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Video conferencing

Blackboard Collaborate will be decommissioned from July 1st, 2022. Further information can be found here. 

QMUL supports three video conferencing platforms, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Blackboard Collaborate. All three platforms are accessible using your QMUL account, and available for online teaching, webinars, communication with students, meetings with colleagues and more. This page compares the features and limitations of each platform to help you select the application most appropriate for your individual teaching and learning requirements.

If you have previous experience using one of the applications, you may prefer to continue utilising it for teaching. However, you should remember the importance of consistency for student experience. Feedback has shown student frustration if they are expected to use different platforms across a single degree programme. Please check with your school which application your students will be most familiar with. Below is some general guidance for each application, followed by a detailed feature comparison for your review.

Please note: Each application is frequently updated automatically, and features are subject to change at any time.

Zoom

Zoom is a user-friendly and popular video conferencing application that can be used from a desktop, mobile device, or web browser. It may be best if you plan to utilise breakout rooms, have a large number of participants, or for delivering public presentations. Zoom has a variety of security features and controls to manage participants. It is also well suited for presenting using multiple displays, with the ability to pop-out elements of the interface across your screens (i.e. Chat, Participant, and Polling panels).

Zoom is integrated in QMplus and can be used to set up sessions directly in module areas. Recordings are automatically stored in QMplus Media (Kaltura) and available for students to view in QMplus. It is a popular online teaching choice at QMUL.

Microsoft Teams

Teams is primarily designed as a collaboration hub for your Office 365 account. Whilst it can be used for online teaching, it has been designed for group communication, collaborative file editing, and connecting with other users within an institution. Typically, Teams is best suited for meetings and communicating with colleagues. Teams workspaces and discussion channels can also be created for students enrolled in a module. There is currently no MS Teams integration with QMplus, and recordings must be manually shared via OneDrive or manually transferred into QMplus media for sharing.

Blackboard Collaborate

Blackboard Collaborate will be decommissioned from July 1st, 2022. Further information can be found here. 

Blackboard Collaborate has been specifically designed for education and works without the need for the installation of a desktop application. Both participants and hosts connect using a web browser. Sessions can be scheduled and managed directly in QMplus, and recordings can be made available within QMplus for students. Limitations include a smaller number of breakout rooms, fewer simultaneous video feeds of participants are visible, and machine-generated captions are unavailable. PowerPoint presentations can be uploaded directly into Collaborate, which may be helpful in low-bandwidth situations. A benefit is Collaborate’s ability to allow multiple video inputs, so you can share a webcam and a second video feed such as a desktop visualiser.

Overviews and Guidance

Each application is accessible via your QMUL account. If you are finding it difficult to decide which to use for teaching, we recommend testing the features of each, or hosting a meeting with colleagues to help determine which might be the best fit. Please see the links below for detailed Overview Guides:

Comparison – At a glance

Feature Zoom Microsoft Teams Blackboard Collaborate 
Number of participants 300 by default
Raise a ticket on the ServiceDesk to request licenses for

  • Large Meeting – 500
  • Large meeting – 1000
  • Webinar – 500
  • Webinar – 1000

See the Zoom website for details of the differences between meetings and webinars

Up to 1000 for Meetings with full interactivity capabilities.

1001-20,000  with view only capabilities.

Raise a ticket on the ServiceDesk to request a Live Event.

Further guidance on MS Teams meetings, webinars and Live Events can be found here. 

Blackboard Collaborate will be decommissioned on July 1st 2022 and will no longer be available to QMUL staff or students. Find more information here. 

500, with some restricted functionality for over 250 participants

Joining methods URL, QMplus, Outlook (via plugin) URL, Outlook, email URL, QMplus
Recording Local file, Zoom Cloud, QMplus Media integration OneDrive QMplus via Collaborate video player
Breakout rooms Yes – Max 50 rooms. Automatic (random), manual, or pre-assign allocation via CSV upload. OR allow participants to choose their group Yes – Max 50 rooms. Automatic (random) or manual allocation.

Meeting must have fewer than 300 attendees for breakout rooms to be available.

Yes – Max 20 rooms. Automatic (random) or manual allocation only. Unavailable for large (250-500 participant) sessions.
Captions & live transcription Live machine-generated captions or manual via assigned captioner. View and search transcript with recording (Cloud player) or download text file. Live machine-generated captions only. Transcript available for download through Teams calendar after a meeting. Manual via assigned captioner only. Captions visible on Collaborate video player.
QMplus integration Yes, via External tool activity No Yes, Collaborate and External Tool activities

Comparison – Additional Features

Feature Zoom Microsoft Teams Blackboard Collaborate
Chat Enable/disable direct/private messaging and downloading chat transcript All chat visible in Teams channels and ‘@mention’ users to generate notifications. Direct messaging to participants using a new Chat in Teams rather than in the meeting. Allow for separate Moderator chat and direct/private messaging. ‘@mention’ users. Chat playback visible via Collaborate video player.
Q&A tool Webinars events only Live events only No
User roles Host, Co-host, Participant Organiser, Presenter, Attendee Moderator, Presenter, Participant
Polling Yes Yes, via ‘Forms’ extension Yes
Number of participant video feeds Up to 49 participants Up to 49 participants Up to 25 participants
Virtual backgrounds Blur background, custom image, custom video Blur background or custom image No
File sharing Share via chat

Whiteboard available as of May 2022. Annotate on whiteboard and enable/disable participant annotations. Ability to save annotations.

Share via Chat, collaborative edit, secured via Office 365, collaborative edit documents using Whiteboard Image, PowerPoint, or PDF files only
Join audio via telephone Yes Yes Yes
Annotate screen / virtual whiteboard Yes Yes Yes
Attendance reports Yes Yes – available in Chat after a meeting Yes  (QMplus External Tool only)
Share computer audio Yes, and optimised for sharing video Yes, desktop app only Yes
Share additional camera Yes (iPhone / iPad only) No Yes
Reactions Raise hand + any emoji Raise hand + 5 emoji. Raise hand, feedback responses, Emoji in chat.
Configure interface Yes, pop-out panels can be arranged on screen, in addition to active speaker or gallery view. Pin participants video. Spotlight speaker. Together mode. Restricted to single meeting window. Pin participant video. Restricted to single meeting window.
Security Pre-register attendees, remove from meeting, limit to QMUL addresses only, password protection. Waiting room. On-click ‘Lock meeting’.

Turn off participants audio, video or profile.

Limit meetings to ‘Teams’ or QMUL users only. No passcodes.

Enable ‘lobby’ prior to meeting.

On-click lock meeting.

Turn off participants mic or camera.

Restrict access via QMplus.
Sharing presentations Share screen only

Annotate on slides and enable/disable participant annotations.

Upload slides into Teams or share screen.

Allow participant to navigate slides.

Upload slides into Collaborate or share screen
Automatic recording Yes Live Events only No
Web browser support Yes Yes Yes  (Full features available with Google Chrome and Firefox)
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