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Recommended Best Free Educational Tools and Tips for Online Classes

In the midst of Lockdown, all the educational institutions are compelled to initiate the teaching-learning approaches through online mediums, may be, WhatsApp, Video Conferencing app, Facebook, YouTube and other educational apps developed by the governments. All the students are also accustomed to learn through online classes apart from social media. Despite of having mobile phones and computers in their hands, most of them are not comfortable with online classes. The reasons may be varied from one person to another but almost all of them are not well knowledgeized with ease of technology. On the top of that, to study on mobile phones or computers may add more difficulties, which are being faced by teachers, students and parents too. However, there is a saying, “Every cloud has a silver lining.” It may be an opportunity for them to initiate in order to digitize the education in a jiffy. Possibly, in future, the education can be imparted totally through digital mediums.

What are the materials required for online classes before you go on live?

1 Basic tools and apps to connect with students
2 Presentation or Teaching Materials; Whiteboards, Books, video, pdf, etc.
3 Management of extended learning or assignment
4 Correction and Review of extended learning or assignment
5 Online Attendance: How to take attendance
6 Test and exam
7 Result of Performance

I recommend all these steps for the teachers who are teaching students from classes VIII to XII or college students. And online classes are not recommended for the students at the age of 13 and below.

1 Basic tools and apps to connect with students

a) Smart Phone and computer:- A Smart Phone is very necessary in order to have Online Classes. If you have a computer can add ease of technology for online classes but not necessary as a smart phone. If you have a DSNL Camera can add flavours in recording videos but you can use phone or computer camera, instead.

b) Apps or software: There are various apps and software available on the internet that may be free or paid versions. It is far better if you can afford to use paid version but just for working or engaging in the Lockdown with students you use can free version of some apps.

i) Video Calling Apps: Skype (free), Skype for Business (paid), Zoom (free/paid), Microsoft Team (free), Google Meet (free), Google Hangouts (free), etc. I’m using Skype for online classes as I have small number of students. Skype is very secure than Zoom app but it supports only 50 members at a time with unlimited duration where Zoom offers 100 participants with 40 minutes. It can be accessed on Computer and mobile devices which is quite similar to WhatsApp. Interesting feature of Skype is group video calls, group chats, screen sharing, private chats and calls, sharing any documents and images, files, documents can be stored online with OneDrive which makes free up phone storage.

ii) WhatsApp: It is one of the mobile apps that you can’t ignore. Through this app, you can contact your students and share notes. You can use Skype if wish instead of WhatsApp for sharing notes, voice notes, audio recordings and videos.

iii) Whiteboard Software: Jamboard (free), Openboard (free) or Skype Whiteboard (available with Skype for Business). But alternative to this, you can use Paint Tool in Computer and CB Draw: Paint Tool or any paint tool for android phones. Basically, virtual whiteboard is required when you explain something to any chapter or topics. Or you can also use real Whiteboard if you have the whiteboard at home.

iv) Google Forms: Google Forms is one of my favourite forms that can be used for multiple purposes like online registration, online test and exam, online attendance and so on. And another my favourite form is Microsoft Forms that it is very similar to Google Forms but it has unique feature, which allows you to set time-expiration or time limit for forms; which is required for online test and exam that you cannot get in Google Forms. If you want readymade template for online attendance you can use Sheetgo, Timecamp, Clokify but they are not free. So, I recommend use either Google Forms or Microsoft Forms. There are some partially free apps like classmarker, ispringsolutions, typeform, etc. Both of them can be accessed in computer and mobile devices without paying a single rupee.

v) Google Classroom: Google Classroom is not necessary for everyone, however, I found it better than WhatsApp for receiving homework, assignments or any given task. It also doesn’t make your phone memory full because it saves all the files online. And its unique feature is that you can give a same topic to all the students in a group but their responses are recorded individually. Where WhatsApp Group doesn’t allow such feature that you will have to request the students to send answers or responses personally. And basically, I have seen a thousand of images receiving every day in a WhatsApp group which is a little bit irritating to delete and free up phone memory frequently. This feature is not available in Skype; however, you can use Skype as WhatsApp if you don’t want to use Google Classroom. Your students can submit their assignments personally instead of your group and doesn’t occupy your phone memory.

vi) YouTube/Facebook Page: If you are planning to teach your students through pre-recorded videos, you can use this platform either YouTube or Facebook Page but do not use personal account of Facebook.

vii) CamSanner App: CamSanner is really helpful who does have Photocopying machine at home. It acts as Xerox machine and PDF Creator. It may be required for scanning books and making PDFs.

viii) Microsoft word/WPS office: It is required for writing notes, summary of stories and so on, which can help your students. The apps can be installed on computer and mobile devices as well.

ix) Internet Connection: You can use phone internet for online classes. If you have broadband that would be better but not necessary.  Your phone internet can be shared through mobile hotspot, Bluetooth Tethering and USB Tethering if you are using computer and required internet connection.

2 Presentation or Teaching Materials; Whiteboards, Books, video, pdf, etc.

If you have accessed of a smart phone and computer and good internet connection, you can go on live for online classes using Skype, Zoom or any Video Conferencing apps as the mentioned above no.1. You can do screen sharing and showing textbooks on screen by scanning books using CamSanner. You can set timetable as per the convenient of you and your students for online classes. However, if you have good internet connections, you can teach through audio recordings by sharing on WhatsApp or uploading pre-recorded videos on YouTube and Facebook.

3 Management of extended learning or assignment

Write down the assignments or homework in Microsoft Word or WPS that you want to give your students. And after that, you can use Skype, Google Classroom and WhatsApp for sending and receiving assignments or homework.

4 Correction and Review of extended learning or assignments

In computer, you can use Paint Tools or Photoshop for correcting the received assignments. 

In mobile phone, you can edit from Photo Gallery, WhatsApp, CB Draw: Paint Tool or any other Paint Tools. For marking right or wrong, use pencil tool or brush and select colour and make do correction wherever necessary. For writing you can use Text Tools both in Computer and Mobile devices.

5 Online Attendance: How to take attendance

Unfortunately, there are no free apps available but if you google you may get some free apps, which are not completely free. It may charge some amount after expiring the free trials. If you are using paid version of Skype for Business, Zooms or any video conferencing apps, the attendance feature is attached with. And you can also use Sheetgo for online attendances but it is not free. But for free of cost, you can use Google Forms or Microsoft Forms but you need to create it manually. And best way of taking attendance is you can manually write on your copy or you use an attendance register.

6 Test and exam

There are many website and apps that let you conduct online Tests and Exams for your students. But most of them are not free completely. So, I recommend Google Forms and Microsoft Forms which are completely free of cost you can use to conduct online Tests and Exams.

7 Result of Performance

For declaring result of performance of your students, you can prepare by writing on Microsoft Word or WPS and then you can manually inform and share through WhatsApp, Skype and Google Classroom.
I hope this information can be useful and helpful for taking online classes to our teachers. And I didn’t mention any one of them that how to use because this blog post may be longer and boring to read, so, I just highlighted the use of apps only. There are a million of videos over the YouTube that can guide you how to use each app. Please go to YouTube and learn to learn use.

Kindly share your experiences and tips of online classes on the comment wall that can be helpful for other teachers.

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  1. Milan Setu App is also there for free.
    It's difficult for Teachers to Teach online classes for rural students,.

    1. Yeah, it is really difficult to teach students through online classes. Basically, most of them have no smart phone and they are using keypad phone which cannot be used for online classes and their parents also may not take appropriate initiatives. However, you can do possible steps like giving printed handouts to individual students or through whatsapp, you can share notes, it may be helpful for them upto some extend.


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