Virtual Classroom updates - May 2021

 We've made some changes to the Virtual Classroom.

Following on from our changes made in February, and to make it faster and simpler for teachers to access the two most commonly used features, Content Library & Screen share, we've added buttons to the bottom right of the classroom and removed access from the settings on the right:

Don't forget, you can drag and drop files onto the whiteboard, as well as to the new file uploader available on the bottom-right of the class:

Happy teaching!

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LearnCube Advanced Chat Feature: Edit, Delete, Translate

Every made a mistake writing in the chat? 

It’s not uncommon at all for people to accidentally write something with a mistake or accidental meaning but the LearnCube chat section of the virtual classroom has just got a lot smarter. 

Just hover over the written text in the chat and you will see three new options: 

  1. Edit 
  2. Delete 
  3. Translate 

To Edit, simply hover over the chat you want to modify and click the Edit icon.

When you have edited a text, it will show as (edited) in brackets.

When you delete a chat, it will show as Message Deleted just in case a student writes something inappropriate in the chat and pretends that he (let's be honest, it's probably going to be a teenage boy) didn't write anything.

However, you'll love the LearnCube Chat Instant Translate feature.

LearnCube Chat Instant Translate

If you have ever had to teach a language, particularly to a beginner, you will sometimes find it difficult to explain instructions or find students get really frustrated when they don't understand what you are saying.

Now you, as a teacher, or your students can simply hover over a chat message, choose the target language and translate.

The chat message can be translated into any language. 

Note: The recipient (teacher or student) does not have the ability to edit or delete someone else's message.


If you wanted to translate on behalf of the student, you can simply copy the translation and add it back into the chat. 

Teachers can also chat with students that are 'waiting' in the onboarding (equipment check) stage of entering the classroom.

For example, sometimes students have not "allowed" LearnCube to access their webcam so they can stream their video in the class. 

The teacher can write what they would like to in their native language, translate the text using LearnCube Chat Instant Translate feature, copy & paste this into the chat and hit the send button. 

The student will then be able to see the message in their chat. 

This may be just the prompt the student needs to get into the class.

You'll also notice the chat is colour coded so that it's also easier for a teacher to differentiate between students in a group lesson.

Everything we do is to improve the quality of online tutoring and teaching so we really hope you enjoy these new improvements to the chat section. 

Happy tutoring!

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LearnCube's Breakout Room Feature

LearnCube is an online classroom designed for education, not for business meetings.

If you're a professional teacher, you'll notice the difference and one of the important new features from LearnCube is its breakout room.

Teachers in LearnCube are able to "break out" students into different rooms.

Why are 'breakout rooms' so helpful?

It gives teachers are incredibly powerful tool that's especially powerful if a teacher is having to look after more than one student at a time.

Breakout rooms mean that teachers can leave students to study, learn and practice without them having to be there.

Students can be put into a breakout room by themselves (perfect for study), with a peer (great for practicing) or with a group (brilliant for collaboration). 

Teachers can still move freely between the different breakout rooms to helps students where needed or simply keep students on task.

Students can put up their hand to get the attention from the teacher.

Teachers will see an alert and can work towards helping that room next.

You can learn more about how to use the feature in this support article or watch this YouTube tutorial.

LearnCube's breakout room feature vs video-conferencing software?

LearnCube is not a business-meetings software, we're a teaching-software so every design choice has the teacher and student experience in mind. 

Teachers often want to have students complete exercises in a breakout room so unlike a video-conferencing software, LearnCube teachers can load whiteboard into the room.

Teachers will want to facilitate different experiences, so LearnCube teachers can choose the classroom format they want for each student or group.

Students can annotate on whiteboards, add their own content to it and create new whiteboards to support their learning.

Teachers can then load the whiteboard and materials that the students have worked on, into the main room afterwards. 

This is great if a teacher is wanting to share and show-off a student or peer's work.

These may seem like small things but are actually HUGE for teachers and make online classes far more efficient and effective!

If you'd like to try out the classroom for yourself, sign up for a free trial.

This is just version 1 so stay tuned for new updates and improvements.

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Guest Post: Online versus Face-to-Face Language Training for Expats

Before the worldwide lockdown, many of us English Language (EL) teachers, and even some students too, seemed resistant to embrace the digital wave of language training online. In fact, face-to-face English lessons continued to be a comfort zone for tech-shy EL teachers. However, current circumstances have forced us EL teachers to learn to use new tools to deliver lessons in virtual classrooms.  

In my opinion, as an English Language Teacher, the same principles apply when you teach face-to-face vs online teaching. These are:

  • The focus is on engaging students, igniting their interest in learning. 

  • Get to know your students, learn what excites them.

