If you want to teach live online classes, then Zoom is one of the most popular options.
However, Zoom does have some downsides, and it’s worth checking out the best alternatives to Zoom to make sure you choose the right platform for how you want to do your online teaching.
So, what are the top 7 best zoom alternatives for teaching live online classes?
For one-to-one classes, I recommend free options like Skype or Google Hangouts. For instructors with more clients, look into paid options like Demio, WebEx, GoToWebinar, or JetWebinar.
In this article, I’ll explain why it’s time to make the switch to teaching your live classes online. And I’ll go through my top 7 picks for which platforms you should use to do it.
1. Live Streaming
Unlike the other items on this list, live streaming isn’t a specific video conferencing or webinar platform like Zoom. It’s a whole other category of digital communication on its own.
You can choose to livestream through various online platforms like Facebook Live, Twitch.tv, or YouTube. Some software even enables you to stream across multiple platforms at once, to give you an even wider reach.
One huge benefit of live streaming is that it allows you to reach a wider audience besides the students who currently take your class in-person.
Your online class will show up as a recommendation to the millions of random users on these sites, which could significantly grow your audience.
That makes live streaming either a great replacement for your classes altogether, or a way to generate a side income in addition to your regular classes.
You can grow a following of Youtube subscribers or Facebook fans to later market your classes to in the future.
Live streaming allows your students to support you through monthly subscriptions to your livestream. However, there are other ways to monetize a livestream as well.
Or alternatively, you can use third-party platforms like Streamlabs to allow people to donate to your Paypal directly.
Larger livestreamers can eventually get paid sponsorships. You can also use affiliate links and many other ways of monetizing your audience that simply aren’t possible when teaching live classes in person.
Live streaming can be as professional or low-budget as you like. You can start with just your cell phone to stream from. Or you can invest in professional audio, video, and lighting equipment.
Live Streaming is interactive through the use of live chat, but it’s best used for teaching larger classes like an exercise class.
The main downside is that it’s not suited for one-on-one instruction where you need immediate feedback from your students.
Skype has been around since 2003, and it’s still among the most popular video chat tools that are available today.
Chances are pretty good that you’ve already used it to talk to family members or friends from around the world at some point.
It’s a good Zoom alternative for live class instructors who have a smaller group of students. While Skype allows for up to 50 people in a single call, it also limits you to only 250 people on your contact list at a time.
So if you have more than 250 customers, you may want to look at other platforms.
Otherwise, you’ll be constantly at your cap and needing to add or delete people.
As long as all of your students also download Skype, it’s completely free to connect with them to teach live online classes through the platform.
Skype is a great choice if you’re on a budget and just need a basic video presentation or lecture.
The platform offers HD video and crystal clear audio, as long as everyone in the call has a decent internet connection.
You can also use Skype’s instant messaging features to communicate with students between your live classes, hold group chats, and more.
If you just want the basics, then Skype is a great choice.
Although it won’t allow you to do any extras like screen sharing, recording your meetings, enable live captions or subtitles, or other options that are available in more advanced webinar software.
3. Google Hangouts
Google Hangouts is another free option that I think you should consider before looking at paid Webinar software.
Like Skype, Google Hangouts offers a free way to teach live online classes if you find yourself suddenly unable to teach in person. It might be the right choice for you if you prefer Google products.
Hangouts is available on mobile devices, tablets, and computers. So your students can video conference with you anywhere, even if they don’t have a PC at home.
Not only does it include the ability to instant message, call, or text your contacts. But it’s also easy to combine use of it with other Google products.
It’s easy for people to join your Google Hangout by simply clicking a link that you send out. Although they will need a personal Google account to be able to connect.
Most people already have a Gmail account, so this isn’t usually an issue. But it may exclude or inconvenience those who don’t.
Google Hangouts video conferences are limited to 10 participants at a time, including yourself. And there is a 150 user limit for your contact list.
So much like Skype, it’s best suited for smaller businesses and more intimate live online classes.
But it’s a great place to start, and you can always move to another platform as your business grows if it no longer suits your needs.
Now we are starting to get into the more paid and full-featured webinar software.
Demio is among the best Zoom Alternatives for teaching live online classes that’s available today.
Some other webinar platforms have fallen behind the times. They can look and feel a bit outdated. But Demio stays modern and up to date.
Unlike more basic platforms, Demio offers a lot of flexibility. You can make both live and pre-recorded webinars available for your students.
So if someone misses your live class, you can give them the option to go back and watch it later.
If you’re looking for more advanced features, Demio has you covered. You get access to things like call-to-action buttons, the ability to run live polling, sharing documents live, Q&A sessions, and more.
Behind the scenes, Demio also gives you access to an analytics page to see how your webinar s are performing.
If you’re looking for marketing and sales tools to expand your client base, Demio is the webinar platform that I’d most recommend as well. Most other Zoom alternatives on this list lack these features.
Check out this article for a side by side comparison of Demio vs Zoom.
Unlike platforms like Skype or Google Hangouts, your students don’t need to even sign up for any software to participate, and can take part through their web browser.
Demio offers a free 14-day trial, but eventually you will need to pay to keep your access.
The platform has several plans to choose from.
The Starter plan for small businesses and solo entrepreneurs who are just getting started is $34 per month if you pay annually, and allows for up to 50 attendees to your webinar.
Or you can go all the way up to the $163 per month Business plan for growing companies who need 500 attendees and up to 4 webinar hosts.
Right now, Demio is offering 50% off any of their plans due to COVID-19 for any educational institutions or nonprofit organizations.
Cisco WebEx is another full-featured webinar software that you may want to consider for teaching your live online classes as an alternative to Zoom.
