Blog post

Virtual Classroom Software: Distance Learning Across Geographies

Discover integral parts of virtual classroom software based on relevant examples of emerging MENA and APAC distance learning markets

July 06, 2020

8 mins read

Today, distance and online learning is surging across the educational space and across the globe, raising the demand for virtual classroom platforms. Collaboration between universities, schools, businesses, and education technology providers bridges skill gaps for successful employment. Virtual classroom software is conquering emerging markets in the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East, and North Africa, unleashing the potential for educational revolutions at a national scale.

Who needs virtual classroom software the most

Virtual Classroom Software: Distance Learning Across Geographies

The billion-dollar reason to develop a virtual classroom solution

The coronavirus pandemic is contributing to the current boom in virtual teaching and learning. Locking down the education sector has posed severe challenges for educators, telecom providers, and virtual classroom software providers, all of whom have had to handle the increased load of users. Microsoft Teams even went down for quite some time due to the abrupt spike in online collaboration.

UNESCO estimates that, as of 26 March 2020, 165 countries have closed schools and universities nationwide, affecting over 1.5 billion children and youth – or 87% of the world’s student population and a further 11 countries have implemented localized school closures.


Educational providers lacking digital alternatives to in-person courses seem to be having a difficult time. But while the pandemic will eventually go away, the demand for distance learning will stick with us for the long term.

Students, 65% of whom have already taken online courses, are craving a mobile learning experience. This motivates virtual classroom providers to focus on the responsiveness of their solutions. In addition, employees are now working remotely more often, which makes online corporate trainings the number one option to onboard newcomers and keep employees on track with their career journeys.

Apart from established providers of software for virtual classrooms like Coursera, Blackboard, and edX, emerging EdTech startups are paving their way to fill the technology gap separating education providers and a new generation of learners. Considering the global eLearning market will reach $325 billion by 2025, developing virtual classroom software appears more lucrative than ever.

What is a virtual classroom and what are its integral parts?

A virtual classroom is an online learning environment that can work as a complete platform or a suite of integrated software tools. Virtual classroom software engages teachers and learners in a collaborative online experience where all participants can exchange course materials, interact via conferences and chats, work in project groups, and get instant feedback on progress or knowledge gaps.

Integral parts of virtual classroom software:
Virtual Classroom Software: Distance Learning Across Geographies

In-demand features for engaging virtual learning

Mobile responsiveness

A mobile experience has become a basic requirement for online learning solutions. Learners want to access courses and reach each other using their mobile devices. Micro-learning has achieved its highest adoption rate yet, while mobile devices are increasing engagement with materials through games, quizzes, and smart recommendations. By developing a mobile-optimized virtual learning classroom, you can win the hearts and minds of a new generation of learners.

Learn how Intellias has designed and developed a mobile-responsive extension for a web-based language learning application

Natural collaboration

Previously considered an undisputed advantage of face-to-face learning, collaboration in virtual classrooms now goes much further than the limited lesson time. Learners demand integrations with their instant messengers so they can stay tuned to updated materials and create project groups. They also want to turn learning into a game, which requires gamification strategies and leaderboards so they can compete in knowledge and skills.

Flexible interactions

The common approach of sitting through lessons with a teacher is no longer satisfying for many students. They want to access only relevant courses when they have time and take tests when they feel they’re ready to succeed. A virtual classroom platform should provide flexibility by relying on cloud infrastructure that’s accessible 24/7 and should be able to withstand a high load of users at peak periods.

Omni-synchronous learning

Learners want it all and now, so don’t disappoint them. They strive to participate in live sessions for synchronous delivery of courses, staying on the same page with teachers and other students. At the same time, learners praise asynchronous learning for the ability to access materials after a teacher has posted a new course.

Sweet bonus: breakthroughs in virtual classrooms

Innovations in other fields encourage users to expect something similar from educational technologies. Among the technologies, learners want to use while studying are:

  • AI and machine learning. When finishing an exciting course, learners are ready to continue. All they need is a smart recommendation based on their previous interactions with content.
  • Chatbots. Virtual assistants make interactions between users and services frictionless. Chat bots can become guides in new learning environments or the kind of study buddy you expect to find in a dormitory.
  • AR/VR technologies. Coming from the entertainment and media industry, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) can be used for corporate trainings (Walmart used AR/VR to prepare sales personnel for Black Friday madness) and for practical exams (such as for medical workers to provide virtual experiences close to real-life conditions). And how about a whole virtual campus where students can study and live student life while being represented by virtual avatars?

