Consider a virtual classroom set up: The teacher prepares an engaging lesson incorporating diverse content. Students log in, eager to learn and enjoy the spontaneous interaction that makes school interesting. At least this is how we envision virtual learning to be.
However, reality can be very different. There are several problems likely to emerge. The teacher uses a whiteboard, but the illustrations lag, appearing several seconds later. Students ask questions but in addition to latency they see jittery screens and frame freezes that impact the flow of the instruction, quality of group discussion and overall teaching and learning efficiency.
Why Synchronization Matters and How to Attain It
A virtual classroom is a demanding use case for real-time engagement (RTE) due to large number of participants and dispersed locations. In a virtual interactive setting, teachers and students need to maintain the same level of interactivity as in-person learning. If an educator’s plans are foiled by technology, administrators will quickly reject the platform as inadequate. Once a developer’s solution gets a reputation for out-of-sync components, its customer base will evaporate quickly.
Effective online learning depends on an experience that’s always in sync—without distracting lags across audio, video, chat, whiteboard, file sharing, and other components.
That’s why synchronization is a mission-critical priority for a virtual classroom solution. Just as with teachers themselves, an effective virtual classroom depends on the quality of the experience you present—and if your components are out-of-sync, your platform will be unusable.
Best-of-Breed Virtual Classroom Components—All from a Single Source
With Agora, developers can deliver the full range of virtual classroom capabilities at the best available quality—without the synchronization issues of a multi-vendor strategy. Agora’s features that make it the preferred solution include:
- Audio – Quality video and smooth, uninterrupted 48kHz sampling up to 192 kbps bitrate brings participants face-to-face from anywhere, on any device.
- Video – Advanced in-house algorithms provide adaptive resolution from 96p to 1080p to guarantee better video quality using less bandwidth.
- Chat – Chat and signaling with ultra-low latency and high concurrency provides additional opportunities for classroom interaction. Offline caching lets students and teachers access messages even when disconnected.
- Whiteboard – Teachers can add display content and offer interactive engagement and communication through rich tools such as text editors, Float Bar, graphics tools, shapes, laser pointers, and hand tools.
- File sharing – Dynamic file sharing enables teachers and students to exchange documents easily in the flow of a session, including instructional content, student in-class and homework assignments, and more.
- Recording – Virtual classroom streams can be saved in cloud or local storage. Sessions can also be recorded in advance for students to view or listen to at their convenience.
Each Agora component benefits from exceptional performance and availability in any connectivity scenario, on any device. Whiteboard is complemented by ultra-low transmission latency via the fully dedicated Agora Software-Defined Real-Time Network (SD-RTN™). A quality monitoring system can detect instability in real-time, automatically eliminate errors, adjust servers with poor quality, and optimize the network to maintain latency well below 400ms, the established industry standard for an acceptable user experience.
Agora has more than 200 data centers around the world for consistent coverage across locations. Virtual classroom participants in any location are close enough to an Agora points of presence (POP) to connect to the network with the low latency, fast data transmission, and high performance needed for a great experience.
These solutions are also optimized to handle massive numbers of concurrent real-time connections. The flexible flat distributed design of the Agora SD-RTN™ makes it possible to add server capacity quickly and seamlessly at the local data center, or connect additional data centers at the continent level, to expand bandwidth quickly.
Virtual Classrooms Here to Stay
Agora enables virtual classroom developers to quickly implement an interactive instruction product within their own platform. To learn more about how to keep your virtual classroom in sync, and position your business to thrive in the new world of online education, check out Agora’s latest whitepaper. Designed to go live in a short timeframe, this helps companies quickly capture fast-moving virtual classroom opportunities. Companies developing learning management systems, massive open online courses (MOOCs), tutoring solutions, language training programs, and other virtual learning products can focus on business development without having to master the complex logic of real-time engagement.
By building your solution to deliver the full range of real-time engagement capabilities instructors and students depend on, with the closely synchronized experience needed for effective learning, you can position your business to thrive in the new world of online education.