While WebEx lacks any kind of marketing features, it’s great for holding online meetings, screen sharing, webinars, and video conferencing.
But if you already have an existing group of clients, then marketing your webinar is perhaps not a big concern for you, as much as serving your existing clients.
You can get started with a free WebEx plan. They have recently increased many features of their platform to support people as a result of coronavirus.
You can now host free webinars for up to 100 participants (up from 50.) Your live online classes can be as long as you want, as opposed to a previous 40 minute limit on their free plan.
There is also the possibility for call-in audio in addition to existing VOIP capabilities.
As always, you can host an unlimited number of classes per month, and take advantage of a number of desktop, application, file, and whiteboard sharing options. There are even mobile screen sharing options available.
WebEx uses 256-bit encryption, and the ability to lock and unlock your webinar rooms.
So you can be confident that any confidential information in your meetings will be kept secure. Even recorded storage is kept fully encrypted.
If you need more than what their free plan has to offer, WebEx has other options.
Their Starter plan is $13.50 per month. And plans go all the way up to their Business plan for $26.95 per month which allows up to 200 participants at once, 10 GB of cloud storage, branding and customizations, and more.
GoToWebinar is another solid Zoom alternative. In the past, it has lacked some of the features that you’d get from other platforms on this list like Demio.
But the platform has recently been completely redesigned, from how it works to the way that it looks. So the future looks promising for GoToWebinar.
While GoToWebinar has a lot of features, it is a bit more pricy than some of the other alternatives on this list.
Their starter plan offers up to 100 participants at once, but at a cost of $104 per month. Although you do get a lot of extras with that including:
- Custom registration pages
- Automated emails
- Reporting and analytics
- Polls, handouts, and Q&A
- The ability to accept payments
- VOIP, Phone, and Toll Free
- Online and local recording
Their Plus plan is a whopping $539 per month, but it allows up to 1,000 participants in a single call.
In addition to the features listed above, it includes a lot of extras like a custom URL, certificates, transcripts, a video editor, and more.
While the cost of GoToWebinar is most likely prohibitive to small local businesses, it might be a Zoom alternative to keep in your back pocket.
But for larger businesses who want to regularly teach live online classes to hundreds of people at a time, it’s a great option.
JetWebinar’s silver plan costs $63 per month and allows you to hold live online classes for up to 100 people at once. Their highest platinum plan costs $397 per month and allows for up to 2,000 attendees at a time.
All of JetWebinar’s plans also have the option of 3 on-demand webinars running at any given time.
These webinars have no maximum number of attendees, and you can schedule recurring webinar events to run hourly.
The platform offers a lot of unique features you won’t find in any platform. For example, a drag and drop page builder that allows you to fully customize your webinar pages.
Plus automated reminders and follow-up emails, as well as emails to people who don’t attend or abandon your webinar early.
JetWebinar integrates with Google Analytics, third party autoresponder programs, and more. Plus you can even export your attendee list.
But what’s most impressive about JetWebinar to me is how it seems to be virtually lag-free.
With some other webinar platforms I’ve used in the past, you might experience a lag of up to 10 seconds between when someone types in the chat and when you see it.
But with JetWebinar, the response is almost instant. That might seem like a minor detail. But when you’re constantly trying to communicate with what people said 10 seconds ago, it can become an annoyance.
While JetWebinar might not look as slick as some of the most modern platforms like Demio, it has some of the most powerful features available in terms of keeping your audience engaged and getting them to actually attend your online classes.
So if you have the budget for it, I’d test the platform out using their free 30 day trial.
Why Teach Live Online Classes?
At the time of writing this, COVID-19 is still a pandemic that’s having a massive economic impact on the world.
Teachers and instructors of all kinds have been largely caught off guard. Most have had their income slashed, or eliminated entirely if they relied exclusively on teaching in-person classes.
If you teach live in-person classes and you’re currently struggling, now is the time to start teaching your classes online.
Online classes give you a way to reclaim some of your lost income and continue providing your services, even in this current climate of social distancing and isolation.
In fact, some class instructors who have made the switch are actually thriving. Teaching your class online has a bunch of benefits:
- you aren’t limited to just your local area
- your online classes have a global reach
- you can have hundreds or thousands of people in your class at one time
If you’re reading this article a few years from now when the coronavirus has largely blown over, please take a chance to learn from our past mistakes.
Class instructors from around the world have seen their income brought to a halt.
Even if things are going well right now, there’s no better time to get a backup plan in place.
That way if any sort of emergency or pandemic were to happen again, you’d be ready to continue teaching your classes online with minimal disruption.
Here are some platforms to consider to bring your live classes into an online environment.
Conclusion: Which Is The Best Zoom Alternative?
As you can see from the range of other options out there, there is no absolute best alternative to Zoom, as it really depends on your situation, budget, class size and what features you particularly want.
However, if I had to chose one of these alternatives that most closely matched what Zoom offers, it’d probably be Demio which has a really nice user interface as well (much better than Zoom’s actually!).
Recent times have taught us that if you’re a non-essential business that operates entirely in-person, you’re at risk when it comes to things like coronavirus.
Governments can enact new rules almost overnight which can temporarily shut your business down for months.
If you’re currently teaching classes in-person, it’s time to start looking for alternatives that will allow you to teach live classes online.
If you want to really transition to the world of online teaching, you may want to start thinking about creating an online course as a more permanent, sustainable business model for sharing your knowledge with the world.
Check out our free guide below for more info on how to get started if you’re interested in doing this.
Also, check out our guide to the best online course platforms if you’re looking for something you can build an online course business on.