  • Promote peer interaction and encourage students to think critically, allowing them to be creative. 

  • Monitor their learning and guide them through the process.

  • Ask many questions or quiz them constantly to assess their learning.

  • Constant modelling and scaffolding.

As an English Language Teacher myself, I can say that in my experience online language training has the following difficulties and advantages:

Difficulties of online language training:

  • Students may miss the teacher's body language during an online teaching session.

  • Students taking an online language course can get easily distracted in a familiar environment (their home) and miss the language and grammar instructions.

  • Teachers may not get enough feedback from students when the camera is off.

  • Teachers may feel isolated teaching through a virtual classroom, due to the feeling of lacking human connection (in-person). 


Advantages of online language training: 

  • Virtual lessons provide new ways of engaging students through technology, using virtual platforms.

  • Online lessons solve the distance problem, you can take an individual or group language training course from anywhere in the world.   

  • Online language training courses are interactive, they include a variety of activities that fit different learning styles, videos, texts, presentations, discussions, so students get to practice their oral expression, reading, writing, and listening skills.

  • Students get the chance to practice their listening skills more actively and improve them since many times the students do not have the camera on (online group courses) they focus their attention more on listening to instructions and pronunciation. 

  • Teachers can still build rapport with students. They can be there for them, be reliable, and dependent, answer their questions, answer their emails, support and guide their language learning experience.

Why is this important for expats?

"To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world." Chinese Proverb 
Globalization and the internationalization of companies entails new challenges. Expatriate lessons allow us to connect virtually with people from anywhere in the world, which is already a rich experience in itself, as it opens our knowledge to other cultures. Exposure to cultural awareness through language training is crucial, especially if you are an expatriate going through the various stages of the relocation journey.  A language and migration study from the University of Alcalá showed that expatriates' proficiency in the host country's language facilitated their cross-cultural adjustment and their interactions with locals.  Additionally, the study found that a high level of proficiency in the host country's language can enable the expatriates to adopt appropriate work values and behave appropriately in the workplace.

As we can see there is a high correlation between language skills and cultural adjustment, resulting in the impact on retention of the host country's assignees. This is why it is particularly relevant when teaching expatriates to include cultural awareness in our language lessons, bring our knowledge of the culture from the language we are teaching, and share it with our students, this will help them to find meaning in the cultural differences and adjust to the culture of the host country. 
The world is getting smaller, advances in technology allow millions of people to connect in real-time through various digital channels. The best online learning platforms are available to us to help us learn a language more efficiently. We can choose from live individual online classes or live online group classes. And if we prefer in-person language training we can choose to take Business In-company, face-to-face one-on-one language lessons or face-to-face group language classes.  Language learning is available to everyone!
Guest post by: Nora Ceja of Eszett Business Language Services who provide customized and adaptable classes for corporate and private students, including face-to-face lessons in 60 countries and virtual lessons via the Learncube Online School platform.  

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Refreshed Virtual Classroom | February 2021

We've added some exciting new features to the Virtual Classroom.

LearnCube's aim has always been to provide teachers, trainers and tutors with a professional, reliable and simple to use platform. 

Our latest changes to the LearnCube WhiteboardVirtual Classroom and Online School, due to be rolled out in February, will enrich the learning/teaching experience and help teachers teach more efficiently and effectively.

Details below, and a video here, taking you through the updates.

Helping you teach more effectively online in the classroom

You want to spend your time teaching, so we've continued to ensure that the Virtual Classroom lets you do that. In fact, it's just got even easier. Here's how:
  • Students will see you type on the interactive whiteboard in real-time and vice versa.
  • You can use keyboard shortcuts inside of the LearnCube Virtual Classroom:
    • ctrl/cmd -x = cut
    • ctrl/cmd -c = copy
    • ctrl/cmd -v = paste
    • ctrl-z or cmd-z = undo 
  • Copy and paste content on the online whiteboard using keyboard shortcuts
  • You can drag and drop files onto the whiteboard, as well as to the new file uploader available on the bottom-right of the class:

  • Links in PDF files are now clickable. Depending on the format of the link, they'll either open in another whiteboard or in another browser tab.
  • When adding YouTube content, you'll be able to use text to search for videos through the platform, instead of just using a link:

  • You can now find a straight line tool, as well as a Star stamp.

Interface Improvements

You might notice things look a little different. We've designed our latest version of the Virtual Classroom to be more intuitive and we're confident you'll like the result.

