24/04/2020

New Features April 2020

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Virtual Class and Microsoft Teams

In this blog we will focus on our new Virtual Class functionality, both standalone and how it can be integrated with Microsoft Teams.
With so many educators working from home/remotely we thought it would be useful to bring this development forward to help with our customers’ distance learning needs.
Considerations - when considering remote learning to groups of pupils it is important to decide what experience you want to deliver:

  • Audio only
  • Screencast & Audio
  • Screencast, webcam & Audio
  • Existing media (TV recordings and pre-prepared media content)
  • Single way communication
  • Multiple communication

We made the decision to enable the use of live video (camera or screencast) and audio feeds or existing media content. For communication with your students, we have created a chat dialogue box which class attendees interact, discuss and ask questions. The final, and extremely important consideration, was the ability to embed your Virtual Class into your chosen learning platform - making distributing and accessing your Virtual Class simple.


Live Virtual Classes

When using Live Mode, the system uses a combination of a Planet eStream Live Stream (using the Live Encoder Application) and the new Virtual Class functionality. The benefit of this is that the student will see both screen activity, including video playback, and hear the teacher speak live - mimicking a classroom situation. The teacher also has the option to include their webcam. The built-in dialogue box provides attendees with a simple mechanism to interact and ask questions. This is a much more controlled format than allowing all attendees to speak, particularly when working with larger groups of students


Live Stream Generated by Live Encoder Application

Virtual Class - Attendees View


Video On-Demand Virtual Classes

There are occasions when a teacher/lecturer would like to make existing content available with the chat dialogue box while keeping control of the media. For example, if the teacher chooses to navigate to a particular scene within a video, the students’ video will also navigate to the same scene, making sure everyone sees the correct section of the video at the same time. The platform will also log student attendees and chat messages with user details.


Scheduled Virtual Classes

The Virtual Classroom functionality also allows scheduling of lessons, which can be very useful as it provides structure as opposed to simply delivering the content ad-hoc. When creating the lesson, the teacher can invite students who they would like to attend the class. Students will then receive an email with the class information and joining links.


Integration & Authentication

The Virtual Class functionality is designed so it can be integrated directly into any HTML web page using an embed code; this makes adding a Virtual Class to your chosen learning platform very simple. When the users navigate to the embedded Virtual Class they will be authenticated via your chosen authentication method including SSO.


Virtual Classes & Microsoft Teams

Search & Create

Our new Teams App* allows users to search their Planet eStream media library from within Teams; content can then easily be shared with the Team of their choice via direct links/cards.


Virtual Class in Teams

Although the Virtual Classes can be embedded into any learning platform, the growing popularity of Teams opens up new possibilities when creating and sharing a Virtual Class. We have therefore included functionality in the new app which caters for setting up and sharing a Virtual Class within the Teams interface.

You can create a Virtual Class within Teams and invite Team Members automatically; they will then receive email confirmation containing the joining details of the Virtual Class. The media content included can be either pre-recorded media or live broadcasts from your Planet eStream platform.

*Please note - the Microsoft Teams App is only available to Planet eStream Cloud Platform customers and will be available soon