Compare Video Conferencing Platforms for Teachers

This was written by Terry Smith in December 2013, so its pretty much up to date at the time of publishing (February 2014).

Thanks go Terry for permission to publish this great resource here!

Please post your comments and add your experiences, especially if you use a different platform that’s not mentioned here like Google Hangouts.

You can contact Terry here:
www.applegatemusicstudio.com


 

Compare Video Conferencing Platforms for Teachers

I have been teaching piano and general music online for several years using various online platforms. There are many available to teachers of all subjects and each have their own unique features and pricing. Here is a breakdown of a few notable ones I have found in my considerable research and/or use on a regular basis. Review with the following assumptions in mind:

  • This is a rapidly changing industry. Any claims made here are only true at the time of this writing.
  • When I research an online learning platform, I look for very specific criteria. These include video/audio quality, ability to switch between two cameras, a message forum, screen share, and a place to upload/store documents. If a system does not have at least some of these, I pass it up.
  • There are many options available and I’m sure more are coming in the future. This is far from a complete list. I discovered these by many searches on “online learning platforms” and “online music teaching.”

 

Name/Web Address The Good The Not-So-Good Other Comments
skype.com • Good video/audio quality • Screen share is only a premium feature

• No file upload/message forum

• No calender features

I feel compelled to list Skype though it would be my last choice for a learning platform.

Free and premium pricing.

oovoo..com • Good video/audio quality

• You can embed the platform in your own website

• Screen share is only a premium feature

• No file upload/message forum

• No calender features

Basically, same as Skype but allows up to 3 people online simultaneously on the free plan.

Free and premium pricing.

webex.com • Good quality and easy to use

• This system from Cisco has been around for many years

• Set up a web page for each students for messages, files, etc

• You can have up to 3 students on their free subscription

• No calendar features

• Some problems with Windows 8

Good choice for one-on-one (or up to 3).

I had some compatibility issues however.

Free and premium pricing.

wiziq.com • Stable system

• Free and premium level accounts

• Set class dates/times as well as recurring classes/lessons. Payments can be handled automatically

• Includes electronic whiteboard, audio/video player, chat and other
helpful features

• You can also set up self- running
courses with videos, documents and occasional live sessions

• Switching cameras is fairly easy

• Though you can do classes for free, screen share is a premium feature My main choice for now. A great platform, especially for classes or groups. My online music classes for a PA charter school work well here. For my one-on-one lessons, it’s a bit of overkill but it works.

Free and premium subscriptions
available.

They WILL make deals if you can pay 6 months or a year in advance.

betterfly.com • Includes online video conferencing platform, however, I haven’t yet used it   System for teaching any subject. I’ve
registered but haven’t tried a lesson yet. Seems to be okay.
thezoen.com • Set your own calendar availability

• Payments can be handled automatically

• Switching cameras is a pain and can produce connectivity issues

• No screen sharing

• Has basic message forum but no file

Created especially for music teachers.

No monthly fees but they take a cut from your lesson charges.

They are responsive to problems but the disadvantages were too much for me.

livemusictutor.com • Basically meets all my criteria (I’ll get back to you) Also for music teachers. I’m just now applying for this but it looks like it will be good. We’ll see.

 

Terry Smith, December 2013
www.applegatemusicstudio.com


February 1, 2014
Comments
  1. carloscap said on February 10, 2014 12:08 pm:

    Thanks for the advice friend Terry
    I teach singing and piano in Spanish online so long
    I have always handled with free Skype platform but actually in many instances (perhaps also depend on the time of connexion, i dont know) that the connection of audio and video is pretty bad
    That’s why I was trying to find any other possibility
    I appreciate all your recommendations

    Best Regards

    CARLOS GUIDO
    Canto-Piano
    http://www.carlosguido.com.ar
    info@carlosguido.com.ar

    ———————————————————————
    Gracias por las recomendaciones amigo Terry
    Yo doy clases de canto y de piano de manera online y en español desde hace tiempo
    Siempre me he manejado con la plataforma Skype gratuita aunque realmente en muchos momentos (quiza dependera tambien de la hora de coneccion , no lo se) que la coneccion de audio y video es bastante mala
    Es por eso que estaba intentando buscar alguna otra posibilidad
    Te agradezco mucho tus recomendaciones

    Besta Regards

    CARLOS GUIDO
    Canto-Piano
    http://www.carlosguido.com.ar
    info@carlosguido.com.ar

  2. tsmusician said on February 10, 2014 4:43 pm:

    Thanks. Some late-breaking news on a couple of these platforms.

    * wiziq.com no longer offers ongoing free accounts for instructors. They do, however, offer a free trial (and they will make deals with you on premium accounts).

    * betterfly.com was just purchased by takelessons.com. How they will combine things remains to be seen but it could be promising. My betterfly account has already been migrated to takelessons.com and I noticed that instructors can be noted as both “in person” and “online” teachers on their site.

    Best of luck.
    Terry Smith; http://www.applegatemusicstudio.com

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