  • To make it faster and simpler for teachers to access the two most commonly used features, Content Library & Screen share, buttons to the bottom right of the classroom:

  • Whiteboard tab titles are editable (just double click on the tab and hit enter once you're happy with it):

  • Refresh whiteboard button - if the whiteboard is appearing out of sync for any participants, you can instantly reload the last saved version:

  • Notifications have been added, for example, if you're uploading a file that's too big and is likely to impact performance you’ll receive an alert letting you know:

  • Text chat during onboarding - participants will now be able to contact the teacher during their equipment checks before entering the online class:

Thanks for reading and happy teaching!

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4 Simple Tutoring Strategies to Build Engagement

You know your subject and you know you can teach it, but getting your student to pay attention long enough to learn something can be a challenge.

Combine these 4 simple strategies to build lasting engagement with any student in any subject:

  1. Positivity;
  2. Personalisation;
  3. Pitch & Pace; and
  4. Partnership.



Warm welcome


Your students decide whether or not to engage in the first moments of the session. Whether you’re tutoring online in a virtual classroom or face-to-face, ramp up the positive energy in the first moments of every session. An exaggeratedly warm smile and an enthusiastic welcome will make your student feel a surge of excitement even as they anticipate logging on, or sitting down to learn with you.




Take the time to ask how your student is, and what might be on their mind. Respond to what they say in a way that builds the relationship and makes them feel heard. Relationship is the conduit for learning, after all. 


Don’t worry that these friendly chats are wasting precious learning time. In fact, it’s the opposite. If your student is preoccupied with other issues, they won’t be able to focus - so investing the few minutes in getting things off their chest will make your session more effective.




When your student knows you love your subject, they can become intrigued to understand the appeal. Many tutors I know chose their subjects because of their own teacher’s passion. Show your student your fascination with the subject by exploring beyond the curriculum. Tackle open-ended questions alongside your student, giving weight to their opinions and ideas. Explore science, business, language or geography by opening any newspaper and interpreting the content together.




Showing your student that you’re on their team is one of the most satisfying elements of tutoring. Your student may feel lost as one of 30 in the classroom. Having you cheering every small win - a remembered capital letter, for instance - gives them powerful feedback that their efforts matter.


Encouragement is far more powerful than praise. It is the ongoing positive feedback that keeps our students making progress and on the right track. ‘You can do it’ is even more powerful than ‘you did it’. It’s permission to keep going. 


Tailoring your activities to your students’ interests is a freedom you have as a tutor. Whether you are teaching knowledge, or developing skills, you can personalise any task to ensure engagement throughout.

If you’re counting, why not count purple unicorns? If you’re describing, why not describe a fierce BMX race? If you’re analysing Hamlet, why not illustrate and publish a comic? 

Make a series of worded-problems far more engaging by basing them on plans for your student’s birthday party. Develop reading, writing and oracy skills through a research project on your students’ special interests. 

Pitch and Pace

The real reason most students lack engagement in the classroom will be pitch or pace. This is where tutoring makes all the difference.


Pitch means how difficult the work is. Working one-to-one or in small groups makes it much easier to get the pitch right. You can set work based on what you know about your student already. Crucially, you can also adjust the pitch in the moment, making the work more challenging or helping them through the tricky bits. Getting the pitch right means work that stretches without overwhelming your student. 


Pace means how quickly or slowly you go. Your student might struggle with teachers who go too fast, or may be bored by teachers going too slow.  As a tutor, it’s crucial to pace your lesson according to your students' nature (students with slow-processing speeds can be equally bright as their quicker peers, but never have the chance to show it). 


Intrinsic motivation is a great aim. We want our students to feel the thrill of their own growth. Make your student a partner in their learning process. Agree on goals, discuss plans and reflect on what went well together. 

This level of thinking is called meta-cognition, and along with the associated skill of self-regulation, evidence shows this is the way to turn our students into independent learners. 

Ask questions such as ‘Did you think you’d find this harder?’, ‘What made this question tricky? Or ‘What do you need to know in order to solve this problem’ These questions make the learning reflective as well as active, and the student will become just as engaged in the tutoring session as you are.

Prefer to listen or watch more about these 4 strategies?

This article was written by Julia Silver, founder of Qualified Tutor. Julia and Alex talk about this topic in more detail in a podcast accessible wherever you get your podcasts.

You can listen to the episode now here or find on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and all other major platforms.

If you prefer a video, check out it out here on LearnCube's YouTube channel

Want to learn more from Julia & her team?

These 4 concepts: Positivity, Personalisation, Pitch & Pace and Partnership will help you to engage every student in every session.

In case you're interested, Qualified Tutor cover these principles in their Level 3 in Education and Training - a course designed to help you become the tutor your students need.

