows group meetings of up to an hour with their free plan.


If you’re often hosting large groups, then you might want a virtual meeting platform with more moderation features to keep the meetings more organized, like the ability to mute everyone, a built-in messaging feature, and more. 

Step 2: Research Virtual Meeting Software

Research Virtual Meeting Software

Once you determine which features are most important to you, you can start the process of researching which virtual meeting platform offers the selection of features you want. You’ll also have to consider your budget, especially if you’re choosing virtual meeting software for your company. The biggest players in the virtual meeting space are Webex, Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams, so those are good ones to start your research with.

Step 3: Choose a Compatible LMS

Now that you’ve picked a virtual meeting platform, it’s time to choose an LMS that will work seamlessly with it. Not all LMSs are built the same, and while most of them have some sort of virtual meeting platform compatibility, others have it built-in instead or are only compatible with one virtual meeting platform. 


As you can see, choosing an LMS might not be the easiest step in this process, but we’ve compared some popular LMS to help you out:


Top LMS for Virtual Meeting Platforms

Name

Compatibility with Virtual Meeting apps

Other Notable Virtual Meeting Features

Tovuti

Supports Zoom, Webex, GoToMeeting, Join.me, and more

  • Breakout rooms
  • Share documents, videos, and screens on the fly
  • Draw on shared screens and files in real-time
  • Notifications
  • Calendar integration

Moodle

Most popular virtual meeting software can be integrated within Moodle LMS, including Zoom, Google Meet, Webex, and more

  • Completely open source
  • New settings and features are added through relevant Moodle plugins
  • Includes built-in features from video conferencing software

Docebo

Supports Webex, GoToMeeting, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and more

  • Includes a “Discover, Coach, and Share” platform where users can share content, message each other, and more
  • Add documents and resources for students to refer to
  • Learners can join webinars through the Go.Learn app
  • Notifications
  • Calendar integration

Cornerstone LMS

Pre-packed integrations available for Webex, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and more

  • Session management through Administrator
  • Calendar integrations
  • Notifications

360Learning

Integrates with Zoom

  • Smart scheduling (calendar invites, notifications, etc.)
  • Top rated for blended learning
  • Classroom management tools


Table sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

Virtual Meeting Tools Q&A

Virtual Meeting Tools Q&A

Virtual meeting platforms as a topic is pretty vast, so it’s likely that you still have questions about it. Here are some frequently asked questions (and answers) to the most common questions on virtual meeting software:

What are the best virtual meeting platforms for large groups?

Online meetings with large numbers of people often require the virtual meeting platform to have more moderation features, like the ability to mute on entry, change hosts on the fly, hand raise, and more. Some platforms, like Zoom, support up to 500 or 1000 participants in a meeting, depending on your plan. 

What are the best virtual meeting platforms for personal use?

For personal use, Zoom and Google Meet are common virtual meeting platforms that offer free or paid versions for personal use. There are other options as well, such as Facebook live, Slack video calls, Discord, and more. 

What is the best virtual meeting software?

What is considered the best virtual meeting software is subjective. Whichever one you think is the best will depend on your own personal experience with the software, your use case scenarios, and whether it offers the features you need. The most effective way to choose the best virtual meeting software is to do your research, which includes reading reviews from other customers, visiting the websites of software you’re interested in, and even partaking in free trials or demos so you can see how the software works for yourself.

Summary

Virtual meeting platforms and remote learning go hand in hand. Remote learning provides unmatched convenience and accessibility when it comes to learning, as it eliminates certain barriers to education, like the need to commute, location, needing to follow a set schedule, and more. 


However, students don’t have to completely be on their own with remote learning. The ability to easily communicate with your instructors and other students in a variety of ways adds unmatched value to the learning experience. By incorporating a virtual meeting platform, students and instructors can benefit from easier collaboration, often resulting in increased productivity and better learning outcomes.


Choosing an LMS that works seamlessly with the virtual meeting platform of your choice is also an important consideration. Tovuti not only works with the major players in the virtual meeting software space, but it also provides an easy, user-friendly experience when creating your own elearning courses.


If you’re ready to get started with Tovuti or you want to learn more, watch our demo and we’ll walk you through the software and all it has to offer.

Author:
Tyson Chaplin

Tyson Chaplin earned his Master of Educational Technology degree from Boise State University in 2014. He also earned a graduate certificate in Technology Integration and holds teaching certificates in online teaching, special education, and history.

Tyson is an Idaho native who is passionate about technology and how it can help all people learn and better themselves. He has worked in both public and private sectors. Tyson enjoys cooking and traveling with his wife, Malia, and restores vintage video game systems in his free time.

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