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Which webinar tool should I use (and when)?


Synchronous activities (from courses to meetings to research groups) are when people participate in the activity in real time (though the session is often recorded). They usually entail some interaction between attendees and vary in size from 1:1 to 1:+10, 000. If you want to run something in real time, chances are you're going to want to pick from one of the below online tools to support it. You'll want to keep in mind that the different tools have different strengths, and you might actually use a combination of the tools in order to achieve your goals.

This page provides an overview and feature comparison of three webinar tools currently available at U of T that support synchronous online activities in your Quercus course:

  • Microsoft Teams Meetings
  • Zoom Meetings
  • MS Live

For more information on institutionally-supported tools at U of T, see Enterprise Video-conferencing & Video Meeting Resources.

For an overview and feature comparison of tools you can use for asynchronous discussions, have a look at Which tool should I use for asynchronous discussions?

1. Overview of Webinar Tools for Synchronous Online Activities

1.1. Microsoft (MS) Teams Meetings

MS Teams Meetings is one of the Microsoft 365 apps.  U of T faculty, staff, and graduate students can schedule MS Teams Meetings from their Outlook calendar, from their Teams Calendar, or directly from Quercus.  Undergraduate students can attend meetings, but cannot schedule their own meetings.

Webinars allow you to register attendees, run an interactive presentation, and analyze attendee data for effective follow-up. MS Teams Webinars are more controlled and the participants have clear roles:  one or several experts (the presenters) share their ideas or provide training to an audience (the attendees). Webinars are good for presentation-based events with specific presenters and medium to large groups of attendees. You can create and hold interactive webinars for up to 1,000 attendees.

What are some of the benefits of using MS Teams Meetings?

  • It is easy to schedule sessions and participants do not need to have a UTORid to join
  • MS Teams Meetings allow up to 1000 participants (Note: participation is capped at 300 if using breakout rooms)    
  • Teams Meetings is now integrated into Quercus (see Teams + Quercus documentation for details).
  • MS Teams Meetings has a Webinar option for presentation-based meetings that require participant registration. For additional information, see our guide: How do I schedule a webinar in MS Teams?

Unlike other Meetings, MS Teams Webinars need to be scheduled directly from the Teams calendar, not from Outlook or Quercus.

1.2. Zoom Meetings

Zoom Meetings is a popular webinar tool that emphasizes collaboration. Zoom meeting sessions cap at 300 attendees.    

What are some of the benefits of using Zoom Meetings?

  • A U of T Zoom Education License is available to all eligible students, staff, and faculty (see ACT's Zoom Information page for account information)
  • Zoom Meetings have a participant capacity of 300 (including the host) 
  • A new Zoom-Quercus Integration provides the option for instructors and students to use Zoom directly within their Quercus course (see Zoom – Quercus Integration for details)

1.3. Microsoft (MS) Live

MS Live is a broadcast tool (rather than a discourse-based tool like Teams Meetings). The audience can engage with the presenter via text chat, but the audio and video is one-way broadcast.  Instructors and staff who may be interested in having assistance recording a video for later broadcast or sharing should contact LSM (Learning Space Management) to discuss scheduling and (for non-academic events) pricing.

What are some of the benefits of using MS Live?

  • MS Live is very useful for very large classes or other live events and can also serve as a remote, virtual “recording studio.”

Should I record? Yes! Although these webinar tools are designed to support synchronous sessions, there will be times where students cannot attend, lose connectivity, or simply want to review the session. It is highly recommended that you record these sessions and share them with your students, after the session. To take it farther, you might also upload presentation and other files used as well as any scripts that you have.

