Coming together of the Internet and learning has revolutionized education delivery. The Indian e-learning industry is estimated to be at a whopping $3 billion by the end of 2015. With a rapid increase in mobile and Internet penetration, India is steadily moving towards becoming one of the largest consumers of online education. Newer ways of imparting education, such as VSAT and Virtual Classroom have become game changers. These technology solutions are facilitating learning anytime, anywhere.
Online education has offered immense possibilities to learners and an unprecedented reach to educators. When it comes to live learning, many educators are still undecided while choosing the right education delivery platform. The two available options – VSAT and Virtual Classroom – seem to be promising. Let’s deep dive into these platforms by comparing the WizIQ Virtual Classroom, the awardwinning online classroom, with VSAT based on a set of parameters and find out the best option for educators.
Ease of use & Maintenance
To impart learning through VSAT, an educator has to set up the complete VSAT system which includes, learning centres, the Hub Earth Station, a studio for teachers to deliver classes from, servers for data, dish antenna above classrooms for reception and a few more technical things. Sounds a little complicated? Yes, this might be too much to handle for an uninitiated educator.
To deliver learning through the WizIQ Virtual Classroom, all you need is a device (desktop, laptop, mobile phone, Android tablet or iPad) and an Internet connection. You don’t need to go through the tedious process of setting up things. You can start using the Virtual Classroom right away.
VSAT requires technical support and high maintenance for elaborate and expensive infrastructure. With the WizIQ Virtual Classroom, you can breathe easy. It is practically a zero-maintenance platform and comes with round-the-clock technical support provided by a team of trained professionals.
The initial cost of setting up a VSAT system is much higher as compared to the WizIQ Virtual Classroom. You can simply subscribe to a Virtual Classroom plan based on your teaching needs. Your total cost of ownership (TCO) is restricted to your subscription plan. Moreover, the subscription plans are flexible, which allow you to make an investment depending on the size of your teaching business.
The cost of maintaining the VSAT equipment is high. The setup and maintenance costs are not affordable for individual educators and mid-level education service providers. The WizIQ Virtual Classroom clearly emerges as a viable and cost-effective solution for educators.
Quality of Communication
Live, online learning relies heavily on data transmission for high-quality communication. Since, educator and learners are at different locations, any fluctuations or instability in transmitting data can hamper the learning experience.
VSAT system provides a stable transmission via satellite. However, only oneway transmission is possible through VSAT. Learners can only listen to the lecture delivered via radio or TV. Real learning happens when both educator and learners can communicate freely and instantly without any restrictions.
The WizIQ Virtual Classroom makes two-way communication possible between educator and learners. It offers 6-way video and unlimited audio streaming, enabling educator and learners to view and hear each other. Audio and video communication can happen even on low Internet bandwidth. Class participants have an option of switching to the audio mode if the Internet connection is very slow. However, two-way communication is still maintained, which makes the live class interactive.
Reach & Flexibility
The Virtual Classroom lets educator and learners collaborate in real time anytime, anywhere, even from the comfort of their homes and offices. Just log in to your computer and launch the Virtual Classroom to learn or teach instantly.
However, there are a few challenges with VSAT, including:
- Teachers need to travel to a studio to deliver classes.
- Learners need to be present at one place where dish antenna is installed to receive transmission.
- Currently, education delivery through VSAT technology is restricted to only Indian citizens. This is a big drawback as online education is about global reach.
According to a recent study, India has approximately 213 million mobile Internet users. More and more content is being consumed by people on their mobile devices. Mobile learning is surely becoming popular among learners. The WizIQ Virtual Classroom allows learners to attend live classes on mobile devices, such as iPhone, iPad, and Android tablets using WizIQ Apps for iOS and Android. Learners can learn on the go without feeling the need to be confined to a certain place for learning. Mobile learning has a strong potential to be the future of online education.
VSAT doesn’t support mobile learning. It allows educators to deliver learning through radio and TV only. This is a limitation that can snowball into a serious challenge as more people start preferring mobile devices over any other medium.
The Final Word
In conclusion, the Virtual Classroom offers obvious benefits to educators in terms of cost-effectiveness, ease of use, and flexibility, among other things. VSAT has proved to be successful in providing education to learners in the rural areas of India. However, when you consider online education in the present day context, it presents quite a few limitations, with respect to high setup and maintenance costs, and limited reach and feature set, to say the least. The ideal solution for educators and educational institutions to deliver live, online learning is the Virtual Classroom which is built using the cutting-edge technology and offers a wide range of features. Moreover, it allows educators and educational institutions to reach out to learners across geographies and be truly global.