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 (not centrally supported by the University of Waterloo and no Information Risk Assessment)1
Integration into LEARN Yes2 Yes2 No Yes No
Main Purpose Present information, share applications and collaborate on projects in a centralized space.

Best used for smaller roups (20-30) for classroom conversations and other collaborations.
Deliver online training and eLearning.

Designed to serve as a live classroom for larger groups (50+).
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
  • 25 webcams per page (grid view, high bandwidth)
  • 7 webcams per page (grid view, low bandwidth)
  • 1000 users
  • 7 webcams per page (grid view)
  • 300 users per video meeting
  • 9 webcams visible
  • 150 users
  • 7 webcams visible
  • 100 users3
  • 49 webcams per page (grid view)
Roles Yes4 Yes4 Yes4 Yes4 Yes4
Guests Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Anonymous Users Yes5 Yes5 No Yes Yes
Telephone in Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes6
Common Engagement Features
  • Chat
  • Media/file share7
  • Raise hand
  • Screen/application share8
  • Whiteboard
Additional Engagement Features
  • Polling
  • Polling
  • Classroom feedback
  • Q & A
  • Real-time testing and grading
  • Simultaneous multi-page presentation
  • Real-time collaborative work in meeting rooms before and after meeting
  • Polling
  • Additional engagement icons e.g., clap, smile, frown
  • Polling
  • Additional engagement icons e.g., clap
  • Can share multiple screens simultaneously
Control Features
  • Chat: public or private
  • Mute/unmute audience microphones/cameras
  • members of the audience can open their mic and speak at any time — host permission not needed
  • Waiting lobby 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 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 but cannot be saved as MP4 or standalone recordings Yes, easy to share link/files; easy to download MP4 if stored on the cloud
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 No, but can obtain transcripts automatically after recorded session is saved as MP4. English only. 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. No, but 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.
Break out rooms/manual assignment No/No Yes/Yes; max 100 users per room, max 100 rooms No/No — workaround possible using private channels (pc), but requires work in advance; max 300 users/pc, max 30 pcs/team Yes/Yes; max 6 rooms Yes/Yes; max users per room varies12, max 50 sessions
Support Contacts WebEx Keep Learning page

itms-collab@uwaterloo.ca
WebEx Keep Learning page

itms-collab@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 main website

Not centrally supported by the University of Waterloo
Key Advantage
  • Can join from web app
  • Hand raising is ordered
  • 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
  • Few control features
  • No automatic video transcription
  • No waiting lobby room
  • Needs considerably more work to set up breakout rooms (private channels) in advance
  • 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
  • Not centrally supported by the University of Waterloo
  • An Information Risk Assessment has NOT been conducted by the University of Waterloo. Follow all guidance in Best Practices for Securing Your Zoom Meetings if you are going to use this tool.

Footnotes

  1. Information shown is for the Zoom Pro license at $20/mo/host for up to 9 hosts. Other free and paid licenses are available with varying features.
  2. By adding a widget. The widget is in beta so may not work as expected.
  3. Large meeting add-ons 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 July 9, 2020