Teaching through live video conferencing has become the norm for many school districts, at least for the start of the 2020-21 school year. As a lot of teachers were thrown into using platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, and Teams overnight, many didn’t receive any training or guidance on how to use them. Whether you’re curious how they differ or you’re trying to decide how to get started, this comparative guide highlights all the best features and limitations of each platform.
Learn about the defining features of Google Meet, Zoom, and Teams and figure out which is best for you and your students!
What is Google Meet?
Google Meet is an app connected to your Google account. Most public school email addresses are connected to Google, making this app easy to access and integrate into other Google apps, especially Google Classroom.
Access Google Meet through the Meet app, or schedule a meeting in Google Classroom.
What learning tools does Google Meet offer me as a teacher?
- Easy scheduling in Google Classroom. Go to your Classroom settings (the gear icon in the top right), click “general,” and select “generate Meet link” to schedule.
- Teachers can share their screen with students and still be visible to them. While in the meeting, select “present” at the bottom of the window to share your screen. Students will be able to see you and any presentations, videos, or other information you want to show them.
- Teachers can mute students (“Mute All” is a recent Chrome Extension). Click on a student’s video thumbnail to mute them, or mute everyone with the extension linked above.
- Breakout Rooms can be generated using this new Chrome Extension. This feature enables you to break students into small groups for discussions, projects, and more. Only available with the extension.
- Pre-record lessons by having a meeting with yourself. Start a new meeting, select the three dots in the lower right-hand corner of the screen, and click “record”. Finished recordings of your lesson will be sent to your Gmail and saved in your Google Drive.
- Use the Chat feature to connect with muted or silent students. Select the “talk bubble” icon at the top of the meeting screen to open up the chat. Everyone in the meeting will be able to view the chat.
What are the limitations of Google Meet?
- For privacy reasons, muted students can’t be unmuted by the teacher. However, students can unmute themselves.
- This tool is less effective without Google Classroom and is not accessible if your school doesn’t use Google accounts.
What is Zoom?
Zoom is another popular online meeting tool used for video conferencing. Basic Zoom accounts are free and easy to access. Sign up with your work email to get started.
Choosing to use Zoom instead of Google Meet to host your classes is possible. Although you will need access to their email addresses, students do not need to have a Zoom account to join meetings.
What learning tools does Zoom offer me as a teacher?
- Zoom offers most of the same features as Google Meet. This includes screen sharing, breakout rooms, and recording meetings.
- Virtual backgrounds are fun and aid in privacy. Go to your account settings to adjust your background. Messy workspace? No problem!
- Option to share a virtual whiteboard (with compatible device). If your device has a whiteboard feature, this option allows students to see the board as you teach. Students can also add to the whiteboard with access from the teacher.
- Complex muting options give you nearly complete control. Using the “manage participants” tab at the top of the meeting screen, meeting hosts enjoy a number of muting options, including muting participants as they join the meeting. No more interruptions!
- Chat feature enables you to contact specific people in the meeting. Unlike Google Meet, where the chat is 100% public to everyone in the meeting, Zoom includes options for private messaging.
- Zoom is intricate, with many fun features to explore.
What are the limitations of Zoom?
- While it is possible to schedule a Zoom meeting in Google Classroom (see this video for details) this is not a built-in feature.
- The number of options and features available on Zoom can be overwhelming for some teachers.
What is Teams?
Teams is a Microsoft app that comes with a professional Microsoft 365 account, which includes access to Word, Office, Excel, and more. If your work computer doesn’t have Microsoft 365, you can also create a Microsoft account for free using your email to access Microsoft Teams.
What learning tools does Teams offer me as a teacher?
- Video calls contain the essentials. Mute students, share your screen, record your meeting, and set up breakout rooms.
- Simple, undistracting option to blur your video background. Click the three dots on the screen for more options, and select “blur background.”
- Quickly access computer files to share with your class in the video call. Share files with your class, quickly access Powerpoint presentations, present your virtual whiteboard, and more.
- Use your class channels to chat, share recorded meetings, send messages, share files, and more outside of video calls. This feature is unique to Teams.
- Start your video call with a single click. Simply click the camera icon in the class channel to set up your new call.
- Teams enables you to keep your files, chats, calls, and video recordings in one place. See this video for more details on creating and using class channels in Teams.
What are the limitations of Teams?
- Teams works best if you and your students are already using a Microsoft account and tend to use Microsoft apps. However, anyone with an email can be added to a meeting as a guest.
- Class channels may be confusing to students already learning to navigate other learning platforms like Canvas or Google Classroom.
Hopefully, this guide will help you get a better grip of what each platform allows you to do and which would fit you and your students best. For more resources on Google Classroom, make sure to check out these tips and tricks. Also, make sure to check out this list of awesome Google Chrome Extensions that’ll make distance learning a breeze.