Online Classrooms

Posted by Natasa Brouwer, on Oct. 5, 2021, 3:04 p.m.


An online classroom is essentially a virtual classroom which enables the delivery of synchronous events online. They are used to enable students studying at a distance (using a laptop or tablet, or even their phone) to engage in live events such as lectures, tutorials or even workshops, with their tutor(s) and other students. 

These are not just a video of a lecture not are they the same as online courses and MOOCs where students study materials online independently, collaborating asynchronously via forums/chat, although they may well be an integral part of one. Sessions are likely to be timetabled and accessed via a VLE. 

These classrooms offer more than more straightforward web-conferencing. A number of different packages are available but the majority have separate windows/panels to display:

  • List of participants
  • Webcam
  • Main whiteboard area
  • Chat area


At its simplest, the tutor can upload a presentation and deliver a conventional lecture or presentation, but these classrooms can offer so much more with a wide range of tools available such as:

  • Polls
  • Application sharing (eg video, software)
  • Web tours 
  • Multiple speakers
  • Break out rooms
  • File transfer

During a session students are able to:

  • interact with the material on the whiteboard with a set of text/drawing tools;
  • vote during polls or use emoticons/hands up to ask a question;
  • address questions/comments to the tutor or other students via the chat box;
  • move to separate rooms to work through problems;
  • download the whiteboard at the end of the session;
  • share their own desktop/applications with the rest of the class.

As well as upload presentations the tutor can:

  • share desktop/applications with the class and even handover control to a student to run an application that they do not have on their own computer;
  • create a range of different polls, hide/show the votes during the poll, display the results on the whiteboard;
  • enable students to explore a website from within the classroom application together or independently and then bring them back together;
  • distribute (and call back) students into breakout sessions;
  • set a timer for particular tasks;
  • transfer files to students during the event.

The session can be recorded providing access to those students who are unable to attend or those who would like to revisit a session for revision purposes. Classrooms can also be used by students for self-help sessions, for group work as well as live student presentations or asynchronously by tutors/students as a quick means to record a presentation. Software to enable tutors to plan their sessions is also available.

A quick internet search reveals a number of different platforms, many of which are also used for online meetings and conferences. A few examples of the many examples are given below:

Blackboard collaborate -

Adobe connect -

WixIQ -

e-lecta -

Original author: Eleanor Crabb
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