Webinar tools allow us to connect with each other even if we are unable to meet in person. They allow educators to provide learning for their students from afar. With increasing numbers of people turning to webinar solutions, there are multiple tools to choose from.
Here we provide an overview and comparison of some of the popular tools, which include the following:
- Microsoft Teams
- Adobe Connect
- Google Hangouts
- Big Blue Button
- GoTo Webinar
Zoom is a video conferencing tool that offers unlimited one-on-one calls and calls up to 40-minutes long for up to 100 participants on their free plan. Three different paid plans, Pro, Business and Enterprise, are also available for those that require longer calls or more participants. Zoom includes video conferencing and web conferencing, as well as group collaboration features. It includes breakout rooms to split meetings into smaller groups, group chat, screen sharing, and whiteboarding. For security, Zoom uses SSL encryption and AES 256 bits encryption. Zoom offers instant or scheduled meetings, with personal room or meeting IDs.
- Easy to use and often chosen for personal as well as educational and business use
- Well-rated video and audio quality even with multiple people
- Simple screen sharing, video and audio calling, and scheduling
- Possible issues with security
- A Zoom app needs to be downloaded for participation in meetings
- The interface can lack intuition and be difficult to use for some people
Microsoft Teams offers a solution for working together in Microsoft 365. Available for business or education, it offers unlimited chat and search, video calling, team and personal file storage, and real-time collaboration with Microsoft Office. The additional features make it a complete collaboration tool, rather than a tool that is purely for video conferencing webinar use. The free version of Teams offers a number of useful features, as well as file sharing and the ability to attach files in chats. There are more than 250 apps and services that can be integrated with Teams for a full suite of collaboration tools.
- Provides a range of productivity and collaboration tools in addition to video conferencing
- A huge range of integrations
- Content can easily be shared during meetings
- No presentation screening, although PowerPoints can be shown through screen sharing
- No scheduled meetings or meeting recordings with the free plan
- Video conferencing and events only available with paid plans
Adobe Connect is designed to make it easy to create engaging experiences. It offers a high level of customizability, allowing those hosting meetings and webinars to create the look and feel that they need. The layout of the screen can be controlled for viewers, and there are many options to choose from when setting up conferencing. Adobe Connect offers three different options to make it possible to select a plan that works for different purposes. Subscribers can choose from Meetings, Learning or Webinars to meet their needs. Meeting numbers can range from three, all the way to 1,500 for a shared webinar room.
- A high degree of customization
- Many options to choose from for room layouts, meeting design and screen sharing
- Other tools to use, including Q&A, whiteboard, file sharing, surveys
- Layouts can be setup before a session and can be easily switched between for a seamless experience
- Large number of users allowed for webinars
- More expensive than other options, with no free plan, although there is a 90-day free trial
- There can be a steep learning curve when first using the tools
- Third-party telephone solution is required for audio calls
Google Hangouts is easy to get started with, offering many features and being free to use. Google Hangouts allows chats and video calls, phone calls using WiFi or data, and text messages using Google Voice numbers. Google Hangouts Meet is offered with G Suite for business and education purposes. The basic tool offers conversations with up to 150 people and video calls with up to 10 or up to 100 when included with G Suite. Google Hangouts has apps for Android, iOS, and Chrome, although it can be used as a web application.
- The basic Hangouts is a good option for casual conversation, while Hangouts Meet is better for official meetings
- Completely free for the basic option or included with G Suite if you use Hangouts Meet
- All people taking part need to have Google Hangouts, although downloading anything isn’t necessary
- May not suit the demands of a larger educational institution looking for something more sophisticated
BigBlueButton is specifically designed for online learning. It has features and tools that have been created for teachers, including sharing of slides, video, audio, chat and desktop. It has built-in polling to engage with students, as well as a live whiteboard for presenting and groups. Unlimited webcams can be shared in a session, and the application also includes screen sharing and breakout rooms. It is built to integrate with a school’s LMS and complies with accessibility standards.
- Designed especially for educators
- Option to try online before buying
- Features designed to help interact with students
- May be more of an option for schools than online learning brands
- Integrates with LMS so doesn’t offer an immediate solution – requires developers to integrate
This specialized webinar tool offers features such as event management, flexible scheduling, and webinar templates. It also allows you to create a registration page, custom webinar invitations, and automated email reminders. With dual-screen capability, people hosting webinars can present with one screen, while keeping an eye on their attendees with another. An engagement dashboard makes it possible to watch over attendees and encourage engagement.
- Designed specifically for webinars with useful features
- Tools to keep an eye on engagement, with engagement features such as polls
- The interface can be unintuitive
- Polls have to be setup individually, as you need to create them disrupting the flow of the learning
- There can be problems with video and audio quality
|Zoom||Microsoft Teams||Adobe Connect||Google Hangouts||Big Blue Button||GoTo Webinar|
|Free Users||100||500K||None||Unlimited||N/A||100 (free trial)|
|Initial Cost Per Month||$14.99||$5||$50||$6||Request pricing from company||$89|
|Presentation Streaming||Yes||Via screen sharing||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Record and Playback||Yes||With paid plans||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|VoIP||Yes||Yes||3rd party||Yes||3rd party||Yes|