Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Web Conferencing & Webinars – Options and Samples

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Just now, someone asked me about good webinar tools. I have so much experience with this, it seems a waste not to post what I emailed her on my blog. I should one day do a proper comparison table of features and stuff.

I think key considerations when choosing a web conferencing or webinar tool are:

  • Interaction. What kind of interaction do you need? Is it mostly one speaker or panel, or do you want audiences to interact? Via text, orally, or some other way?
  • Recording and livestreaming – do they matter?
  • Mobile access: do you need people do be able to access it easily on mobile?
  • Bandwidth: do you need people to be able to access it at lower bandwidths like 3G and 4G?
  • Cost. Do you have money? How much?

Hangouts. If you want something totally free: My preference is Google hangouts on Air (called YouTube live) Completely free to record and automatically livestreams and records to YouTube (you can make those completely public, private or unlisted). Only limitation is max 10 people per session but audience can interact via Text on YouTube chat while it’s running and comments after it’s over. Also has a good mobile app and works well on 4G and slow connections. It’s what we use for Virtually Connecting most of the time. Example of a session: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtwSCuVqJEE

ZOOM, If you have a little money: My preference is Zoom. Affordable, you can try it for free, allows audience interaction and recording, lightweight, works well on 4G connection and has mobile app. Free version gives you 40 minutes, 100 audience members and recording on computer. Example of a session (this was a panel discussion I was part of): https://youtu.be/ieJG8i_Pol8 (Zoom also has a really cool breakout room function if you have a large group and want to split them up into smaller groups and then bring them back together)
[I use the two above ALL THE TIME]


Blackboard Collaborate. This you may have if you have an institutional Blackboard, but not all campuses buy it. AUC has this. It’s a bit clunky but check if your institution has a newer version. It’s not great, but possible to use on mobile/4G. Here is an example of a session: https://eu.bbcollab.com/collab/ui/session/playback/load/f777d7de0268485dab1786e87c249bfa (I like the whiteboard function where people can draw/type on the screen – it might be available in other tools but have not used it much except in this webinar)


Adobe Connect. You need to install some stuff first – here is a sample recording: https://unir.adobeconnect.com/p7xoipcf1eq8/?proto=true

Elluminate (have never used the back end… here is an example of a session https://sas.elluminate.com/p.jnlp?psid=2017-03-29.0331.M.54BA77B03B2AC4AB89B04304F4EF3A.vcr&sid=7565)

Big Blue Button (open source, I think) https://bigbluebutton.org/

Hope this helps! Have I missed a big one? Have I missed an important feature? There are others that are just audio conferences but the person who asked me wanted something more like a webinar. This is also why I only focused on ones with recording options (so not Google Meet for example). I also focused on ones that have had longevity as totally new ones come and then disappear (like appear.in and others).

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