Comparison of Tools for Synchronous Teaching

One of the most significant factors to consider when preparing to teach remotely is if, when and how you will integrate synchronous sessions into your course. At the University of Waterloo all remote courses are conducted in LEARN — our Learning Management System (LMS). The following table offers a comparison of the various tools you may be considering for any synchronous events within your course and whether or note they are integrated with LEARN.

TESTING what you want to do with any application is strongly recommended to ensure it works as you expect before using it with a class.

 WebEx MeetingsWebEx TrainingMS TeamsBongo - Virtual Classroom in LEARNZoom
Integration into LEARN Yes1 Yes1 No Yes Yes2 (as of August 2021)
Main Purpose For Classrooms, seminars, meetings with free flowing conversation, or controlled classroom Mainly for controlled classroom where interactions are by permission Virtual communication and collaboration with resource sharing capabilities. Online classroom best thought of as a combination between WebEx Meetings and Training.

Bongo has another side — Video Assignments. If using these, consider using VC as well (and if possible) to limit the number of tools students are exposed to.
Online video conferencing.
Maximum users/session
  • 1000 users
  • 1000 users
  • 300 users per video meeting
  • 49 webcams per page (grid view)
  • 150 users
  • 7 webcams visible
  • 300 users3
  • 49 webcams per page (grid view)
Roles Hosts, co-hosts, presenters, participants4 Hosts,co-hosts,presenters, panelists, participants4 Yes4 Yes4 Hosts, co-hosts, alternate hosts, participants4
Guests Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Anonymous Users Yes5 Yes5 Yes Yes Yes
Telephone in Yes (not recommended for teaching) Yes (not recommended for teaching) Yes Yes Yes6
Common Engagement Features
  • Chat
  • Media/file share7
  • Raise hand
  • Screen/application share8
  • Whiteboard
  • Polling
Additional Engagement Features
  • Streaming to popular streaming services such as, YouTube, vBrick, IBM, etc.

  • Faster /slower playback of recordings

  • Push to talk with space bar key to mute/umuted mic

  • Classroom Feedback(automatic hand geture detection)

  • Classroom feedback
  • Q & A
  • Real-time testing and grading
  • Simultaneous multi-page presentation
  • Real-time collaborative work in meeting rooms before and after meeting
  • Additional engagement icons e.g., clap, smile, frown
  • Additional engagement icons e.g., clap
  • Can share multiple screens simultaneously
  • Filters
  • Reactions (yes, no, go faster, go slower)

Control Features
  • Chat: public or private
  • Mute/unmute audience microphones/cameras
  • Participant permissions decided by host
  • Waiting room
  • Chat: public or private
  • Mute/unmute audience microphones/cameras
  • Activities controlled by instructor's permission
  • Individual permissions can be assigned by instructors
  • Chat: public or private
  • Mute/unmute audience microphones/cameras
  • Invitee permissions are set by organizer
  • Waiting lobby room
  • Chat: public or private
  • Mute/unmute audience microphones/cameras
  • Moderator has control over attendee audio/video/chat access
  • Chat: public or private
  • Mute/unmute audience microphones/cameras
  • Invitee permissions are set by the owner
  • Waiting lobby room
Session Recording Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Share recording/ease Yes, easy to share a link; easy to download MP4 if stored in cloud. Searchable transcripts available  Yes, easy to share a link; work involved in exporting and converting to MP4 to share on other platforms Yes easy to share a link; some work involved in setting up privacy9 Yes, can be copied to other LEARN courses and can be downloaded on computer and played as an html file. Yes, easy to share link/files; easy to download MP4 if stored on the cloud. Also has searchable transcripts.
Edit Video Recordings10 Yes, using WebEx editor (Windows only) Yes, using WebEx editor (Windows only) Yes, trimming beginning and end only No No, but can adjust playback range
Live Closed Captioning11 Yes, added feature by request No Yes. Can also edit transcriptions after video is saved in MS Stream. Can share link with anyone. English only. No, but can assign someone to create closed captions live, which are then preserved with the recording.

Yes,

  • Auto transcription available.
  • Can assign someone to create closed captions live which can be saved as a TXT or VTT file or obtain transcripts automatically after recorded session is saved in the cloud.
  • Can also integrate a third-party closed captioning service.
Break out rooms/manual assignment

Yes/Yes, manual, automatic, and self-selected assignment; pre-assign available; max 50 rooms

Yes/Yes, and with
pre-register
Yes/yes; max 50 rooms Yes/Yes; max 8 rooms Yes/Yes; manual, automatic, and self-selected assignment; pre-assign available; max users per room varies12, max 50 sessions
Support Contacts

WebEx Keep Learning page

rt-ist-itms-collab@rt.uwaterloo.ca
(With WebEx in the subject line)

WebEx Keep Learning page

rt-ist-itms-collab@rt.uwaterloo.ca
MS Teams Waterloo Wiki

helpdesk@uwaterloo.ca

519-888-4567 x44357
Bongo Keep Learning page

learnhelp@uwaterloo.ca

519-888-4567 x41744
Zoom - IST Knowledge Base

rt-ist-itms-collab@rt.uwaterloo.ca
(With Zoom in the subject line)
Key Advantage
  • Meetings is full featured application
  • Controlled classroom where interactions are by permission
  • Can join from web app
  • Closed captioning (ease of use is best here)
  • Hand raising is ordered
  • Breakout rooms can be timed
  • Fully integrated with LEARN courses
  • Can join from web app
  • Breakout rooms can be timed
  • Hand raising is ordered
Key Disadvantage
  • None
  • Recordings are in .arf format, not MP4
  • No automatic video transcription
  • No waiting lobby room
  • Private Channels are difficult to manage as the membership needs to be manually maintained
  • No automatic video transcription
  • No waiting lobby room
  • Saves whiteboard pages as separate PNGs as part of recording
  • Will not play video or audio add-ins on Powerpoints
  • None

Footnotes

  1. Webex is integrated with LEARN, you can add webex widget to manage the basic functions. 
  2. Zoom is integrated with LEARN, you can add zoom widget to manage the basic functions. The widget is in beta so may not work as expected.
  3. Large meeting add-ons for Zoom are available for increased participant limits to 500 or 1000 participants.
  4. See respective sites for explanation of roles: WebEx Meetings, WebEx Training, MS Teams, Bongo VC, Zoom .
  5. Participants can be anonymous by entering as a guest and using a previously agreed upon pseudonym. In some cases, this may not work as intended, and should be tested thoroughly before-hand. Please review the Privacy in Recordings page and the Notice of Recording template for during a live event. Contact the relevant help desks with any questions on setup and safety measures for your specific use case.
  6. Tolls apply without the necessary license which gives toll-free numbers. See Joining a meeting by phone.
  7. Moderator and presenter can send files and links through chat with Bongo VC.
  8. Audio or video or animations in PowerPoint (or even when not embedded in PowerPoint) may not work with media sharing or screen sharing and should be tested before using it with a class. Variations in app and browser setup can also affect this. Playing video or audio over a web conferencing system is typically not recommended.
  9. See Microsoft support for configuring Permission Settings.
  10. Any MP4 can be edited in third-party editing software.
  11. Third-party platforms such as YouTube or MS Stream can be used for auto-transcribing post-recording. Be mindful of sharing permissiosn when using third-party programs.
  12. See Managing breakout rooms in Zoom.

Last updated August 16th, 2021.