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LangTech and Rise of the Machines

In the last post, we focused on the characteristics and organisational models of Human-Powered Instruction (HPI), a key product category of LangTech, as well as the benefits and trade-offs of each model. In this post, we will focus on Machine-Powered Instruction (MPI)

Language instruction is no longer delivered exclusively by humans, and the trends are pointing to a future where the majority of language instruction could (at least theoretically) be delivered by machines and algorithms. Language education providers that employ this new technology now need to make design choices on the pace and degree of personalisation they deliver in their courses. 

Origins of Machine-Powered Instruction

The origins of modern Machine-Powered Instruction take root in the 1980’s when language distance courses started transitioning from paper to digital interface with the rise of the personal computer and CD-Roms that were sophisticated enough to direct a learner down a particular learning path.  When the internet exploded worldwide, “digital courses” (often completely standardised) evolved to become “online self-study courses” with more options, more flexibility and could be updated even after the course was purchased or sold.

The Future of Machine-Powered Instruction

These days the interface may differ substantially - web application, mobile application, virtual reality headset, augmented reality screen - but the key idea for MPI remains the same: a self-study course where the instruction is pre-programmed (increasingly using artificial intelligence (AI) to improve the experience). 

The most helpful way to understand the different self-study courses is through their product design choices with regard to delivery and approach of instruction:

  1. Delivery: Paced vs Self-Paced Instruction 

  2. Approach: Standardized vs Personal Instruction.  

Paced vs Self-Paced Instruction

Paced vs. Self-Paced Instruction refers to when the instruction is delivered and/or the learning takes place. 

A paced course is one where the learner completes the work by following a predetermined schedule, often with a cohort of other learners. 

In contrast, a self-paced course is where the learner completes the work whenever they choose and often work through the subject areas they care most deeply about themselves.

Standardised Instruction vs Personal Instruction

Standardised Instruction is where learning is delivered in the same way for everyone in that course. In this case, “learning” may refer to course goals, course content, class materials, approach, methodology, and/or assessment. Learners have little to no input with regard to what will be learned and how. 

Personal Instruction is where the learner makes (or is involved in) most of the decisions about what will be learned and how. At its finest, a personal approach implies the learner not only contributes to deciding what will be learned and how, but also to the creation of the overall curriculum. 

Personalized Instruction is close to Personal Instruction but not quite. Personalized Instruction in language learning broadly refers to instruction that is customized to meet the specific educational needs of the learner. However, this instruction (including learning goals, class materials, assessment, etc.) is generally pre-created and pre-packaged without the learner’s input, i.e. by someone who hasn’t met and will never meet the learner. It has been suggested that “personalized learning” is something we do to learners, whereas “personal learning” is something learners do for themselves.

For example: If a student is brand new to learning to speak English language and was considering learning with an online teacher and/or a self-study app, then it’s easier if we compare the 3 options: standardised, personalised and personal learning instruction. 

  1. Standardised instruction example: The student learns how to speak English by following the same process as any/all students working with the teacher or self-study app. An old-school technology example of this is a CD-ROM where every learner follows the exact same pre-programmed learning path. Everything is predetermined: the curriculum, hours spent per unit, test, etc. 

  2. Personalised instruction example: The curriculum and content are predetermined but there are more choices available to the student (e.g. what topics are taught/skipped, timing, duration, etc) or the group the student is part of. An example using a web application might be where the app is optimised for Vietnamese (A1) learners of English. A more advanced example is the app offering multiple learning “tracks,” and customising the track as the learner moves along, based on his/her input or responses. Essentially, there are options and it is a huge step forward from standardised instruction and generally yields more effective results. However, the options are still pre-made and predetermined, created in advance by someone who has not met the individual learner, and in essence, limited in number. 

  3. Personal instruction example: This is the most advanced form of personalisation. The curriculum and content are not predetermined or prefabricated. Instead, the teacher (or potentially an AI-based self-study application) somehow collaborate with the student to understand the student motivations, goals and preferences. Based on these, they create the curriculum together (it is important to clarify that by “curriculum” we do not refer exclusively to class materials, but also to learning goals, methodology, and assessment). The curriculum will therefore be unique to that individual at that point in time and therefore, the options for curricula are, by definition, unlimited. 

These product design choices are expressed in famous self-study courses that you may be familiar with, although we are already seeing the authors of these machine-powered online courses start to experiment with enabling technology and mix with human-powered instruction such as Babbel, Altissia, Visiagora and ABA English.

Each of these choices has advantages and disadvantages.  Advances in technology make a huge difference to the effectiveness of Machine-Powered Instruction.  The more that AI makes decisions for the learner, and the better the AI needs to be at identifying and adapting to new data, the more personal the instruction can be.

Brian & I are still seeking feedback on this post as part of the pre-release of our upcoming book, LangTech...

What are your thoughts?

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