Contents

  1. Available video conferencing tools
  2. Activity-based recommendations

This resource will help you to select the right video conferencing tool for your needs. Sheffield Hallam has licenses to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, Zoom, and Webex. There is a brief overview of the strengths of each tool below, followed by tables which detail how each tool handles common teaching and learning activities; and special considerations you might have. Recommendations are made where the ability of one tool to support an activity clearly exceeds the others.
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Available video conferencing tools

Blackboard CollaborateBlackboard Collaborate Ultra is a video conferencing tool that is part of Blackboard. The ability to integrate the tool with your Blackboard module site and its orientation towards teaching purposes is its main strengths. See the Digital Learning Teams web pages to get started with Collaborate Ultra.

  • Collaborate is recommended for: Lectures (information delivery); Lectures (co-taught); Assessed Presentations; Classroom Management.
  • The maximum number of participants (including host): 500.

Zoom is a globally popular video conferencing tool. Its particular strength is its ability to reliably stream a large number of video and audio feeds simultaneously and display them in a single view. See the Digital Learning Teams’ web pages to get started with Zoom.

  • Zoom is recommended for: Seminars/Discussions; Lectures (recorded); Assessed Presentations; Closed Captioning and Transcription.
  • The maximum number of participants (including host): 300.

Webex is a popular video conferencing tool within organisations. It is integrated with other organisational tools including Jabber and Outlook and has some unique features including the ability to transfer files and to share multimedia, that the user can control locally, in a dedicated multimedia panel. See IT Helps’ web pages to get started with Webex

 

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Activity-based recommendations

Special considerations

 

Consideration

Tool

Recommendation

Details

Classroom Management

Collaborate Recommended If participants join by navigating through the module site their full name will be displayed. You will also be able to produce accurate reports to monitor attendance. You can control participants’ video and audio access prior to and during the session and remove users from the room.

Zoom Participants may use any name to join and can change their name during the session. You can control participants’ video and audio access prior to and during the session, and remove users from the room.

Webex Access is by invitation email or link to hosts’ meeting room – it allows attendees to use any name. The host can control attendees’ video and audio access prior to the session and during the session, and remove users from the room.

Using with Externals

Collaborate Externals can join via a link. Collaborate does not generate invites so you must email guests.

Zoom Externals can join by following a link in an invitation generated by Zoom. The invitation can be emailed or added to Outlook calendars. Users are prompted to install Zoom when they join the meeting if this doesn’t work or is not desirable there is a link they can click to access the meeting from their browser.

Webex Externals can join by following a link in an invitation generated by Webex. The invitation can be emailed or added to Outlook calendars.

Using internationally

Collaborate Can be used globally. Delivering classroom-based sessions via video conferencing is not considered a reliable option for use with China.

Zoom Can be used globally. Delivering classroom-based sessions via video conferencing is not considered a reliable option for use with China.

Webex Can be used globally. Delivering classroom-based sessions via video conferencing is not considered a reliable option for use with China.

Using with large Groups

Collaborate Can accommodate up to 250 participants in ‘standard mode’ and up to 500 participants in ‘webinar mode’. When webinar mode is selected, Share Audio, Share Video, Post Chat Messages and Write-on Whiteboard are all deselected by the system but can be enabled again by the Moderator. Breakout rooms are unavailable in webinar mode.

Zoom Can accommodate up to 300 participants

Webex Can accommodate up to 200 participants

Closed captioning and transcription

Collaborate There is no automatic closed captioning. However, you may promote users to the role of ‘Closed Captioner’ and they may type what they hear. You may promote multiple users to CC meaning you can have captions in different languages.

Zoom Recommended High-quality automatic closed captioning can be generated live and downloadable transcriptions are available if the session is recorded. This needs to be manually enabled within your account settings prior to the session.

Webex There is no closed captioning or transcription.

Confidentiality/ Security

Collaborate You can disable the guest join link so that users must log into and navigate through blackboard to access the room, meaning they must be enrolled on the module site to gain access. If you want to further control access you can make the collaborate tool link unavailable in the module site.

Zoom You can generate a random one-time meeting ID to avoid revealing information about your user account. You can set a password that users need to enter to access sessions. You can also control access to the room via the waiting room feature. Once the participants are in the session you may lock the door to prevent further users joining. Zoom is not secure enough to share highly sensitive information e.g research data about protected characteristics as some information is processed outside of the EU where GDPR is applicable.

Webex You can set a password that users need to enter to access the session. Once the participants are in the session you may lock the door to prevent further users joining. You may also restrict access to only users that are logged in with their SHU institutional accounts.

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