Comparison Table of Webinar Tools

Support Sites: MS Teams Meetings Zoom Meetings MS Live
Ideal for: Small internal meetings (e.g. research groups, staff meetings); larger meetings (up to 1000 participants); use webinar option if registration is required. Collaborative Activities (e.g. discussions); meetings of up to 300 participants.
Broadcasting to large audiences (+ 1000) (e.g. large lecture sections or online event ) where audience interaction is a managed Q&A experience 
Before you use, consider: When joining from an invite, all attendees are equal; can share audio and screens at any time For the best Zoom experience, ensure you are using a U of T-provisioned account (see: How can I verify that I'm using a U of T-licensed Zoom account?) and log in using the SSO option (i.e., visit and log in with your UTORid and password) 10-20 s delay (interaction between host and attendees is difficult)
How to Access Schedule Meetings from Microsoft Teams or Outlook or from within your Quercus Course; Webinars needs to be scheduled from Teams Calendar If you have an existing Zoom Pro account (paid by yourself or another department) or if you are creating a new Zoom account, visit Academic and Collaborative Technologies (ACT) Zoom information page for instructions. 
If you are converting an existing account to a U of T account, follow our step-by-step guide: How do I convert an existing basic Zoom account to a U of T pro account?  
Contact LSM for booking; some events are for a fee
Integrated into Quercus? Sort of (See Teams Meetings Documentation) Sort of (See Zoom – Quercus Integration for information) No
Administration Self-managed via Microsoft Teams Calendar or Outlook Calendar Self-managed via Zoom Settings Administered by LSM ([email protected]); not self-managed
Roles Presenters and Attendees; attendees have equal functionality (except guests, who cannot start/stop recordings); see MS Teams Roles Host, Guests (different roles available if other paid tiers are added to account, e.g Panelists) Organizer, Producer (designed to help queue content/manage session), Presenter, Attendee
Bandwidth usage Some end-user controls; can turn off video feeds but not screen sharing Some end-user controls; change video quality in settings > video (recommended)
Attendance Log Yes, via Participants pane (report can only be downloaded by meeting organizer and only while meeting is still in session) Yes (see getting started with Zoom reports) Yes; via Attendee Engagement Report
Join by phone option? Yes (but could be temporary)  Yes Yes (but could be temporary)
Session size limits? 1000
(Note: The default maximum concurrent participant number for Teams Video Meetings was increased from 300 to 1000 in August 2021. For more information, refer to the Enterprise Video-conferencing and Video Meeting Resources page from Academic and Collaborative Technologies (ACT)
(see Q & A section, Q3 of Academic and Collaborative Technologies (ACT) Zoom information page for information about a Large Class or Webinar add-on which is NOT part of the U of T license but can be purchased separately, directly from Zoom, and used on an autonomous account, NOT via the U of T Zoom portal)
Designed for large audiences; supports over 10,000 attendees
Max. simultaneous cameras 49; currently in preview mode, see how to enable large camera grid Up to number of participants; flip through "pages" of camera grids (see changing the video lay out) Limited to Presenter Cameras
Pricing? Included in institutional licensing Basic account included in institutional licensing; pricing for different levels of accounts. Included in institutional licensing
Interaction Features: Emojis, Stickers, Message Urgency (Standard, Important, Urgent) Hand Raise, Emoticons for Yes/No, Go Slower/Go Faster, Thumbs Up/Down, Clap, Coffee, Time Emoticon for Thumbs Up
Instructor can share: Audio, Video, Content, Applications, built-in whiteboard Audio, Video, Content, Applications, built-in whiteboard (see sharing your screen) Audio, Video, Content, Applications, whiteboard (via Teams Chat, this chat screen can then be  shared)
Students can share: Audio, Video, Content, Applications, built-in whiteboard Audio, Video, Content, Applications, built-in whiteboard Attendees cannot share content
Remote Control? No Yes; Hosts can take control of guest screens (with permission) Yes; Presenter can control Producer's screen
Guest access? Yes; some functional limitations for guests. Yes, can invite anyone. Yes; can invite anyone.
Formative Quizzing?  Polling available via MS Forms, can pre-build before session Basic Polling; Multiple Choice; can pre-build before sessions (requires Pro account or above) No
Small Group Collaboration? Breakout Rooms

(Note: Breakout rooms in Teams Video Meetings can only be created in meetings that have fewer than 300 attendees. In addition, creating breakout rooms in a meeting automatically limits the number of meeting attendees to 300)
Breakout Rooms No
Built-in recording tool? Yes; recording is logged as part of meeting chat.
As of January 2021, recordings are no longer automatically uploaded to Microsoft Stream. Instead, they are automatically uploaded to a Recordings folder in OneDrive.
Yes; Zoom offers both local and cloud recording options.
For more information see our guide: What's the best way to record my Zoom sessions?
Yes; file can be downloaded via the Recording link on the calendar invite.
Storage capacity for recordings Storage in OneDrive is limited to 1 TB per user.  

Storage for all provisional U of T Zoom Education accounts is limited to 0.5 GB. Recordings are subject to UofT 365-day retention policy

Contact LSM for information.
Retention limits for recordings There are no limits on retention time of recordings.

Zoom cloud recordings are stored online on the Zoom cloud and are subject to the University of Toronto's 365-day retention update (see Academic & Collaborative Technologies (ACT) Zoom Information page for details). They must be downloaded for long-term retention. If you are using this option, please see our guide: How do I make a cloud recording in Zoom?

Contact LSM for information.
Class management tools? Timer available in breakout rooms Session timer Session Timer
Session time limit? 8 hours 30 hours (based on Standard Pro license limit) 4 hours
Mobile app? Yes Yes; limited functionality; not recommended for hosting sessions Only functional for attendees 

Webinars with video and/or content/screen sharing are huge bandwidth (Internet quota) users. If you are on a session with screen sharing and/or video feeds, you can expect to use 1 - 2 gbs of data per hour of use. If you are streaming in HD, this usage could be even higher.

Interested in knowing more about the security of the tool? Mozilla published a report reviewing and detailing security measures built into commonly used video call apps.

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