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.

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.

What are the most commonly used Webinar/Livestreaming tools in use at FASE? (See Enterprise Video-conferencing & Video Meeting Resources for institutionally support tools)

  1. Blackboard Collaborate Ultra (see our full documentation) is fully integrated with Quercus, making it easy for instructors to schedule and host events accessible to all students in a course (session facilitators can also schedule independent sessions not connected to a course, and invite participants from outside the University). See Session Best Practices for a guide to hosting webinars (synchronous sessions).
  2. Team Meetings (TM ) is fully integrated with Office 365 (the UofT email and calendar system), it is easy to schedule sessions, and participants do not need to have a UofT/UTORid to join. The solution has basic screen sharing by a presenter, and an accompanying “chat” window for textual conversations (and the text transcripts automatically persist after the meeting). Teams is now integrated into the academic toolbox and is accessible from Quercus courses (see Teams + Quercus documentation for details)!
  3. Zoom is a popular but unsupported webinar tool that emphasizes collaboration. It is not currently integrated into any of the U of T systems. The cost of the tool can be prohibitive and it has not undergone U of T's security and risk management evaluation process. Please use this tool at your own discretion. NEW! U of T has provisionally licensed Zoom for 1 year (see ACT's Zoom Information page for account information). For this provisional license, it will not be integrated into Quercus (see how to administer Zoom in your course) and you will be reliant on Zoom community support should something go wrong (see FASE guidelines for Zoom use).
  4. MS Live is a broadcast tool (rather than a discourse-based tool like Team Meetings and Collaborate Ultra). The audience can engage with the presenter via text chat, but the audio and video is one-way broadcast. This tool is very useful for very large classes or other live eventscan also serve as a remote, virtual “recording studio.” Instructors and staff who may be interested in having assistance recording a video for later broadcast or sharing should contact ACE to discuss.

Should I record? Yes! Although these 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.

How do the different tools compare?

Support Sites: Bb Collaborate Teams Meetings (TM) Zoom MS Live
Ideal for: Course Activity (e.g. lectures) Small internal meetings (e.g. research groups, staff meetings) Collaborative Activities (e.g. discussions) Broadcasting to large audiences (+ 1000) (e.g. large lecture sections)
Before you use, consider: Known issues with Microsoft Edge browser When joining from an invite, all attendees are equal; can share audio and screens at any time Use at your own discretion (see "how to avoid zoom bombing" as well as FASE's Information Sheet); tool not officially supported (see pricing) 10-20 s delay (interaction between host and attendees is difficult)
How to Access Enable in Quercus course Schedule from Microsoft Teams or Outlook or from within your Quercus Course Request (unsupported) Zoom account from FASE IT Department Contact ACE
Integrated into Quercus? Yes (See how do I add Bb Collaborate to my course?) Yes (See Teams Meetings Documentation) No No
Administration Self-managed via Quercus courses or sandboxes Self-manged via Microsoft Teams or Outlook Account request via FASE IT Helpdesk (see Zoom account request information); then self-managed Administered by ACE (contact ACE); not self-managed
Roles Moderator, Presenter, Participant (roles transfer from role in Quercus course, e.g. Instructor = Moderator, Students = participants; defaults can be changed based on preference) 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 No end-user controls but best practices can be employed by moderator (e.g. disabling video for participants) 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 session attendance report No Yes (see getting started with Zoom reports) Yes; via Attendee Engagement Report
Join by phone option? Yes (new local number available); limit of 25 callers per session (see join from your phone) Yes (but could be temporary)  Yes Yes (but could be temporary)
Session size limits? Regular session 250; Webinar session 500 (large sessions have limited interaction features; no break out rooms; see how to create a large session) 300 300; can special request larger webinar sessions Designed for large audiences; support over 10,000 attendees
Max. simultaneous cameras 6 (See Video support) 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 Included in institutional licensing See pricing for different levels of accounts. Included in institutional licensing
Interaction Features: Hand raise, faster/slower, happy/sad, chat emoticons 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, Desktop or Applications, Polls, built-in whiteboard (see share content) 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: Can be enabled to share audio, video, built-in whiteboard; to share screen, have to be promoted to Presenter role Audio, Video, Content, Applications, built-in whiteboard Audio, Video, Content, Applications, built-in whiteboard Attendees cannot share content
Remote Control? No No Yes; Hosts can take control of guest screens (with permission) Yes; Presenter can control Producer's screen
Guest access? Yes; can invite anyone via Guest URL, can be promoted to any role. Yes; some functional limitations for guests. Yes; this tool is managed outside of the U of T system. Yes; can invite anyone.
Formative Quizzing?  Basic Polling; Multiple Choice/True or False; cannot pre-build No Basic Polling; Multiple Choice; can pre-build before sessions (requires Pro account or above) No
Small Group Collaboration? Breakout Groups No Breakout Rooms No
Built-in recording tool? Yes; automatically posts to Recordings in Quercus Course Yes; recording is logged as part of meeting chat; uploaded automatically to Microsoft Stream (unavailable to non-U of T viewers) Yes; file is saved locally and requires manual upload to video streaming service (like MyMedia); see "how to record a Zoom session" Yes; file can be downloaded via the Recording link on the calendar invite.
Storage capacity for recordings No limits on number or size of videos. Videos do not count towards Quercus course storage limits. Storage in MS Stream is limited to 0.5 GB per user.  

Storage for all provisional U of T Zoom Education accounts is limited to 0.5 GB. 

Contact ACE for information.
Retention limits for recordings Recordings remain available for one (1) year after last day of class. If recordings need to be retained for an extended period of time, the recommendation is to download the recording files prior to the course end date. This information is also available on the Quercus Course Life Cycle page. There are no limits on retention time of recordings. There is a 120-day retention limit on cloud storage recordings. This information is also available on the Academic & Collaborative Technologies (ACT) Zoom Information page Contact ACE for information.
Class management tools? Timer (currently disabled) No Session timer Session Timer
Session time limit? No time limit on regular sessions; can have permanently open course rooms;
For large sessions the start and end time cannot be more than 4 - 6 hours apart.
8 hours 40 minutes (basic account); time limit currently lifted 4 hours
Mobile app? Yes; limited functionality; not recommended for moderators Yes Yes; limited functionality; not recommended for hosting sessions Only functional for attendees 

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 (including the ones above; excepting Bb Collaborate Ultra).