On-line platforms for E-learning Review

While Distance Learning courses mirror the format and quality of instruction in our traditional classrooms, this method of instruction may not be appropriate for everyone. To be honest, I found it quite easy to adjust academically to our new quarantine online-learning life, even though it was difficult from the physical point of view as I spent approximately 11-12 hours a day in front of a laptop screen. Zoom and Skype were two platforms which we used during our e-learning studies at University and made our life a bit easier. 

Zoom is no ordinary video communication platform. It’s a cloud-based innovative technology that houses a full spectrum of modern conferencing tools. It comes with breakout sessions, which our tutors used in order  to split us into small groups of 2 or 3 to discuss something related to our lesson and to share our opinion with others. With Zoom, the organiser has the power to fully control the meeting. You can mute all microphones, control attendees’ presentation access and so on. Moreover, this tool allows attendees to contribute to the conversation by virtually raising their hands. Zoom’s chat utility also lets viewers directly communicate with the instructor and other attendees, ensuring a collaborative classroom setting. However, Zoom has some disadvantages. It is sometimes the poor, unpredictable video quality. Video on Zoom is occasionally blurry and pixelated.

The other platform we used frequently was Skype. It proved to be useful as we could communicate via instant messaging, screen sharing, file sharing, as well as informal video or audio calls right from our PC/phone. It is effective, direct and everybody was already familiar with it (compared to Zoom which was something new and unexpected for our teachers and us, but the students were able to get acquainted with the platform quite fast). Like Zoom, Skype’s chat interface allows users to send quick messages to other users. The chat is made in a nice way so everything appears on the screen instantly and you are able to see everything clearly. Users can effortlessly integrate video with audio right from their chat windows. In a nutshell, Skype is a great platform for instant messaging, document sharing, screen sharing and informal-based video or audio calls. Despite having better video and audio than Zoom, Skype has technical hiccups that prevent it from reaching its full potential.

 The biggest challenge when considering Zoom vs. Skype is that they are both very powerful communication channels. Choosing between the two can be tricky since both are cost-effective and efficient. By definition, Zoom is a video conferencing based software that was designed to promote collaboration via an innovative integrated system featuring web conference, group messaging and online meetings. On the other hand, Skype is a software application, which comes with powerful text, voice and video tools, providing users with a simple way to share experiences with others, no matter their location.

To conclude, some students enjoy the independence of distance learning and different apps that help them with this kind of learning, while others find the independence uncomfortable and prefer to be part of a traditional classroom.  Moreover, online platforms offer greater scheduling options for students, but they require more self-discipline than traditional studies. Anyhow the platforms allowed us to finish the academic year successfully, even in the circumstances of lock down. So, I really appreciate the opportunity they provide for academic studies at University.