Fixing the Integration Gap Between LMS and Video Conferencing Improves the Online Instruction Experience
Integrating video conferencing and learning management systems is the key to success for California’s 115 community colleges
One of the barriers to successful completion of online courses is the lack of face-to-face interaction that students have with the instructor and their peers. Video conferencing can help bridge this gap, but the inability to schedule or launch conferences and invite students to participate from within the learning management system (LMS) itself makes the process cumbersome, discouraging many instructors from even trying.
California’s community college system has found a solution to this problem. The state, via CCC TechConnect, has partnered with a technology provider called CirQlive to make audio and video conferences through its conferencing platform fully integrated into the LMS the college is using.
The ability to schedule conferences and invite participants directly within the LMS, with no additional steps needed, has made the process simple for instructors—which has led to more frequent use of the TechConnect platform for instruction.
As a state-funded initiative, CCC TechConnect has been providing online classrooms and meeting rooms for California’s community colleges since 2001. The system includes high-quality audio and video conferencing using the Zoom conferencing platform, as well as screen sharing, recording, live closed captioning, and automatic transcription services.
All instructors and administrators at California Community Colleges are given a Pro account, which includes an unlimited number of minutes for online meetings with up to 100 simultaneous attendees. If instructors need to reach more than 100 people simultaneously, they can contact TechConnect’s program administrators for an accommodation.
TechConnect’s product is used for online teaching, meetings, virtual office hours, and even professional development and has been successful for many years as a stand-alone service. Recently and with technological advancements came the ability for TechConnect to identify the need for instructors to have an easy way to schedule a session and invite students to participate from within the same LMS environment they use for their online courses.
Without integration between the conferencing system and the LMS, instructors had to set up a meeting within TechConnect, copy the meeting link, and then send it to their class roster through the LMS. When the session was over, they would have to export the link to the session recording from TechConnect and upload it to the LMS, so that students who couldn’t attend the live meeting could access the recorded version alongside their other course materials.
Because this process was not intuitive, TechConnect researched and found a partner in CirQlive to develop a more streamlined solution.
CirQlive binds together a web conferencing system and an LMS. It works with all major web conferencing platforms on the market, including not only Zoom but also WebEx, GoToMeeting, and BlueJeans—as well as any LMS that uses the Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) framework.
Most community colleges in California use the Canvas LMS from Instructure. With the aid of CirQlive, instructors can now schedule a video conferencing session right from their course page in Canvas. CirQlive does the heavy lifting of integrating the web conferencing system and the LMS, so that all students can see the scheduled session and have access to it without needing an invitation.
And once the meeting is over, CirQlive automatically gives students access to the recording via a secure link within the LMS. Having this link is critical, because many students like to go back and watch the session again if they are struggling to understand a concept.
Since program administrators with the help of CirQlive simplified the use of TechConnect’s product, usage of the state’s web and video conferencing system has soared—and instructors are connecting more easily with their students online in much more rich and meaningful ways.
About the Author
Dennis Pierce is a freelance writer with 20 years of experience covering education and technology. Follow him on Twitter: @denniswpierce.
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