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Examples of virtual learning classrooms

Virtual classroom software often serves as the means to deliver or monetize educational content. Virtual classrooms can be divided into complete solutions for content creation, administration, and delivery and integrated tools to increase learners’ engagement and offer distance learning as an alternative to in-person learning.

MOOCs

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are educational platforms that offer targeted learning experiences to a wide audience. Teachers, universities, and businesses can upload their courses to a MOOC platform, while learners can enroll to acquire specific skills.

Bootcamps

Bootcamps offer intensive and often blended courses for development, design, data analytics, etc. with an emphasis on practice for learners who want to enter a new field or advance in their careers.

Online degrees and certifications

Online degree programs are offered by universities or colleges for foreign and local students to make educational resources accessible and relevant for future employment. Compliance organizations can also provide learners with certificates that meet specific project requirements.

Integrated services

Education and corporate training providers may already have content and classes and only require an environment for delivering them and facilitating collaboration between participants. In these cases, developing virtual classroom software covers designing custom APIs to integrate communication tools like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Classroom, and GoToMeeting into already operational learning systems.

Learn how Intellias created a corporate training platform with integrated communication tools based on Microsoft Teams

EdTech landscape by regions: Vendors and providers of virtual classroom toolsets

Virtual Classroom Software: Distance Learning Across Geographies

Use cases of virtual classroom solutions across the most promising and emerging markets

The success of online education in emerging markets depends on internet access. Previously, this dependency slowed down adoption in Arabic and Asian markets, where governments are deeply involved in regulating web traffic. But nowadays, the situation is changing. State educational programs in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and China are giving a boost to online education as governments understand the importance of digitizing learning, especially during the pandemic. Among the many notable success cases are several that have drawn the attention of the global eLearning community.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Rwaq platform

Rwaq is a MOOC that offers courses in around 100 disciplines, delivered online by teachers to 330,000 learners from 172 countries. Saudi Arabian learners represent 37% of Rwaq users. The Rwaq platform partners with nine corporate organizations to develop courses in economics, management, technology, engineering, and other fields and strives to collaborate with local universities.

Jordan: Edraak platform

Edraak is an educational platform initiated by the Queen Rania Foundation for Education and Development and announced by edX with an aim to spread lifelong learning across Arabic countries. Edraak provides courses from HarvardX, MITx, edX, and TU Delft both in English and translated into Arabic. Egyptian students represent 26% of enrollment, while Jordanians occupy second place with 12% of the platform’s users.

China: Eduyun

China has established several online learning initiatives supported by the ministries of education and information technology. Their National Cloud Platform for Educational Resources and Public Service, Eduyun, serves millions of users with 24,000 courses. Eduyun has received backing from Chinese tech giants like China Unicom, Baidu, and Huawei to boost internet connectivity nationwide.

Key benefits of online schools and virtual classrooms for education providers and learners

Just uploading courses online and making materials accessible to students from everywhere will not motivate students to learn as much as live communication with peers and teachers does. In comparing online education and face-to-face learning, virtual classrooms become a huge differentiator for learners and educators. The key benefits of online schooling are focused on flexible delivery and alignment with new behavioral patterns of learners.

  • Distance learning overcomes geographical barriers and makes it easier to provide inclusive education.
  • Recording lessons ensures those who missed a class can be on the same page with peers.
  • After setting up virtual classroom tools once, it’s easier to organize the delivery of new courses.
  • Live communication between peers and teachers ensures fast feedback and collaboration.
  • Digitally organized content and student profiles provide a lot of data for analytics.
  • Online training reinforces professional development and onboarding at a global scale.
  • Personalized recommendations increase student retention and interest in learning.
  • MOOCs and online platforms make it easier for trainers to monetize content.
  • Stepping online assists universities and schools with increasing brand awareness.
  • Flexible schedules and asynchronous learning make education accessible for a wider audience.
  • Gamification and a fun approach to courses increases engagement and knowledge retention.

Conclusion

Virtual classroom software is gaining popularity and is being widely adopted across the education sector in different regions for its flexibility, cost efficiency, and emphasis on learners’ needs. The educational market provides ready-to-go virtual classroom solutions. Still, education providers and EdTech companies often turn to custom virtual classroom software development to cover specific needs in regard to technology or audience demands.

Intellias covers full-cycle eLearning software development, establishing cloud infrastructure, implementing artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms, designing intuitive interfaces, and integrating communication tools and other third-party services through APIs.


Contact Intellias eLearning experts to get advice, scale your engineering capacity, and cover your software development needs for a brand-new or already running virtual classroom solution.

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