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A Comparison of Web Conference Tools for Active Online Teaching

There are now a range of institutionally-supported web conferencing tools available for us to use in our work. This resource will help you to select a platform suitable for your learning and teaching needs.

Author: Will Moindrot, Dr Monica Chavez Munoz & Dr Shaghayegh Tya Asgari

1. What tools are available to us at the University?

BigBlueButton (Canvas):

A web conferencing tool that is embedded into Canvas, ready to use within the Conferences area of courses. It has nice teaching features and is simple to use, however our current institutional license limits its scalability.

MS Teams Meetings:

Meetings in Teams include audio, video, and screen sharing, and are one of the key communication tools in Microsoft Teams, which is itself a rich collaboration platform. A good option for both internal and external communication.

MS Teams Live:

Teams Live Events is an extension of Teams meetings, enabling users to broadcast video and meeting content to a large online audience. The host of the event delivers the presentation and audience participation is limited to viewing the content shared.

Zoom:

An established business and consumer web conferencing platform, with an extensive and well developed list of features that compliment it as a high-quality and reliable video conferencing platform for both internal and external communication.

2. Which web conference platform would you recommend for lecture/seminar/tutorial?

Lecture:

Any <=250 students; all tools can be used but for > 250 you can use Zoom or Ms Teams Live.

Seminar:

All tools can be used, but if you’re using Canvas or Teams you might want to use those platforms.

Tutorials:

Teams or Zoom are both good options.

3. Which web conferencing tool allows students to set-up their own meetings?

Zoom, and MS Teams Meeting.

4. Which one of the web conferencing tools is more suitable for active learning?

They’re all suitable for active learning pedagogies. For example, most of the tools offer simple interactive polling, collaborative whiteboard and chat which you could incorporate within your approach.

5. I have more than 250 students:

Zoom or Live meetings in Teams.

6. Can I mute the participants?

Yes all of these platform support this. Which can help resolve audio quality problems.

7. Can I allocate different roles to the participants?

They all offer this, but Zoom offers the widest range of roles such as Panellist, co-presenter, and co-host.

8. Are these tools accessible?

Yes, they all offer various tools to increase accessibility such as: Close caption, Live caption, immersive reader, keyboard shortcuts and tab ordering
For more information see their respective accessibility policy statements: 

9. How do I get set up?

10. Which tools do allow me to have breakout rooms for group activities?

Zoom, and BigBlueButton (up to 10 rooms) support this feature. But we recommend Zoom as it is more reliable and supports up to 50 rooms.

Creative Commons Licence
A Comparison of Web Conference Tools for Active Online Teaching by Will Moindrot, Dr Monica Chavez Munoz & Dr Shaghayegh Tya Asgari is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.