How to Build a Virtual Classroom iOS App with Video and Chat

·Updated Jun 20, 2021

·Published Jul 7, 2020

Matheus C.

In this tutorial, we'll build an iOS app where students and teachers can interact in a virtual classroom using Stream Chat, to deliver fully featured chat components, and, to provide quality audio and video. By the end, we'll have an application similar to the screenshots below. As a bonus, it's compatible with both light and dark mode.

Image shows two screenshots, one from the chat screen with a small video overlay with the teacher, and another with a fullscreen video of the teacher and students

If you get lost during this tutorial, you can check the completed project in this GitHub repo. Let's get started with our EdTech app development!

What is Stream Chat?

Build real-time chat in less time. Rapidly ship in-app messaging with our highly reliable chat infrastructure. Drive in-app conversion, engagement, and retention with the Stream Chat messaging platform API & SDKs.

What is's Client SDK?

Dolby Interactivity APIs provide a platform for unified communications and collaboration. In-flow communications refers to the combination of voice, video, and messaging integrated into your application in a way that is cohesive for your end-users. This is in contrast to out-of-app communications where users must stop using your application and instead turn to third-party tools.


Set up project

Create the Xcode project

First, we open Xcode and create a Single View App project.

Screenshot shows a single view app created on Xcode 11

And make sure to select 'Storyboard' for the User Interface.

Install dependencies

To install the Stream Chat and's Client SDK dependencies, we'll use CocoaPods. If you prefer Carthage, both frameworks support it as well.

In the folder where you saved the project, run pod init and add StreamChat and VoxeetUXKit to the Podfile. It should look similar to this:

After you do that, run pod install, wait a bit for it to finish, and open the project via the .xcworkspace that CocoaPods created.

Configure the Stream Chat dashboard

Sign up at, create the application, and make sure to select development instead of production.

Screenshot of a user creating a development application at

To make things simple for now, let's disable both auth checks and permission checks. Make sure to hit save. When your app is in production, you should keep these enabled.

Screenshot of skip auth checks and permission enabled in a Stream App dashboard

You can see the documentation about authentication here and permissions here.

Now, save your Stream credentials, as we'll need them to power the chat in the app. Since we disabled auth and permissions, we'll only really need the key for now. Still, in production, you'll use the secret in your backend to implement proper authentication to issue user tokens for Stream Chat, so users can interact with your app securely.

Screenshot of credentials on stream dashboard

As you can see, I've blacked out my keys. You should make sure to keep your credentials safe.

Configure the dashboard

Configuring the dashboard is simpler. Just create an account there, and it should already set up an initial application for you.

Screenshot of credentials on dashboard

Now, save your credentials, as we'll need them to power the audio and video streaming in the app. As with the Stream credentials, you use these for development. In production, you'll need to set up proper authentication. It's described in detail here.

Configure Stream Chat and's SDKs

The first step with code is to configure the Stream and Dolby SDK with the credentials from the dashboards. Open the AppDelegate.swift file and modify it, so it looks similar to this:

That code initializes the and Stream Chat SDKs with credentials you got in the previous two steps.

Create the Join Screen

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Let's start building the "Join" screen. This screen consists of two UIButton instances. One to join as a Student, and the other to participate as the teacher. That is an oversimplification to make this tutorial short and get to the chat, audio, and video features faster. In your complete app, you'll need proper registration, database, and all that. For this tutorial, the screen will look similar to the screenshot below.

Screenshot shows an app with two buttons, one to join as a student, and the other to participate as the teacher

Go to the storyboard, select the default view controller, and click Editor > Embed In > Navigation Controller. That will place it under a navigation controller, which we'll use to navigate to the classroom screen.

Image shows storyboard with a JoinViewController embedded in a navigation controller

Make sure to rename ViewController to JoinViewController, so you don't get confused later. You can do this easily by right-clicking on ViewController in ViewController.swift and selecting refactor.

To make things simple, let's leave the storyboard like this and use only code from now on. To set up the two buttons, we need the following code in JoinViewController.swift:

That code sets up the views, the constraints, and the handlers we need. Let's start by extending JoinViewController to define setupViews:

That code will create the buttons and add them to the controller's view. Next, we need to define constraints between the three. Let's do this by extending JoinViewController to define setupConstraints:

That code will ensure the studentButton stays in the center of the screen and the teacherButton below it. Now we need to set up the handler for when the user presses the buttons. Let's do this again by extending the controller to define setupHandlers:

That code will make it so, when the user presses the button, a ClassViewController is created and set up for the teacher or a student, depending on which button the user pressed. We'll create ClassViewController in the next step.

Create the Classroom Screen

Now, let's create the screen where the students and teacher will talk via chat and where they may begin a video call. We'll start by defining ClassViewController. It will look similar to the screenshots below.

Image shows a screenshot of a conversation in a chat screen with students and a teacher

The first step is to create a ClassViewController.swift file and paste the code below.

That code defines a subclass of ChatViewController, which provides most of the chat behavior and UI we need. It also defines the student and teacher User objects and a Channel object. These objects will be used to interact with the Stream API. Additionally, we're generating a random id for the student using the String extension below.

On viewDidLoad, we also call setupViews and setupHandlers to set up the views and handlers needed. We'll define those functions next.

But, let's first define the setupStudent function that sets the current Stream Chat user as a student, and the setupTeacher function that sets it as the teacher.

Now we define setupViews to set up the views we need.

Those functions will display a button which starts a call. For it to work, we'll need to define setupHandlers as well.

Those functions set callButtonPressed as the function to be called when the call button is pressed, which in turn calls startCall, which we define next.

Finally, that function uses the SDK to start a conference call.

Configure usage descriptions

If you run the app now, you'll be able to chat, but pressing the call button will cause the application to crash. That happens because we need to configure the usage descriptions for microphone and video in the Info.plist file. To do this, just open Info.plist and set the NSMicrophoneUsageDescription and NSCameraUsageDescription keys as pictured below.

Image shows the Info.plist file with the two usage descriptions defined

Finally, we open the app in two devices, and, from the chat, we can start a call.

Image shows two screenshots, one from the chat screen with a small video overlay with the teacher, and another with a fullscreen video of the teacher

Wrapping up

Congratulations! You've built the basis of a functioning EdTech app with Stream Chat and I encourage you to browse through Stream Chat's docs,'s docs, and experiment with the project you just built. Good luck on your EdTech app development!

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