One of the decisions many instructors will have to make this year is which video conferencing platform they will use for virtual sessions, office hours, and other meetings that may take place remotely. UWGB currently supports two platforms for video conferencing—Microsoft Teams and Zoom. (In case you missed it, UW System decided not to renew their contract with Collaborate Ultra, choosing instead to start a license with Zoom this year.) A question CATL often gets is “which video conferencing platform should I use?”. Since the basic features of video calls with Teams and Zoom are nearly identical, it mostly comes down to personal preference, but we’ve still outlined a few considerations below to help you make your decision.
Ease of Use
Zoom and Teams are pretty equitable in terms of the internet bandwidth required, though Zoom also allows attendees to call in by phone if they have problems connecting to a meeting over the internet. With both applications, you can schedule and join meetings through either a desktop application or in your web browser, as well as on mobile through their respective iOS/Android apps. Zoom has an extensive overview of which features are available on each platform and Teams has a similar comparison chart here. For both platforms, the desktop application will usually provide the best performance and the widest range of features.
In terms of interface, Teams and Zoom are similar but have some key distinctions. Teams’ call features are found in a toolbar along the top of your screen that remains fixed. Zoom has a toolbar that is at the bottom of the screen by default but can be dragged to other locations, such as when sharing your screen. Both toolbars are equipped with features like chat, nonverbal feedback cues (such as virtually raising or lowering your hand to be called on), and breakout rooms. If you would like to explore the features of each of these programs further, here is Microsoft’s help portal for Teams, and here is Zoom’s help center where you can browse thousands of articles, videos, and user threads to find the answers to your questions. You can also contact the UWGB help desk for further support or browse the UWGB IT knowledge base.
Compared to Teams, Zoom definitely has a more robust Canvas integration. Teams’ integration allows you to schedule a meeting with the Rich Content Editor in Canvas, but not much else. With Zoom, you can schedule your class sessions, view upcoming meetings, and review recordings all from within Canvas. Note that there are some advanced meeting settings that can only be adjusted from the Zoom web portal, such as creating polls before the start of the meeting.
If you plan on sharing session recordings with students, the workflow is also much more streamlined with Zoom than with Microsoft Teams. With Zoom you can publish recordings in Canvas with one click, whereas with Teams you will need to find the recording in your OneDrive and then copy the share link for the file.
With both Zoom and Teams, we recommend copying the meeting join link and sharing it on a page or linking it in a module near the top of your course home page so students can find it easily inside Canvas.
File Sharing and Collaboration
While Zoom is perhaps the winner when it comes to simple video conferencing, if file sharing and collaboration are integral to your class, that’s where Teams really shines. Microsoft Teams is built for project management and collaboration, so making a Team for your class might be useful if students will need to regularly share and collaborate on documents or projects together. As a Microsoft product, Teams is also integrated with applications like PowerPoint, Word, and Excel, making it very easy to share documents like these inside and outside of video meetings.
If you’re still not sure which tool is better for your course, we always welcome you to schedule a consultation with a CATL member. We can discuss how you plan on using video conferencing in your course and help you decide which one might be better suited for meeting the needs of both you and your students.