Deciding on which webinar platform to use will depend largely on if there are specific accessibility requirements, and influenced by any teaching techniques, or types of interaction you need to conduct with your students.
The webinar platforms you can use are Microsoft Teams Meetings and Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, the features of both are similar, with some exceptions, You can utilise similar techniques and skills across both platforms.
Please also refer to the How to make online interactive sessions available to students page that contains a comparison table of considerations and constraints when setting up and managing sessions that may also inform your decision.
Accessibility is fundamental consideration when choosing which webinar platform is suitable.
- Teams Meetings - Automatically generates captions, using AI that allows everyone to view closed captions of what is said.
- Collaborate Ultra - Does not automatically generate captions . There is an option to type captions live during the sessions, This would require an additional person to provide the captions, most likely a professional live captioner. (This facility would need to be funded by the School.)
If you have students that require captions to participate in your session, Teams Meetings is the easiest and most convenient to use. You may need to adjust how you planned to run sessions, if you previously wanted to use Blackboard Collaborate.
Learning more about webinar accessibility
More information about accessibility: How can I make my webinars more accessible?
The following differences in the ability to conduct specific active and peer teaching techniques may influence your decision on which platform to use or how you design your sessions.
- Using Breakout Groups for peer learning.Currently, only Collaborate Ultra fully supports Breakout Groups within a session.
- Polling: Blackboard Collaborate has a simple in-built polling tool. This can be useful for delivering 'on-the-fly' polls during an interactive session and the results of polls run during a session are saved. Teams Meeting does not have a polling tool but external polling tools can be used, such as MS Forms, Mentimeter or Kahoot.
- Presentation: Teams Meeting provides different options to present and share PowerPoint slides. This inlcudes the ability for students to move between slides independently. In Blackboard Collaborate, PowerPoint slides can be upload directly into the session but any slide animiations are removed. You can use application share instead to present, where animations are required
- Webcams: Teams Meetings allows more simultaneous webcam feeds, which can help your session feel like a classroom.
Once you've chosen your webinar platform:
- Stick with the same tool for all of your sessions. This is to build consistency with your students.
- Other academics teaching on your module should use the same tool for the same types of session.
- Clearly communicate to students which tool is being used and for what purpose, any equipment or technical requirements and signpost how they can find and access the sessions, (for example, through a link to Blackboard Collaborate in their module or for Teams Meetings from their Outlook calendar.)
Webinar feature comparison table
|Number of simultaneous
|Max Number of Participants||250 (Can be extended to 500 with 72 hours notice, but with restricted features)||250 Meeting (please contact DTS if more required)|
|Live captions||Option for live captioner to type during session||Automatically generated in real time|
|Allows Multiple Moderators||Yes||Yes|
|Guest Link (for external participants)||Yes||Yes|
|Slides / Screen / Application Sharing||Yes||Yes|
|Attendance Tracking||Yes (report produced & available after the session)||Yes (needs to be taken in the session)|
|Share & Download Files||No||Yes|
|Slide animations||No (Unless application sharing)||Yes|
|End Meeting for All||No||Yes|
|Schedule in calendar||No||Yes (in Teams App or Outlook)|
|Mobile Apps for iOS and Android||Blackboard, mobile browser.||Microsoft Teams|